BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 09, 2023) – Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS team are the provisional No. 1 qualifiers Friday night at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Brittany Force has the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac dragster sitting No. 2 with teammate Austin Prock and the Montanan Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster No. 8 and John Force in the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevrolet Camaro SS No. 10. Hight, B. Force and J. Force also picked up first-round wins in the postponed NHRA New England Nationals that began in the second session of qualifying.
Robert Hight, who is running the Thunder Valley Nationals in the Cornwell Tools Chevy Camaro and the completion of the New England Nationals from Epping, N.H. in the AAA Chevy Camaro, kicked off the busy race weekend by running a clean 4.039-second pass at 318.17 mph to be the second quickest of the first session.
In the second qualifying session and also the first round of the New England Nationals, Hight handled the AAA Chevy to a 3.938-second pass at 321.35 mph defeating Alexis DeJoria’s 3.999 at 322.88 mph. The round win also put the Cornwell Tools Chevy into the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot.
“This is all new for all of us, running an entire race within another race. We’ve done a couple of rounds before but never an entire race. It’s a different mindset going up there in qualifying. You have to cut a light, be ready, still try to shallow stage and put up the best elapsed time,” Hight said. “This is exciting for the fans and also exciting to race at night. There’s not a better setting in all of motorsports than Thunder Valley here in the evening as the sun is going down. It’s beautiful. Fans got their money’s worth.
“Good job to the Cornwell Tools / AAA team. Bit of a different situation for us. We felt that AAA didn’t get much coverage last weekend in Epping, N.H. So, we worked with Cornwell Tools. I really want to thank them for letting us run the AAA car during qualifying and giving AAA what they deserve from missing out on all of Sunday racing in Epping,” Hight continued. “We’ll be back in the Cornwell car on Sunday. It’s a little different, feels like I’m changing sponsors almost every weekend, we started the year with four races with Flav-R-Pac. I’ve got to look down, check my hat, see what uniform I’m wearing but we got plenty of bodies. It’s all just different but I’m having fun working with these great companies.”
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team dropped cylinders in the first run of the weekend. Despite not having all eight candles lit, Force managed to make it down the track without incident for a 3.892-second pass at 318.47 mph to sit fourth. In the combined second qualifying session of the Thunder Valley Nationals and the first round of the New England Nationals, Force laid down a 3.747 pass at track record-tying 334.48 mph to defeat Josh Hart’s 4.201 at 202.85. Her round win also put her in the No. 2 spot.
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster had a wild end to their first qualifying try. Prock was holding on for a decent run as the Montana Brand hot rod put a couple of holes out and eventually blew up at the finish line recording a 3.934-second pass at 298.01 mph. On their second chance at Bristol Dragway, Prock would line up against Steve Torrence for an exciting side-by-side drag race. Prock would come up short for the New England Nationals round one win with a 3.787 at 326.08 to Torrence’s 3.753 at 329.10. Despite not getting the victory, Prock would end the day in the No. 8 qualifying spot.
John Force and the BlueDEF Chevy started off on a good pass in the first qualifying session but spun the tires mid-track before his Camaro made a move to the left and he had to back off the throttle for only a 4.199-second run at 255.73 mph, the eighth quickest of the pack. Lined up against Tim Wilkerson in the first round of the New England Nationals, Force would stage deep for a .006-second reaction time that, combined with his 4.063-second pass at 324.36 mph, gave him the holeshot win over Wilkerson’s 4.004 at 318.99. He ended the night in the No. 10 qualifying spot.
The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway continues Saturday with qualifying at 2 p.m. that will include the quarterfinals of the NHRA New England Nationals. The New England Nationals semifinals will take place at 4:15 p.m. and the final qualifying session as well as the New England Nationals final round will be at 5:30 p.m. Eliminations for the Thunder Valley Nationals are set to begin at noon on Sunday.
Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) continues Saturday with the remaining NHRA New England Nationals coverage at 10:30 p.m. ET. Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET will be a second Thunder Valley Nationals qualifying show and at 7:00 p.m. ET will air the Thunder Valley Nationals eliminations.