Home Anderson, Schumacher look to Thunder Valley as turning point in seasons of struggle

Anderson, Schumacher look to Thunder Valley as turning point in seasons of struggle

Rod Mullins
Thunder Valley
NHRA Pro Stock Driver Greg Anderson and Top Fuel Dragster driver Tony Schumacher answer questions posed by the media on the first day of Bristol Dragway’s Thunder Valley Nationals. Qualifying rounds will run through Saturday with the finals on Sunday. (Rod Mullins photos)

By Rod Mullins | Augusta Free Press

BRISTOL, Tenn. – NHRA drivers Greg Anderson and Tony Schumacher both agree, it’s been a strange start to the season but both firmly believe their key to a rebirth or resurgence can happen at Bristol’s Thunder Valley.

Pro Stock driver Anderson told the media present that it had been a tough start to the season, but racing again on Father’s Day Weekend at Thunder Valley is something he loves.

“I love racing on Father’s Day, and I don’t know if some people remember this when I won my very first drag race ever here back in 2001. That was number one. And I think that was Father’s Day too, if I remember right, so if my father was here, and able to handle that trophy after that first victory, it was the most special day of my career.”

After no racing in 2020 due to the pandemic and a schedule shuffle that saw the traditional Father’s Day Weekend moved to October, Anderson thinks its “pretty cool, and now here we are back.”

Even more special for Anderson? It’s been 21 years since claiming his first Wally at Bristol and  the HendrickCars.com Chevy driver is knocking on the door of win number 100. “So in some way, if we could find a way to get the job done on Sunday and get number 100 here at the same racetrack and both on Father’s Day, Wow. it would just be magically fantastic.”

Schumacher echoed Anderson’s thoughts, “We have struggled the first several races and just made the turn, but you know, this couldn’t be a better place. This has been a successful track for us.”

Schumacher had run a limited schedule over the last few years, even handling things in the broadcast booth for NHRA coverage on FOX but a sponsorship deal with The Maynard Family and SCAG equipment put him back in the driver’s seat where he feels like he truly belongs.

“It’s a new team and with it a brand new bunch of guys. I got 21 year olds working on that car and they are doing a great, great job. After the last race, they figured out a huge, huge issue that we had with the car in the last race.”

The driver of the Top Fuel SCAG Equipment dragster added that one further adjustment he and Anderson will be dealing with is a new surface at Bristol.  It’s a surface that had some bumps and the Dragway staff has “done a lot of work here to take some of the character out of it. And I had some great success over the years at this racetrack.”

Anderson and Schumacher will be vying for top qualifying speeds on Friday night at Thunder Valley and looking to improve with runs on Saturday. Finals are set for Sunday afternoon at Bristol Dragway.

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.