BRISTOL (May 1) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion usually relies on the crew and his years of experience to give him a hot rod capable of leading the pack. But when the NHRA tour arrives at Bristol Dragway for the O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Coughlin will need a larger support group to grab the pole.

As part of the festivities surrounding the drag race, Coughlin and a select group of straight-liners will be taking on the half-mile oval of Bristol Motor Speedway in Street Stock racecars. Instead of running time trials to determine the starting order of the NHRA Circle Track Challenge, officials are allowing race fans to set the starting grid.

It’s easy to vote. Fans simply visit at and follow the link to the NHRA Circle Track Challenge where they will be prompted to cast their vote. The driver with the most votes will start on the pole.

Coughlin will be joined in the race by Tony Schumacher, Gary Scelzi, Ron Capps, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Doug Kalitta, Kurt Johnson, Allen Johnson, Dave Grubnic, Morgan Lucas, J.R. Todd, Justin Humphreys, Doug Herbert, Antron Brown, Jack Beckman, and Cory McClenathan.

The entire pack of NHRA stars will drive the first segment of the race before turning over their to a Street Stock partner, the owner of the car, who then will finish the race. An NHRA winner will be crowned after the first segment and the starting positions for the final segment will be determined by the finishing order of NHRA race. A second segment winner and an overall winner also will be crowned.

Voting for the NHRA Circle Track Challenge will close on Thursday, May 15.

A 30-lap Pro Challenge event follows the NHRA Circle Track Challenge, followed by a 25-lap Charger race. The War Wizard, a monster truck, will be on hand to crush school buses and then the UARA stars will then take the green flag for a 150-lap event, followed by an appliance race, which features stock cars racing with major appliances strapped to their cars. The evening concludes with a fireworks show after the Thompson Metal 150 UARA feature race. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

General admission tickets are $15 with children 12 and under admitted free with a ticketed adult. Anyone attending the O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Saturday can show their ticket stub at the BMS gate and receive $5 off the ticket price.

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