Kalitta, Wilkerson, Coughlin lead qualifying after day one at Thunder Valley Nationals

BRISTOL, TN- Doug Kalitta is the current Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier on Friday evening at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) are also provisional qualifying leaders at the 11th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Kalitta piloted his Mac Tools dragster to a 3.781-second pass at 326.71 mph during the second round of qualifying. This is the only track on the current NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule where Kalitta does not have a No. 1 qualifier.

“That was definitely the run to put one down,” Kalitta said. “It was a good solid run and felt good the whole way. I was really hoping that would contend for low qualifier. This is the one place I haven’t had the low qualifier so I hope to check that off the list.”

Steve Torrence is second in his Capco Contractors dragster with a run of 3.802 at 317.42. Leah Pritchett is third in her Papa John’s dragster after a pass of 3.817 at 274.33. Current world champion and Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown is 15th in his Matco Tools dragster with a 4.910 pass at 151.34.

Wilkerson powered his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang to a 3.895 pass at 328.22 to take the lead in the Funny Car class. It’s been over a year since Wilkerson secured a No. 1 qualifier, his last came at the NHRA SpringNationals in 2016.

“It’s hard to make a fast car slow and we’ve got a pretty fast car,” said Wilkerson, who has had first round exits at the past three consecutive races. “One run doesn’t make a hero though so we’re going to go out and try to do some good tomorrow.”

John Force Racing currently holds the second, third and fourth spots. Robert High sits in second after a pass of 3.918 at 324.28 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. Courtney Force is third in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS with a run of 3.952 at 324.90 and her father, team owner and 16-time world champion John Force is fourth in his PEAK Chevy Camaro with a 3.983 at 322.96.

Coughlin Jr. currently holds the Pro Stock top spot after running a 6.694 at 204.85 in his JEGS.com / Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro.

“We had a great start here in the mountain today,” said Coughlin Jr., a five-time Pro Stock world champion. “It feels great to get a jump on the weekend. Our team is strong, prepared and communicate really well.”

Bo Butner, in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro, is sitting second with a 6.697 pass at 205.72 and two-time world champion Erica Enders is in third with a pass of 6.704 at 205.66.

Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals continues at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Bristol Dragway.

Courtesy: Bristol Dragway

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