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JCM Racing Pre-Race Report: Bristol

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Event 8 of 21

Bristol Dragway

Bristol, Tenn.

June 9 – 11, 2023

Event Update:

Due to persistent rain, last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals from Epping, N.H. were postponed following Saturday qualifying. Eliminations will be contested this weekend during qualifying for the Thunder Valley Nationals as follows:


Bristol Q2/Epping E1


Bristol Q3/Epping E2

Epping E3 (#2Fast2Tasty E1)

Bristol Q4/Epping finals (#2Fast2Tasty E2)

JCM Racing New England Nationals Pairings:

Top Fuel:

No. 10 Justin Ashley vs. Dan Mercier

No. 13 Tony Schumacher vs. Shawn Langdon

Funny Car:

No. 6 Tim Wilkerson vs. John Force

Top Fuel:


Driver of the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Highlights:

  • 2022 event champion

2022 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified 14th; Event champion (defeated Josh Hart in E1, Doug Foley in E2, Steve Torrence in E3, Shawn Langdon in E4)

Last Event (Epping):

Qualified 10th; Eliminations to be contested in Bristol

2023 Statistics:

Six races (does not include Epping); two wins; one No. 1 qualifier

Career Statistics:

61 races (does not include Epping); seven wins; three No. 1 qualifiers


  • Defending Thunder Valley Nationals Top Fuel champion

  • Has reached at least the semifinals in both his Thunder Valley Nationals appearances

Fan Events:

  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – noon, Team Toyota autograph session – Toyota midway display

  • Saturday, post-qualifying, Bristol Dragway Fanfest – midway


“I don’t know if the NHRA could pack more excitement into one weekend. Teams could realistically leave Bristol with two national event wins and a Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victory in only three days. This is a great opportunity for the Thunder Valley fans to enjoy a high level of racing from our Phillips Connect Toyota team and others.

“Last year the strength and resiliency of our Phillips Connect team was on full display. We faced challenges throughout the race but overcame them by turning on four race day win lights. The stakes were high a year ago because the race took place on Father’s Day. But the stakes may be even higher this year because of all the meaningful races that are going to take place throughout the weekend.”


Driver of the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Highlights:

  • Six-time event winner (2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2018)

  • Two-time runner-up (2001, 2016)

  • Four-time No. 1 qualifier (2004, 2007, 2008, 2015)

2022 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified 13th; First round exit (defeated by Antron Brown in E1)

Last Event (Epping):

Qualified 13th; Eliminations to be contested in Bristol

Career Statistics:

540 races (does not include Epping); 86 wins, 88 No. 1 qualifiers


  • Six of Schumacher’s 86 Top Fuel triumphs were won at the Thunder Valley Nationals. He is tied with Funny Car racer Ron Capps for the winningest pro driver in the facility’s history

  • The last time Schumacher and crew chief Mike Neff raced together as driver/crew chief at Bristol, they won the event (2018)

  • Will be inducted into Bristol Dragway’s prestigious Legends of Thunder Valley, the historic track’s official hall of fame, on Sunday morning

    • Schumacher is the 20th inductee and joins his father, 2014 honoree Don Schumacher, in the exclusive club

    • Schumacher is also only the second member to be inducted while he is still an active racer, joining 2016 inductee John Force


“First round of (Epping) eliminations is going to be super important because the winner of that gets a single in E2, and I’m so glad we’ll have the opportunity (during Q1) to put a run down before we get right into eliminations on Friday night. At a race like Bristol where we’ve seen pretty warm conditions, if you can get by that first round and have a single in the second, you can really gain a lot of knowledge. Our car has been behind with new parts, new pieces, and having that opportunity for an extra run is really important. We ran great in testing after Chicago, and we’re looking forward to applying that this weekend since we really didn’t have the opportunity in Epping with the conditions being so extreme. Overall, I’m just really excited for this weekend. I’ve had a lot of success at Bristol in the past, winning it six times, and Mike Neff and I won it in 2018 together. It’s a great facility, I love the people there, I love being there, and I’m just excited.”

On being inducted into Bristol Dragway’s ‘Legends of Thunder Valley’ on Sunday:

“To join John Force, the only active driver to be inducted, and be a part of it with my dad, I’m just super honored. I’ve been a part of different awards ceremonies, and different hall of fame things before but Bristol, their hall of fame, is an awesome thing. The track does a great job. You look at the list of names up there on the grandstands, and it’s just a great group of people, and I feel very honored to be included with that group. I’ve been blessed to race with a lot of great people over the years, and blessed to have had all of the success that we’ve had.”

Funny Car:


Driver of the SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Highlights:

  • Three-time runner-up (2010, 2014, 2022)

  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2007, 2017)

2022 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified second; Event runner-up (defeated Jack Wyatt in E1, Chad Green in E2, John Force in E3; defeated by Ron Capps in E4)

Last Event (Epping):

Qualified No. 6; Eliminations to be contested in Bristol

2023 Statistics:

Six races (does not include Epping); one win, one runner-up

Career Statistics:

576 races (does not include Epping); 23 wins; 20 No. 1 qualifiers


  • The last time Wilkerson competed in Bristol, he finished as the event runner-up, having faced Ron Capps in the final round


“Not that I wanted to leave Epping without having completed the race, but I’m happy we won’t have to wait long to get another crack at it, and Bristol is a great place to do that. John (Force) and I are going to do our best to put on a great show for the fans first round, and hopefully we can get by him and go from there. I kind of like when we get curveballs thrown at us like we will this weekend with having a double race. I think it’ll be fun. I tend to do well in Bristol, we went to the finals there last year, and hopefully that’ll continue this weekend.”


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