There were plenty of big speeds, record-setting performances, competitive side-by-side racing action, hall of fame inductions and some amazing emotional winners at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, including Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, Austin Prock in Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock and Gaige Herrera in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

There was also a sleek brand-new Super Grip Thunder Valley Nationals trophy presented to all of the NHRA Mission Foods Series winners alongside the traditional NHRA Wally trophy during Winner's Circle ceremonies.

In short, there was a lot going on during the three-day NHRA Championship Drag Racing event at one of the most revered drag strips in the country.

Below are five things you may have missed during the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series race at historic Bristol Dragway.

  1. Legend of Thunder Valley Schumacher wins again at Bristol

    Tony Schumacher, inducted last year into the prestigious Legends of Thunder Valley, Bristol Dragway’s Hall of Fame, became the first member of the exclusive group to ever win an NHRA Mission Drag Racing Series race post-induction. John Force, who was inducted in 2016, has come close, but his last Bristol Dragway victory came in 2013. Mark Oswald, longtime co-crew chief for Antron Brown, is also looking for a Bristol victory since he was inducted in 2018. The only other of the 21 inductees to accomplish the feat is “Tricky” Rickie Smith, who was inducted for his Pro Stock prowess in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was able to win back-to-back NHRA Pro Modified Series races at Bristol in 2012 and 2013 after his 2007 induction.

    “That's amazing,” said Schumacher of his record seventh career Bristol Dragway win, “anytime you're on a (Hall of Fame) board. You look up there and see these legends. (Don ‘The Snake’) Prudhomme, my dad (Don Schumacher), (John) Force, that's a pretty good list of names to be with and I'm just proud and can't say enough. You don't wake up in the morning and go, ‘You know what would be great? If I could win a race with my name up there.’ It is another thing that gets mentioned after, but it's incredible."
  1. Muldowney officially inducted as Legend of Thunder Valley

    Speaking of the Legends of Thunder Valley, Shirley Muldowney, the ‘First Lady of Drag Racing,’ was officially inducted into the Bristol Dragway Hall of Fame on Sunday when Bristol Motor Speedway/Bristol Dragway President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell presented Muldowney with the official plaque and showed off her name etched high above the track on the grandstand suites. Caldwell, who has three daughters, said he was proud to be able to induct Shirley for all that she has done for women and all that she has meant to the sport of drag racing. Muldowney was emotional as she addressed the crowd during NHRA’s pre-race ceremonies.

    “This is special,” Muldowney said. “I thought I was dreaming when I got the call. I’m proud that I have been able to make it easier for the girls to get into the sport, and there are some really good ones out there right now.  To see my name up there is so wonderful. I am really happy right now.”
  1. Smoke has tough outing in Bristol Dragway debut

    Motorsports icon Tony Stewart has championship crowns in USAC, IndyCar and the NASCAR Cup Series. He is a Top Fuel rookie in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series this season and was certainly hoping for a better debut at Bristol Dragway during this past weekend’s Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

    Stewart qualified eighth with a time of 3.829 seconds at 312.64 mph in his Top Fuel dragster and was upset in the opening round of eliminations when Doug Foley slipped past him with a 3.878 at 301.74, while Stewart’s machine lost traction and trailed with a 5.131 at 148.41.

    “Moral of the story, it’s just a frustrating weekend, honestly," Stewart said. "Track conditions were tough. We are getting into the summer months, where we are going to have hot and challenging racetracks. I felt really good leaving Epping and was excited about coming here. We just couldn’t execute this weekend. We never really got the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage car in a happy place, where we felt like we could start pressing and moving the needle. We are struggling to find what this car wants right now. It is frustrating for all of us, especially Neal (Strausbaugh - crew chief), Mike (Domagala - co-crew chief) and Ryan (McGilvry - car chief). It’s tough for the whole team, myself included. We just have to put it behind us. There’s nothing we can do to fix it. All we can do is focus on Richmond in a couple of weeks, then Norwalk and the Western swing. We will keep our heads to the ground and keep grinding away at it."

    Stewart, who scored a NASCAR Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in the 2001 Night Race, took a sneak preview of Thunder Valley with his wife Leah a little while back. 

    “I remember coming here the first time with Leah (Pruett-Stewart), and it was just kind of cool. I had heard about it. I hadn’t even been to the drag strip yet, but I had heard a lot about it. And then finally getting the opportunity to come and see it firsthand and just see the landscape around it. It just is a super cool layout. The atmosphere is awesome here. The fans have been awesome today, so I’m very, very excited about getting to run here finally.”
  1. Bike record-breakers at Bristol

    NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Matt Smith and Gaige Herrera both set some incredible records during the weekend at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Smith claimed the No. 1 qualifying position by setting both ends of the track record with a performance of 6.759 seconds at 200.05 mph. As a bonus, Smith’s speed of 200.05 was the first-ever Pro Stock Motorcycle speed at more than 200 mph at historic Bristol Dragway.

    Meanwhile, two-wheel phenom Gaige Herrera continued to do amazing things. Even though he only qualified fourth and failed to win at Bristol last season, Herrera turned around his Bristol fortunes on Sunday by claiming the victory. The win broke some longstanding NHRA records, including Bob Glidden’s consecutive round win mark of 35 and the late Dave Schultz’ category consecutive victory record of nine in a row.

    “This Denso bike is pretty mean right now,” Smith said. “We've gone to work, we've got improvement in our program with 60 foots and we've got good power, and it is showing,” Smith said. “Like I said in Chicago, we've done more testing since Gainesville than the whole class combined. We're putting the work in. We're spending the money to get better, and it's showing.”

    Said Herrera: “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 the history books. It gets emotional sometimes when I think about it.”
  1. They Said It at Bristol Dragway

    NHRA icon John Force clarifying his statement on retirement following his recent win in New Hampshire: "I know I went in the press room, said a lot of stuff. I’m 100 years old. I got to leave here sometime. All I was saying is, ‘Here’s the future of John Force racing, this kid right here. I handed him the trophy. Because one thing, the fans, they really react funny. A driver maybe takes my seat, might make some of them mad. So I’m just telling them early, ‘Don’t waste your time. He’s coming because we want to keep winning. He’s the guy that will be able to do that for me if I quit in the next 25 years. I’ll be ready to retire by then."

    Top Fuel veteran and Tennessee native Clay Millican following his #Mission 2Fast2Tasty win and No. 1 qualifying performance: “This is my favorite track on the planet. I love me some Bristol.”

    Seven-time Bristol Funny Car winner Ron Capps, when asked about the possibility of one day becoming a Legend of Thunder Valley: “There’s just certain places that we go and we seem to do well. It is also strange that I’ve had the success here at this track with different crew chiefs and different owners actually. All three counting me as an owner. So you can’t really pinpoint something that you had a good car set up there or whatever it might be. Even a NASCAR driver that does well at a certain track has probably had different crew chiefs throughout his career and still done well. When I see the names up there those were the legends I would read about in magazines, there wasn’t internet back then. They are my heroes. So, to answer your question, I can’t even imagine being up there. I’ve often asked (John) Force what it’s like to walk around and see grandstands named in his honor. I would just be over the top to have my name up there with the Mount Rushmore of drag racing.”

    Three-time Bristol Dragway Pro Stock winner Erica Enders when asked if she thought Bristol Dragway is one of NHRA’s crown jewels and would she like to attend the Bristol Night Race: “For me it ranks way up there. The Bruton (Smith) facilities are amazing. Bristol is usually in the middle of our season and it’s a good marker of where you are as a team. I absolutely love racing at Thunder Valley. We have so many great memories at this facility and we are looking forward to adding to that list. Bristol was the turning point in our season last year. I would love to go to the Bristol Night Race, by the way. That is definitely on my bucket list."