Chevrolet Racing–NHRA–Gainesville Advance


48th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
Friday, March 17-Sunday, March 19
Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Florida
FS1: Eliminations and finals – 1 p.m. ET Sunday (live)

Chevrolet Drivers Primed to Repeat 2016 Sweep of Gatornationals Victories
Brittany Force, Robert Hight and Greg Anderson are defending race winners

DETROIT (March 15, 2017) – Brittany Force views the 2016 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals as a watershed weekend in her drag racing career.

The John Force Racing driver of the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster had recorded four No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier honors and raced to six runner-up finishes, including the previous event at Chandler, Arizona, before visiting the winner’s circle for the first time March 20 to cap the exciting Gatornationals.

The 48th edition of the National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event this weekend at Gainesville Raceway in Florida has a similar scenario involving Force, who registered her ninth second-place finish in the most recent event in Arizona. With momentum of consistent elimination round passes at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Force is looking to add to her Top Fuel victory total.

“Gainesville was huge, bringing home our first win,” said Force, who posted two other victories during the season en route to sixth place in the Top Fuel standings. “It’s something we’d been after since 2013, so to finally capture that at a race like the Gatornationals is something I’m very proud of. The whole day was so great. I remember every single detail.

“Going back to the track, the Monster Energy team wants to do it all over again. We want to bring home that win. We want consistent runs all weekend, we want to turn those win lights on and bring home that win.”

Chevrolet drivers swept the three professional categories last year at Gainesville, with Robert Hight driving the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to the Funny Car victory and Greg Anderson winning the Pro Stock final in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS.

Force, who is third in the Top Fuel standings after two events, tied her career-best pass of 3.676 seconds in the first round on race day at Wild Horse Pass. She sought incremental gains and consistency with runs the next day during testing at the racetrack in her Chevrolet dragster.

“We’re still looking for our first win of the season, and we’d love to repeat last year and bring home that first win at the Gatornationals in Gainesville,” she said. “Going to the final round in Phoenix shows how close we are.”

Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS), who celebrated his birthday March 14, has won the past two Gatornationals, and Hight (Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS) has won at the Florida track three times since 2012. Hight, along with teammates John Force and Courtney Force, will seek to surpass 2,500 Funny Car round wins for John Force Racing. The team has 2,495 compiled by nine drivers during its NHRA tenure.

“Going into a race as the defending champion always gives you a little bit of confidence because you’ve won before,” said Hight, who has 37 career wins. “A lot of racetracks – if you haven’t done well – it’s all mental.”

Anderson recorded his 87th career Pro Stock victory at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and was runner-up to KB Racing teammate and reigning Pro Stock champion Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the season opener at Pomona, California. Anderson sits atop the Pro Stock standings, with Line – a four-time Gatornationals winner – 30 points behind. The top 10 spots are occupied by Team Chevy drivers.

FOX Sports 1 will telecast eliminations and finals live starting at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

Eight Chevrolet COPO Camaro drivers will compete this weekend in the first of five School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events scheduled for the season.

David Barton of Pennsylvania, a three-time winner last year in the Factory Stock Showdown in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, will be joined by two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, Todd Patterson, Stephen Bell, Richard Bierie, Arthur Kohn, Peter Gasko and Waldemar Rodrigues representing the Bowtie Brand.

Barton, the son of engine builder Ray Barton, owns the quickest time slip in the history of Stock Eliminator at 8.073 seconds, set in 2016 at the Factory Stock Showdown in Indianapolis.

Reigning Stock Eliminator champion Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, will make his season debut in his 2017 Chevy Chevrolet COPO Camaro in 70-entry Stock Eliminator class. Also entered:
Adam Badgett of Mount Airy, North Carolina, in the GM Parts Now Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Robin Lawrence of Rockfield, Kentucky, in the Holley EFI Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Darren Poole-Adams of Shelby, North Carolina, in the DPA Equipment Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Tim Lowe of Macy, Indiana, in the Tim Lowe Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Emily Volkman of Campobello, South Carolina, in the Poole-Adams Racing Chevrolet COPO Camaro

Stephen Bell of Shreveport, Louisiana, leads the Chevrolet COPO Camaro contingent in Super Stock. Also competing in the 64-car class:
Arthur Krohn of Richmond, Texas, in the AK Industries Chevrolet COPO Camaro
Brandon Bakies of Alexandria, Louisiana, in the School of Automotive Machinists Chevrolet COPO Camaro

Chevrolet will welcome fans to its Chevrolet Performance Display during the weekend. It will include numerous award-winning Chevrolet production vehicles, examples of Chevrolet engines, and a selection of performance parts and accessories that are available for fans to purchase from their local Chevrolet dealer.

ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “Through two NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, Chevrolet drivers and teams have experienced success in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock. With considerable preseason and between event testing, Team Chevy also has been building for future success in the remaining 22 events. Last year, Chevrolet teams and drivers won the Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock titles at the Gatornationals, and we look forward to seeing a Bowtie Brand trifecta in the winner’s circle again.”


BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (advanced to the final in most recent event at Wild Horse Pass as No. 7 qualifier; competing in 99th career Top Fuel event; is third in Top Fuel standings): “(At Phoenix) We figured out what was going wrong with our car and why we couldn’t get down the racetrack. That’s why it made solid passes the rest of that weekend. We’re making a few changes for Gainesville, and it will be a whole new setup just because the weather conditions, track conditions will be so different. We’ll figure it out in qualifying.”

COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (advanced to finals in season opener; has been Nos. 2 and 3 qualifier in first two races; No. 2 qualifier at 2016 Gatornationals; third in Funny Car standings): “It’s going to be a long year, but I think we have a championship-winning team. To be in the seat in that car, knowing the consistency we’ve built makes me feel good. My focus is definitely for that championship, and I feel confident in saying that because of the team, the crew chiefs and the car we currently have. For myself as a driver, I’ll keep pushing myself harder to get better at driving, to get better at reaction times. Every pass we make out there, you learn something new. I still don’t consider myself a veteran, but I definitely have fun and love what I do. Having the confidence and knowing that we have a great race car, we’re putting it toward feeling positive going into the season.”

JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (seven-time Gatornationals winner; won Gatornationals en route to Funny Car championship six times; will be reunited with crew chief Mike Neff, who moves from Robert Hight’s Camaro): “We’re going to go in with high hopes. But it’s a long season, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m going back with Mike Neff, who I won a championship with a few years back (2010), as well as Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch, who I won four races with last year, and finished fourth in the points. We’re excited about it.”

ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (three-time Gainesville winner, most recently in 2016; will be reunited this weekend with crew chief Jimmy Prock, who moves from the John Force Camaro): “Jimmy and I, I think I was with him for nine seasons, and we were best friends. There wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t talk about the race car and what we were going to do, and it was a lot of fun. He really included me in things, and I’m excited to be back with him; (he’s a) very smart guy. I was really excited when we get him over the winter, got him back in here, because I knew he was going to make all of our teams stronger. When I called the Auto Club and told them we had made the swap, their words were, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool. It’s a reunion.’ ”

JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning Pro Stock champion; four-time Gatornationals winner; won season opener at Pomona, California; No. 1 qualifier in 2016 Gatornationals): “It was great to win the Winternationals and then Phoenix as a team, but we left Arizona and knew we had work to do. It is plain to see that everybody is getting faster, and right now, I think any time we can spend in the shop is valuable time. That’s where you’re going to make your gains, not at the racetrack – so even though we did test before Gainesville, we spent a whole heck of a lot of time on the dyno and in the engine shop. It’s been a good track for us, and hopefully, history repeats itself this weekend and we can take our Summit Racing Chevy Camaros to the final round.”

GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (first in Pro Stock standings; won last event at Wild Horse Pass and was runner-up in season opener): “Gainesville Raceway is right in the KB Racing wheelhouse; our Summit Racing Chevy Camaros always run real fast there, and it’s such a smooth racetrack. It’s just one of those Pro Stock-style tracks, and there are a lot of Pro Stock fans down there – so it makes it a darn fun race. That particular racetrack has always been special to me, and I think it’s the first big race my father, Rod, ever took me to. I still remember the big alligator they used to have there on the grounds in a little pond. It scared the crap out of me, but that was sure cool.”

TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (competing in third Pro Stock event; No. 3 qualifier and advanced to semifinals in last event at Wild Horse Pass; tested this week at Bradenton, Florida): “We went to Bradenton (Motorsports Park) in December and it proved to be successful for the team. I am excited about any opportunity I have to drive the Valvoline Chevy Camaro and the ability to continue to develop consistencies. The more runs you make, the more things you learn. You learn something with every run you make, and I’m going to learn things about myself, too.”

DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN RACING, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up in most recent event at Wild Horse Pass as No. 9 qualifier; competing in 49th career Pro Stock event in Camaro prepared by Gray Motorsports): “We made quick, significant gains on race day at Phoenix, so we’re pleased with the progress. There’s still more work to do, but it’s a long season and we’ll take it one day at a time.”

BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (semifinalist in season opener; Nos. 5 and 6 qualifier in first two events; competing in 45th career Pro Stock event; No. 2 qualifier at Gatornationals in 2016): “I’ve had some success in Gainesville, and I actually won Stock Eliminator there (2013). After Phoenix, we knew we needed to do some testing before Gainesville. The car itself needs it just as much as I do, and even though it’s a busy time with work, I knew I had to make time to do this. I’m eager to get back in the car.”

JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (semifinalist in last event in second race in the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS; two-time winner and three-time runner-up at Gainesville): “The Gatornationals are just phenomenal. I grew up dreaming about that race, reading National Dragster and the stories about all my heroes winning this event. It’s one of the majors on the schedule and I’m honored to have won here myself in the past. “We had a decent run in Phoenix, reaching the semis, and the good news is we feel there is room to tidy some things up and go quicker. I believe we can go the distance this Sunday. It won’t be easy but it never is in this class.”

ERICA ENDERS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (seeking first Gatornationals victory; reached semifinal round in season opener in return to Chevrolet Racing; holds track speed record of 215.55 mph): “I’ve always looked at the Gatornationals as one of the big-time, heritage races on the schedule so certainly we’d love to win it. There’s a real party atmosphere with spring break and St. Patrick’s Day going on, plus all the people escaping the snow up north come down for the weekend. It’s always a lot of fun. All three (Elite Motorsports) cars have started well and we’re all in the top 10 in the Mello Yello points so we’re happy.”

VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Nos. 3 and 4 qualifier in first two events; Elite Motorsports teammate to Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders): “We are looking forward to the Gatornationals; it’s the season opener for the East Coast. We were supposed to test on Sunday and Monday in Oklahoma but due to inclement weather we had to cancel it. We’ve been running decent and consistent so I am still confident we will be just fine. We would definitely like to go some rounds and maybe even come home with the Wally.”

CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (driving the 2017 Camaro; making 101st Pro Stock start of career; No. 8 qualifier in first two events): “We’re definitely figuring out the new car. Our team has been working hard at the shop the last two weeks and we’re took our Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro to test this week before we go to Gainesville. We’re making gains in the right direction and I’m ready to see what we can do at Gainesville.”

MATTHEW HARTFORD, HARTFORD RACING, TOTAL SEAL-CIP1-NITRO FISH CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (making third start of the season and 67th of Pro Stock career; Scottsdale, Arizona, resident seeking first national victory)

JOHN GAYDOSH JR., GAYDOSH PERFORMANCE, GAYDOSH PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (making first start of the season and 73rd of his Pro Stock career; seeking first national victory)

KENNY DELCO, JCM RACING, JCM RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (making third start of the season and 153rd of his Pro Stock career)

VAL SMELAND, DVS RACING, DVS RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (making third start of the season in Camaro prepared by Kenny Delco; making 13th Pro Stock start of his career; seeking first elimination round victory)