NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

  • The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway hosts the eighth event on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series’ 20-race calendar in 2024. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two full-time entries – one in Top Fuel for Top Fuel rookie Tony Stewart and one in Funny Car for 51-time Funny Car winner and four-time champion Matt Hagan.
  • Coming into Bristol, Stewart is ninth in the Top Fuel standings, 221 points behind leader Justin Ashley. Hagan is third in the Funny Car standings, 68 points behind leader Austin Prock.
  • Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage (JHG) is the primary partner of Hagan and Stewart this weekend in Bristol. JHG was formed in 2021 and brings a passion and flare to the automotive world. They aim to inspire, drive and celebrate progress. JHG spans across Jason Johnson’s car collection featuring more than 200 sought after vehicles from classics, to hot rods and supercars. Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage’s mission is to preserve and showcase the automotive industry. The vehicles are driven to and displayed at events by Johnson and his team with the goal of growing interest and keeping car culture thriving. Johnson’s history in the industry began with Mather Auto Dismantler, Mather Mini Trucks and U-Pull It in Northern California. He later held an instrumental role in the growth and success of Copart, Inc., a global provider of online vehicle auction and remarketing services. JHG also serves as a primary sponsor of Elite Motorsports in the NHRA Pro Stock series.
  • The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will mark Stewart’s eighth career Top Fuel start and his first at Bristol. For Hagan, the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will be his 340th career Funny Car start and his 15th at Bristol.
  • Stewart is looking for his first victory at the Thunder Valley Nationals and his first No. 1 qualifier at the event.
  • Hagan has one career win at Bristol in 2015 (4.164 ET at 303.23 mph) when he defeated Ron Capps (4.186 ET at 307.02 mph). He also advanced to the finals in 2016, but his 4.030 ET at 317.57 mph run fell short of the one from Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.038 ET at 313.22 mph). Hagan is seeking his first No. 1 qualifier at the event.
  • Hagan is the current track record holder at Bristol for speed with a run of 330.34 mph, a mark he set on Oct. 16, 2021. Bristol is the only track that currently hosts an event in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series at which Hagan has never started from the No. 1 qualifying position.

Bristol is considered a home race for you. You also made a visit to Bristol for the NASCAR race to promote the NHRA. What makes the event so special?

“Bristol is two hours from me, so you see all the people you grew up with and have supported you racing. Bristol is a bit of a challenging track with the tunnel, especially in the left lane, so you hope to keep lane choice to go some rounds. We have to learn to navigate the track no matter what. What makes it so great is that Bristol is a Bruton Smith track and his facilities are always great. It has beautiful scenery cut through the mountains. It’s loud and fast and just cool. Anytime we get to race there, it’s just special. We have a lot of fans, friends and family that will be out there supporting us, so I’d love to win for them.”

The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will mark the completion of the first half of the regular season, prior to the Countdown. By the end of the weekend, teams will have established their routines, so how will that help you and your crew carry momentum through the second half of the regular season?

“I think our team has been a well-oiled machine for a long time now. We’ve been together over 15 years. We’ve had a couple guys come in and out, but over the last couple years, we’ve been able to keep our crew. I feel like that’s just a testament to TSR, Tony and Leah and everything they’re putting together behind the scenes to keep our guys here. Being well-oiled season-after-season only allows us to stay in the groove of things as the year passes. I have one hundred percent confidence in my guys every time we roll up to the starting line.”