Home Schumacher, Prock, J. Coughlin, Herrera win at Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Schumacher, Prock, J. Coughlin, Herrera win at Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Rod Mullins
tony schumacher
Tony Schumacher talks to the media following his win on Sunday. Photo: Rod Mullins/AFP

Eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher secured his first win in 37 races on Sunday at Bristol Dragway, defeating reigning world champion Doug Kalitta in the final round of the 23rd annual Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Schumacher drove his 11,000-horsepower Waltrip Brewing Co./Leatherwood Distillery dragster to a 4.236-second run at 259.41 mph, surpassing Kalitta’s 4.890 in the finals. This marks Schumacher’s first win since July 2022 and his 87th career victory, tying Ron Capps for the most wins at Bristol Dragway with seven.

Schumacher defeated Jasmine Salinas, Shawn Langdon, and Clay Millican to reach the final round, avenging his loss to Kalitta last weekend at New England Dragway. He moved to fifth in points with the victory.

“We hadn’t gotten past half-track in qualifying, but we found some things, and it’s always great when the crew chief says, ‘No, I’m serious, this is what we found,’ and it truly makes sense,” Schumacher said. “When you have a year like we had last year, a lot of things are like, ‘Oh, we figured it out,’ but it doesn’t seem to progress into anything. The last couple of weekends, it truly had. From the first round on, I knew we had a racecar.”

Kalitta moved into the points lead over Justin Ashley by advancing to the final round for the third time this season and 115th time in his career, defeating Antron Brown, Steve Torrence, and Brittany Force.

Austin Prock (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also claimed victories at the eighth of 20 races in the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

In Funny Car, Austin Prock finished a flawless weekend at Thunder Valley, picking up his second victory of the season in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS with a 3.989-second run at 312.42 mph, defeating J.R. Todd. Prock qualified No. 1, won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, and claimed the event victory.

Prock and his team were consistent on Sunday, defeating John Smith, Cruz Pedregon, and defending world champion Matt Hagan to reach the final round. He drove away from Todd, who posted a 4.022 at 313.66 in the finals, to earn his first career victory in Thunder Valley.

“It was just an outstanding job by my team this weekend,” said Prock. “Every time we went up there, the car was a contender, and we ended up sweeping it. None of these guys are easy anymore, but we got it done.”

J.R. Todd, now third in points, reached his second final round this year and 47th in his career by defeating Terry Haddock, Ron Capps, and Epping winner John Force, who remains second in points.

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin Jr. added another win, defeating longtime rival Greg Anderson in the championship round with a 6.707-second run at 204.94 mph in his Scag Power Equipment car. It’s Coughlin’s second win this season and his 67th career victory. Coughlin defeated Elite Motorsports teammates Jerry Tucker, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Erica Enders to reach the final round. Anderson shook the tires almost immediately, giving Coughlin his third win at Bristol Dragway and moving him to fourth in points.

“It was quite a team battle as we started the day,” Coughlin said. “Pro Stock today reminds me a lot of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, where fields are separated by just a couple hundredths of a second. When the field is that tight, it puts pressure on the driver to drive well, get a good start, and bang through the gears efficiently.”

Anderson, who was the No. 1 qualifier and remained second in points, reached the finals for the third time in 2024 and the 179th time in his career after defeating Larry Morgan, Cristian Cuadra, and points leader Dallas Glenn.

Points leader Gaige Herrera enjoyed another record-setting day in Pro Stock Motorcycle, winning his ninth straight race and 35th consecutive round after defeating Jianna Evaristo in the final round with a 6.818-second run at 198.17 mph on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. Herrera passed Dave Schultz for the most consecutive wins in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, tying Bob Glidden for the most consecutive round wins in NHRA history.

Herrera defeated defending event winner Steve Johnson, John Hall, and No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith to reach the finals. The victory in a must-see matchup against Smith came on a holeshot, with Herrera’s 6.825 holding off Smith’s 6.824 in the semifinals. Herrera, who now has four wins in 2024 and 15 in his career, led wire-to-wire in the finals, avenging last year’s loss at Bristol.

“It was a good day, but kind of weird starting from the 5th position. We struggled a little bit here in Bristol; it’s a beautiful facility, but it’s seemed to have my number,” Herrera said. “The semifinal was probably the highlight of my career so far. Matt was running well all weekend. What a day. The final against Jianna, I always love racing her, and I’m so happy for her. She’s been improving round by round and pass by pass, and to get the win over her is awesome. Not only that, to have basically two young guns in the final, it’s very cool. I’m happy to go home with the Bristol win.

“To be mentioned with Dave Schultz and Bob Glidden, it’s a lot to take in. It’s obviously real, but it doesn’t feel real, what’s been accomplished in such a small time. But I’m enjoying the ride and trying to look at every little milestone that passes. As a kid, I never would have thought I would be in this position or have my name in history. It gets emotional sometimes when I think about it.”

Evaristo advanced to her first final round of the season by defeating Marc Ingwersen, Chase Van Sant, and Richard Gadson.

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to action with the Virginia NHRA Nationals on June 22-23 at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond.


Final finish order (1-16) at the 23rd annual Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. The race is the eighth of 20 events in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Brittany Force; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7. Billy Torrence; 8. Doug Foley; 9. Justin Ashley; 10. Antron Brown; 11. Jasmine Salinas; 12. Josh Hart; 13. Cody Krohn; 14. Shawn Reed; 15. Tony Stewart; 16. Cameron Ferre.

1. Austin Prock; 2. J.R. Todd; 3. John Force; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Alexis DeJoria; 8. Bob Tasca III; 9. Daniel Wilkerson; 10. Chad Green; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. Buddy Hull; 13. Bobby Bode; 14. Dave Richards; 15. John Smith; 16. Paul Lee.

1. Jeg Coughlin; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Dallas Glenn; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Aaron Stanfield; 6. Cristian Cuadra; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 8. David Cuadra; 9. Deric Kramer; 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 11. Jerry Tucker; 12. Matt Hartford; 13. Larry Morgan; 14. Kenny Delco; 15. Brandon Foster; 16. Chris McGaha.

1. Gaige Herrera; 2. Jianna Evaristo; 3. Matt Smith; 4. Richard Gadson; 5. John Hall; 6. Hector Arana Jr; 7. Chase Van Sant; 8. Angie Smith; 9. Ron Tornow; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Chris Bostick; 12. Ryan Oehler; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Marc Ingwersen.

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.

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