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Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals: Burning Questions

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via John Force Racing (1); Greg Anderson Racing (2)

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season carries on with this weekend’s Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, the 11th of 24 rounds in the 2018 championship. The third event in a four-week span, Bristol will see the sport’s top teams and drivers in top form as they look to win in one of the biggest events of the season.

After Friday and Saturday’s qualifying sessions, the ladders are locked and the stage is set for today’s action. As you prepare to watch the racing later today on Fox Sports 1, be sure to keep these storylines in mind as they shape the elimination rounds:

How long will Courtney Force’s hot streak carry on?

Coming off her fourth Funny Car victory of the season, the latest coming against her father John at Virginia Motorsports Park, Force topped the ladder yet again this weekend at Bristol with the only sub-four second pass of the event so far. She’s now qualified first in seven of the first 11 events of the season, as well as five of the past six. With only one of the other top five drivers in points (ninth seed Matt Hagan) on the same side of the ladder, could she cruise to yet another final appearance today?

Where does Greg Anderson’s latest major achievement rank on his career resume?

With the fastest qualifying time in Pro Stock, Anderson earned the top seed in the ladder for the 100th time in his illustrious career. The only other three drivers to do that in NHRA history, in any class, are John Force, Warren Johnson, and Bob Glidden. It’s incredible company to be in, but keep in mind that Anderson also has seven Pro Stock championships (three as a crew chief, four as a driver) to go with 90 career victories, as well as a record-setting 2004 season where he earned 15 wins and 16 poles.

Who strikes next in the Top Fuel battle between Clay Millican and Steve Torrence?

After Millican’s back-to-back victories in Topeka and Illinois, Torrence returned to the top step of the podium last weekend in Virginia with his fourth win of the season and the 20th of his career. That victory enabled him to stretch his points lead back out to 108 going into Bristol. However, Millican is not only the defending winner at this event, he’s also the polesitter; he’ll face Terry Totten in the first round on this weekend’s ladder. Torrence, who qualified sixth, will start out by facing Shawn Reed.

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