NHRA New England Nationals Part Deux!

No doubt the NHRA New England Nationals racing fans love the annual New Hampshire event. Along with the top nitro teams and drivers, they loyally turned out in a broad array of weather conditions that ranged from ninety-degree plus temperatures for round one of qualifying to Saturday temperatures that were forty degrees cooler. Then, everyone showed up on both Sunday and Monday in hopes the rains would cease.

After multiple attempts at drying the wet track at Epping, NHRA officials were forced to move the elimination rounds of the NHRA New England Nationals to the next venue at Bristol TN. Both Top Fuel and Funny Car as well as the FuelTech Pro Mod class were blended with Friday and Saturday qualifying rounds for the 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

New Hampshire’s loss was Bristol’s gain, as drag racing fans filled the stands and suites at the historic dragstrip that was built into the Smoky Mountains and got its name from the harmonic sound effects of the 11,000 horsepower engines thundering from start to finish. Fortunately, the weather conditions in Tennessee were near perfect and the combined events went off without a hitch.

Ashley Nails Holeshot for New England Win

Justin Ashley completed a doubleheader at Bristol Dragway, winning both the Top Fuel win for the postponed NHRA New England Nationals on Saturday that also served counted for the semifinal and final runs of Round Five of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge. As the number ten qualifier at Epping, NH, Ashley reached the final round of eliminations with wins over Dan Mercier, multi-time champions Brittany Force and Steve Torrence.

Tony Schumacher posted a 3.797 elapsed time at 323.58 mph in the opening round to eliminate Shawn Langdon with 3.846 ET. Schumacher was unopposed in the unopposed in the quarterfinals as Mike Salinas advanced with a 3.848 ET to Leah Pruett’s 3.894 elapsed time. Salinas had problems early in the semifinal round handing Schumacher an easy win to advance to the Finals.

Ashley, who was the runner-up in Epping last year, is a seven-time winner with two wins on the 2023 season. Schumacher was on target to become the winningest Top Fuel driver in history heading into his 157th final round. Schumacher had two previous New England wins but Ashley in his Phillips Connect ride nailed a holeshot win to a quicker 3.835 ET for Schumacher.

Tasca III Wins Funny Car at Home National... sorta

Without question, Bob Tasca III has always wanted to win his hometown NHRA national race at Epping, N.H. Tasca finally did just that, but the third-generation drag racer won the New England Nationals at Bristol, TN, due to the rapidly changing New Hampshire weather conditions that caused last weekend’s elimination rounds to be rained out and moved to the next NHRA Camping World venue at Thunder Valley.

In the quarterfinal round, Tasca took advantage of Robert Hight when his AAA/Cornwell Tools Camaro tagged a timing block leaving the tree and advanced to the Finals when a red-hot Chad Green had problems after nailing the holeshot. John Force advanced to the Finals with wins over Chicago winner Tim Wilkerson, Alex Laughlin, and long-time rival J.R. Todd.

Tasca beat legendary Funny Car driver John Force with a 4.032-second elapsed time at 322.96 mph in his Ford Mustang to edge Force’s 4.085 ET at 320.51 mph. After a disappointing season NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, Tasca added new crew chiefs Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara during the off season. The 2023 win at delayed New England Nationals is the 13th Wally of his NHRA nitro Funny Car career.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

All of the top teams and drivers are already at Bristol TN for the 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals for eighth round of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series with elimination rounds set for Sunday.


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