BRISTOL, Tenn. — official series release — NHRA photo —
Matt Hagan won at his home track in Funny Car for the first time in his career Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at the historic dragstrip in northeast Tennessee.
Hagan, a native of Christiansburg, Va., powered to a 4.164-second run at 303.23 mph in his Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T to defeat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the final. The victory was Hagan’s first at Bristol Dragway, fourth of the season, and 18th of his career.
Hagan outan Jeff Diehl, Cruz Pedregon, and Jack Beckman in earlier rounds en route to the final. With the victory, the two-time and defending Funny Car world champion increased his series points lead.
“This is just such a special race for me,” Hagan said. “I’m two hours down the road and have so many friends and family out here. It just makes it special. I’ve wanted to win Bristol for a long time. I consider it my home track.”
Capps was appearing in his fifth final of the season in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. The three-time Bristol winner defeated 2009 world champ Robert Hight, 16-time world champ John Force, and two-time world champ Tony Pedregon to reach the final, which keeps him second in points.
Crampton, last season’s Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner, raced his Lucas Oil dragster to a 3.884 at 321.04 to take the win over three-time world champ Larry Dixon, whose C&J Energy Services dragster slowed to a 4.004 at 250.41. The win was Crampton’s first in Bristol, third of the season, and fifth of his career. He is now 5-0 in finals and moves to third in points.
“To have a winning record over a former world champion is pretty exciting for me,” said Crampton, who is now 3-0 against Dixon in finals. “I can’t believe we keep racing each other in final rounds. They are a great group of guys. The law of averages says he is going to get me back real soon.”
Dixon was appearing in his third final of the season, all three against Crampton. The three-time world champ is still searching for his first win since Phoenix in 2011. Dixon is now fourth in points leaving Bristol.
In a Pro Stock final featuring a battle between Chevy Camaros, Enders defended her Bristol win from last season with a final round 6.685 at 206.95 to Chris McGaha’s 6.689 at 207.46. Enders, the defending Pro Stock world champ, defeated John Gaydosh, Jason Line, and Shane Gray en route to the final . The win was Enders’ fourth of the season and 16th of her career, two behind Top Fuel’s Shirley Muldowney for second on the all-time wins list for women in the Mello Yello Series.
“I’m not shy to say that Bristol is one of my favorite places to race,” said Enders, who retakes the points lead in Pro Stock. “It’s always been good to me. I guess every driver has their tracks that no matter what you do wrong it always ends up right, even if it’s not always pretty. That was what last year here was. Today we earned it.”
McGaha was appearing in his second career final, his first coming in Houston earlier this year. His Harlow Sammons Chevy Camaro has been competitive in both, losing to Enders in the two finals. He beat Kenny Delco, Vincent Nobile, and Jonathan Gray to reach the final.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Norwalk July 2-5 with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
CREDIT: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series