BRISTOL, TN- Thunder returned to the valley on Friday for the opening night of qualifying at the Thunder Valley Nationals.
Virginia’s Matt Hagan, a winner at Bristol in 2015, is hoping he can return to the winners circle this year. Hagan has three wins so far this season, currently sitting in second place in the Funny Car standings..
This year has been especially tough for the Hagan family and a win on Father’s day would be extra special for Matt, who considers Bristol his hometown track.
“This year is really kind of big for me, I’d love to win here on Father’s Day,” Hagan said. “I lost my brother this year, during the off-season, and my grandfather all within one month. To have my dad here and my kids here I think it would be huge to pull down a win on Father’s Day. I didn’t get my old man a present, so I guess I better go out here and win.”
Hagan will start in the number three spot in Sunday’s elimination rounds.
No one is trying harder to get a Wally on Father’s Day at Bristol than Greeneville’s own Allen Johnson.
Bristol is Johnson’s home track, but despite valliant efforts, he has never come away with a win in the Pro Stocks at Thunder Valley. Johnson hopes that streak will finally come to an end Sunday and he can share the moment with his father.
“My father and I started this 23 years ago and didn’t think we’d be out here that long,” said Johnson. “To have him at every race is special. But to have him here on Father’s Day, and for me to have an opportunity to give him a great Father’s Day present, that’s pretty special. Of all the wins we’ve had and the world championship and everything has been great, but to hand him that Wally on Father’s Day would be right up there.”
AJ will have his lane choice over Alex Laughlin in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.