Johnson and Langdon take first wins of season
Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to his first Funny Car victory of the season at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, with Shawn Langdon taking Top Fuel honors and Jason Line conquering Pro Stock.
Johnson Jr. posted a 4.038-second pass at 313.22 mph at the controls of his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to defeat teammate and two-time 2016 winner Matt Hagan’s 4.030 at 317.57 in his Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T in the final round.
Said Johnson Jr., a two-time Bristol winner, “We’re just slow starters, but we’re strong finishers. The guys kept working hard and have kept their heads down. We got hot in Epping with a runner-up finish and we are on a roll now and we’re looking good.”
Johnson Jr. raced past two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria in the earlier rounds. The win secured Johnson Jr. the seventh spot in the specialty Traxxas Nitro Shootout event. The eighth and final spot of the lucrative bonus event held at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend is decided by a fan vote.
2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon, making his first final round appearance of the year, raced to a 3.838 at 322.19 in his Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher / Sandvik Coromant dragster to defeat teammate and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s 3.934 at 310.70 in the final round. Langdon, who won this event in 2014, claimed his 12th career victory and moved up to sixth in the points standings.
“We really did struggle at the beginning of the year,” said Langdon. “Everybody at Don Schumacher Racing came together and everybody there helped out; it’s a big team. I have to thank all the other crews and our Red Fuel crew. This is a big win for us and we are excited.”
Langdon, who secured the sixth spot in the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus event, beat Terry McMillen, Brittany Force and points leader Doug Kalitta to make his way to the final round. Schumacher drove by J.R. Todd, Steve Torrence and reigning world champ Antron Brown to make his second consecutive final round appearance. Schumacher is fifth in points.
Jason Line powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to his sixth victory of the season and 43rd of his career by outlasting teammate Greg Anderson in the final round. Line sprinted to a 6.668 at 207.59 to better Anderson’s 6.694 at 207.62 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Line, who won this event in 2006, was the No. 1 qualifier. This was his 10th final round appearance of the year and the victory extends his points lead.
“It’s been amazing,” said Line, who has raced to every final round this season except one. “I am so thrilled to be up here, you just can’t imagine. I am living my dream. The fact that I am getting to do this and have been so successful this year is awesome.”
Line won on a single in the first round when Dave River’s car had a mechanical problem and he couldn’t make the call, had a bye in the second round and sprinted past 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman in semi-finals to meet Anderson in the final.
Final finish order at 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
TOP FUEL: 1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Richie Crampton; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Pat Dakin; 9. Leah Pritchett; 10. Clay Millican; 11. J.R. Todd; 12. Kyle Wurtzel; 13. Chris Karamesines; 14. Terry McMillen; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Scott Palmer.
Final: Shawn Langdon, 3.838 seconds, 322.19 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.924 seconds, 310.70 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. Alexis DeJoria; 4. Ron Capps; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Courtney Force; 7. Robert Hight; 8. Del Worsham; 9. John Hale; 10. Chad Head; 11. John Force; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Jeff Diehl; 14. Dave Richards; 15. Jim Campbell; 16. Cruz Pedregon.
Final: Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.038, 313.22 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.030, 317.57
PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Drew Skillman; 5. Vincent Nobile; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Shane Gray; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Alex Laughlin; 11. John Gaydosh Jr; 12. Chris McGaha; 13. V. Gaines; 14. Dave River.
Final: Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.668, 207.59 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.694, 207.62.
Point standings after 11 of 24 events
Top Fuel: 1. Doug Kalitta, 926; 2. Antron Brown, 873; 3. Steve Torrence, 846; 4. Brittany Force, 754; 5. Tony Schumacher, 675; 6. Shawn Langdon, 595; 7. J.R. Todd, 562; 8. Clay Millican, 540; 9. Richie Crampton, 535; 10. Leah Pritchett, 412.
Funny Car: 1. Ron Capps, 841; 2. Jack Beckman, 786; 3. Courtney Force, 741; 4. Matt Hagan, 710; 5. Del Worsham, 701; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 691; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 675; 8. Robert Hight, 643; 9. John Force, 615; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 588.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 1,263; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,170; 3. Bo Butner, 758; 4. Allen Johnson, 668; 5. Drew Skillman, 625; 6. Vincent Nobile, 535; 7. Chris McGaha, 524; 8. Jeg Coughlin, 496; 9. Shane Gray, 458; 10. Alex Laughlin, 445.
Torrence, Capps and Line sprint to No. 1 qualifiers at Thunder Valley Nationals
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