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2014 Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals: Who to watch

Rodger Brogdon earned his first career Pro Stock win at Bristol last year
Rodger Brogdon earned his first career Pro Stock win at Bristol last year
NHRA Media

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to “Thunder Valley,” Bristol Dragway in Tennessee, for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Friday through Sunday, June 13th through 15th. The event will feature three of the series’ top categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – along with the NHRA Pro Mod Series, the Nitro Harley Series and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) are the defending champions of the event.

Funny Car driver Del Worsham saw his team and car make progress at Englishtown a couple weeks ago, making his first final-round appearance in 30 races. He’s hoping that Bristol, where he won in 2003 and 2009, is the site of his first win since returning to Funny Car in 2013.

“I would love to look back at the end of 2014 and say Bristol is where we really turned our season around,” said Worsham. “My memories of Bristol are the fans. Bristol has very loyal and passionate fans, and a lot of the spectators I can remember from the late 1980s coming here with my Dad. Bristol is a great racing city and the race has so much heritage. When you win Bristol you know it’s one of the races you can knock off your bucket list of things to accomplish.”

Torrence defeated Spencer Massey in last year’s Top Fuel final at Bristol, and Massey wants his third win of the season to come this weekend at Bristol – to get it, he knows it will take a combination of driver and team effort.

“It’s cool for the fans and cool for the drivers, and it’s one of those deals where you don’t feel and hear these cars quite like you do in Bristol,” said Massey. “It’s a first-class facility and the track is always good. What makes it special is that you have to be able to run a great time on Friday and then have the driver and crew chief stand out on Sunday when the temperature is so much different.”

Brogdon earned his first Pro Stock win last year at Bristol against Erica Enders-Stevens, but then went on a 20-race skid of not winning a round. He broke the streak at Atlanta, and made a semifinal appearance at Englishtown – he hopes the momentum continues at Bristol.

“We take some confidence (to Bristol),” said Brogdon. “We're getting our car all set up for (Bristol) based on what we learned at the test last year and during the race, and it'll be similar to what we ran last year. We'll try to go out and be in the top eight in qualifying and go from there.”

On Friday, pro qualifying sessions take place at 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, continuing Saturday at 12:30 and 3 p.m. ET. On Sunday, final eliminations for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals kick off at noon ET. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.

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