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Angelle Sampey, Greg Anderson, Robert Hight & Steve Torrence Earn Provisional #1's At Bristol

With a single pass on Friday evening, Steve Torrence, Robert Hight, Greg Anderson, and Angelle Sampey are the provisional leaders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Sampey, the winner of the first Pro Stock Motorcycle title in Bristol last October, combined with Vance & Hines teammate Eddie Krawiec to sweep the top two spots after the first qualifying session. On a run that normally would not hold the top spot, Sampey rode to a 6.966 and Krawiec was just a couple thousandths behind with a 6.968.

“My run was pretty bumpy and not straight by any means,” Sampey said. “I was running out of real estate down by the finish line and I didn’t want to cross the centerline so I rolled throttle just before the finish line. I never thought I’d be No. 1 but we’ll take it. This bike is a bad unit.”

“I was excited to come back to this track,” Sampey said. “Last year, I was worried about everything and I still ended up winning and that taught me a lesson of not to worry about too many things. I learned to just stop and enjoy the ride. I’m going to finally start listening to myself.”

Before the final in 2021, Sampey was nervous and quite frankly did not want to remain at the track and continue racing. She fought through those nerves and powered through the field for the victory.

Other than exhibition run in the early 2000's, this is only the second running of Pro Stock Motorcycle at Bristol.

Greg Anderson is still seeking his 100th victory and returned to the site of win #1 and put his Camaro into the top spot with an impressive 6.686. Anderson holds a sizable two-hundredths lead over Aaron Stanfield and Kyle Koretsky, who are second and third with matching 6.701 runs. Points leader Erica Enders recorded a 6.733 in her Melling/Elite Camaro.

“That was about 1,319 feet better than my first qualifying attempt in Epping,” said Anderson. “You have to get that data. You can’t lose that first run. We made a quality run without a doubt. All the problems we had in Epping, we gained on it each run and that has carried over to this race.

“That run won’t hold up tomorrow but we got three bonus points and that’s the main thing. We’re working hard and we’re coming back. I think we’re very close to finding our way to winner’s circle. Last year was unique. At every track I felt like I had a chance. I haven’t had that feeling yet this year but it’s coming. I have a lot more confidence now.”

Anderson is looking to get his season back on track and mentioned Friday that there would be no better place to get his 100th victory at the same place he earned his first. His patience on winning his 100th may be running thin.

Robert Hight and his Jimmy Prock-led Auto Club team found the right combination on Friday and posted a 3.971 to lead the field. While many of his competitors failed to make a clean run, Hight was able to get down the track with the best time before having issues at the line and dropping some oil.

“Jimmy saw what was going on and made a lot of adjustments right before we ran,” said Hight, who is seeking his 73rd low qualifier award. “I honestly thought it would run better. It spun and moved around and I had to drive it a lot. We blew it up down there and I’m not happy about that. We don’t do that too often. I’ll say this. That 3.97 will not hold up no matter what the conditions are tomorrow.

“After the rain we had, [the NHRA Safety Safari] had to start over and Funny Car was first out so we had a green racetrack,” Hight said. “The track will be more normal tomorrow and after they run a few cars I’m sure you’ll see some low 3.90s. That’s what it's going to take to be No. 1.”

Jim Campbell was second-quickest with a 4.080 in Jim Dunn’s Dodge and held the provisional top spot prior to Hight making his run earning him a few qualifying bonus points. Championship leader Matt Hagan earned a qualifying bonus point with a 4.172 for the 3rd best run in a funny car on Friday.

Finally in Top Fuel, the 4 time champ, Steve Torrence grabbed the top spot with a 3.791 that was barely enough to hold off second-ranked Josh Hart. Both riders ran matching 3.791 elapsed times but Torrence had a slightly quicker speed, 317.79 to 316.60.

A total of six drivers ran in the three-second zone including Antron Brown (3.802), Clay Millican (3.808), Spencer Massey (3.861), and Brittany Force, who slowed to a 3.900 after her Flav-R-Pak entry exploded just prior to reaching finish line.

“That was a good run to get the ball rolling,” said Torrence. “Tomorrow will be totally different but that was a good stout pass to go to No. 1. They did a lot of to make this surface level and flat but in some areas there is maybe not as much glue or rubber as we’d like to see. Still, Richard [Hogan] and Bobby [Lagana] were able to navigate it. A 3.79 not what we’re used to. You typically see a lot of 3.6 runs but we took what it gave us.”

With the Thunder Valley Nationals returning to it's traditional Farther's Day weekend timeslot, the action will continue all weekend concluding on Sunday.

Check out the full story from Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor:

See the Friday photo gallery:


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