Strutmasters.com was well represented during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals June 14-16 at one of the most scenic stops on the NHRA trail — historic Bristol Dragway nestled in the mountains of eastern Tennessee countryside.
Strutmasters.com newest driver Audrey Worm
Audrey Worm of Grantville PA qualified 13th in the Strutmasters.com Top Fuel Dragster from the shops of Leverich Family Racing. This left her with a first-round match up with fourth-fastest qualifier Antron Brown, a former NHRA champion with 50 Top Fuel victories.
Worm had a solid reaction time of .096 seconds at the start, but Brown got the advantage with a .064-second RT and won with a pass at 3.863 seconds and 318.24 miles an hour. Worm averted a skirmish with the wall on the bumpy Bristol track and pulled out a 4.082-second run. She hit a top speed of 271.79 miles an hour before shutting it down early in the 1000-foot race.
“We found some things after that run and I know we can go a lot faster,” said Worm during an autograph session with throngs of fans in attendance. “We are encouraged that our time would have been good enough to win in several of the other first round matchups, but you have to give Antron and his team credit. Proud of all our Strutmasters.com team. They did an awesome job. We are knocking on the door of winning some rounds.”
Mike Salinas of San Jose, CA topped reigning series champion Steve Torrence of Longview, TX in the Top Fuel event finals at Bristol. Salinas hit 325.69 miles an hour, completing the final pass in 3.836 seconds.
Johnny Pluchino makes his 1/4 mile debut
Second generation driver Johnny Pluchino made his quarter-mile debut in the Strutmaster.com Ford Mustang in an exhibition of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars at Bristol. The Mountain Motor cars are hence named for their massive engines – ranging from 818 to 840 inches of cubic displacement. The regular NHRA Pro Stock Class features engines at 500 cid.
Pluchino qualified third in a stellar field at Bristol with a quarter-mile pass at 6.364 seconds, just over 220 miles an hour. The New York native had a mechanical issue just seconds prior to his first elimination run that prevented him from showing his hand.
“We were so disappointed for all the folks at Strutmasters.com,” said Pluchino. “We were extremely happy with how consistent the car was in qualifying. We ran 220 miles an hour both times we completed a run. As it turned out, that would have been fast enough to be in the hunt for a victory here today.”
The 2018 PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 World Champion added: “We learned a ton of things this weekend. Once we get it all put together, we are confident we can be a factor at this level.”
Virginia driver Todd Hoerner prevailed in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock event at Bristol with a pass at 6.425 seconds at 219.36 miles an hour.
The “Nitro Granny” shows support for her Strutmasters family
The Nitro Granny, Janette Thornley of Statesville, was in attendance at Bristol, but did not participate in the Top Fuel Harley event for the fastest motorcycles that race in NHRA.
“Just here learning and gathering as many details as we can,” said Thornley, who is seeking to become the first female rider in the Top Fuel Harley class with backing from Strutmasters.com. “We’re going to continue chasing wins on our Pro Fuel bike and test some with the Top Fuel bike. The Top Fuel bikes are 25 to 30 miles an hour faster, but I look forward to the challenge.”
Til Tharpe of East Bend, NC, prevailed at Bristol in the Top Fuel Harley class with a run at 6.426 seconds and 218.90 miles an hour.