By Lee Elder
BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 15, 2018) – Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin are among the most successful drivers in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Pro Stock history. They have seven championships between them.
And now each has his eyes set on qualifying first for the Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Coughlin was quickest in the afternoon session but Anderson edged his way up front Friday evening with a 6.674-second, 205.35 mph dash down the drag strip in beautiful Thunder Valley.
Clay Millican had the quickest pass after two rounds of qualifying in Top Fuel and Courtney Force topped the Funny Car list.
“This track presents a different challenge, but apparently we did the best job of handling the conditions today,” Anderson said. “We knew it would be tough tomorrow if we didn’t make a strong run in the night session tonight.”
Coughlin topped the Pro Stock list after the first session and he was quicker yet in the night session when the track was cooler and grippier. But Anderson’s second run beat Coughlin by .009 of a second. Coughlin is second in qualifying.
The two Pro Stock titans met in the final round of the Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Illinois a few weeks ago and Coughlin won. Anderson leads the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship standings but he is winless so far this year. Coughlin is ninth in points but he is one of eight Pro Stock drivers with a win this season.
Millican’s time was 3.817 seconds at 322.88 mph. Tony Schumacher was second after two sessions.
“I was really shocked that our run held up during the second qualifying round because our team wasn’t swinging for a home run on that pass,” Millican said.
Force, who enjoyed a healthy 173-point lead in the Countdown standings as the weekend started, was the only driver to dip into the three-second range in Funny Car. Her 3.993-second, 325.92 mph pass edged J.R. Todd’s 4.072-second run.
“This car was hauling down the track and it was really a great run all together,” Courtney Force said. “It’s huge for us to pick up some bonus points.”
NOTES: Mark Oswald was named the 2018 Legend of Thunder Valley. … Each category in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has a full field this weekend. Top Fuel has 16 entries, Funny Car has 17 and Pro Stock has 16. … Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders likened the racing surface to the Ho Chi Minh Trail because it was difficult to find traction in the heat of the day. … Multiple drivers said the track was bumpy in places