After going out in the first two rounds at three of the first four events of the 2015 season, 2014 NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Harley champion Tommy Grimes and team owner Ray Price knew they needed a change in philosophy in order to defend their title.
"After we got our butts kicked a few times, we sat down, had a discussion, and decided that it's more important to win races than it was to go real fast," said Grimes. "We decided to calm things down and go as fast as we need to in each round."
Grimes has been doing nothing but winning since. His victory in Topeka was the catalyst for three wins in a three-week stretch: in Chicago, Tulsa, Okla., and most recently Bristol at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. With two races remaining in which Top Fuel Harley is contested, Grimes has clinched another championship.
"I was told that no one can beat us for the championship no matter what with two races left, so that made me feel good," said Grimes. "That eases a little pressure off of it now; I can relax a little now. This is our second championship in a row, and we have two more from when it was considered an exhibition series.
"We've been on a threeweekend swing, so my guys have been gone for a month. Them guys did good. Coming into Bristol, the guys put a new motor in the bike, went through the transmission, and made sure everything was good when we started racing on Friday morning."
Grimes qualified No. 1 for this event, as he has at every race this season. He ran a 6.39 to defeat Julian Seaman in round one, earning a single in the semifinals, during which he ran a 6.36 at 227 mph to set up a final round against Jason Pridemore.
"Jason Pridemore has a blower bike, which is one bad piece," said Grimes. "I knew he's been 4.02 to the eighth-mile twice while the fastest I've been is 4.06. I knew he had a bike and that I had to be on the Tree.
"I heard him, but I didn't see him. I dropped a hole at 5.8 seconds, and I thought, 'Oh, my God, I'm going to get beat.' We only have two cylinders, so it went flat. I swore it took 20 minutes to get to that finish line. I held it wide open and was up underneath the windshield. I was lucky enough that the boys put a good tune-up in it. It was going to go a mid-.20 is what they said."
The scoreboard read 6.39 at 206 mph for Grimes to defeat Pridemore's 6.48. The win continues a run of incredible success at Bristol Dragway for Grimes, which dates back to 2005.
"The stars must be lined up at Bristol for me," said Grimes. "I have no idea what it is about Bristol, but the only time I've ever lost there was when Mike Romine beat me in the final one time. Every other time we've been there, we've won the race. It has to be my favorite track. It seems like I can't do anything wrong there."
Grimes thanked wife Stephanie, children Tyler and Logan, team owner Price, Ray Price Harley-Davidson, and CP Pistons. He also expressed wellwishes toward a fellow competitor.
"Larry 'Drums' Brancaccio had a crash at another event in the middle of all this three-in-arow [stretch], and it was nice to be able to talk to him over the phone while we were at Route 66 [Raceway]," said Grimes. "We're all family out there. All the best for 'Drums,' and I can't wait until he gets back out here to race with us."
Publication: National Dragster
The Ray Price Motorsports team sends sincere thanks to all their sponsors for their support. They include our Primary Sponsors: Akea, Ray Price Harley-Davidson, with special thanks to our Associate Sponsor Raleigh H.O.G. and our Support Sponsors: Vanson Leathers, PJ1 Products, RC Components, CP Pistons, Barnett Clutches & Cables, Autolite Sparkplugs, Mickey Thompson Tires, Gates Belts, Nationwide Insurance, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, JIMS USA, Industrial Machine Solutions, Wiley X, LAT Racing Oils and Nitrolube. Additional thanks: Bill Hayes, Hargis Consulting, Ultra Pro Machining and Freddie Robbins.