Chevy Racing–NHRA– Atlanta Preview


Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals
Friday, May 5-Sunday, May 7
Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Georgia
FS1: Eliminations and finals – 6 p.m. ET Sunday
FS1: Qualifications – 8 p.m. ET Friday
FS1: Qualifications – 1 a.m. ET Sunday

Chevrolet Drivers Aim to Continue Fast Passes in Three Pro Classes in Atlanta
NHRA Southern Nationals Completes Three Consecutive Weekends of Racing

DETROIT (May 3, 2017) – At the quarter pole of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Chevrolet has run the table in the Pro Stock class.

But unlike 2016 – the inaugural season of electronic fuel injection – when KB Racing teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line combined to win the first 13 events, parity has emerged. Six different drivers – all competing in their Chevrolet Camaro SS – have won the initial six races. The total includes a pair of first-time winners.

“The Pro Stock class is so close right now. We’ve had six different winners in the first six races. How’s that for parity?” said Jeg Coughlin Jr., a five-time NHRA Pro Stock champion. “Now we need to add a seventh different winner this weekend in Atlanta.”

Coughlin, who has been the No. 1 qualifier the past two races in his Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS, would gladly take a place in the winner’s circle in the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, for the fourth time in his career.

“We will be ready for Commerce. We have a mean hot rod and I can tell you the driver has never been more motivated,” Coughlin added.

Many teams were motivated but not up to the task of regularly running quicker than KB Racing in 2016 following the sweeping NHRA rules changes that also included a 10,500 rev limiter, removal of the hood scoops, and a shorter wheelie bar length. Line and Anderson both won eight races and finished 1-2, respectively, in the standings.

“Some people just have a quicker learning curve than others. It took a while for some of us to catch up,” said Chris McGaha, who won the 2016 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – the final event before the Countdown to the Championship – and prevailed April 30 in the all-Camaro final of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.

McGaha said the class continues to evolve, and is relevant to fans.

“There used to be 35 cars, but more than likely there we only three guys that were going to win in the old days,” he noted. “I will say now there are 10 to 12 cars that are true competitive, get it done on Sunday cars out there.”

Added points leader Anderson, who is a four-time winner and has been the runner-up the past three years at Atlanta Dragway: “We’ve got the equipment that we can run well, win races, and win the championship. It’s just a matter of executing. It’s going to be a tough, tough season. We’ve already had six winners, and there are a lot of great cars that haven’t won.”

John Force Racing’s Funny Car program aligns with that statement. The trio of John Force (PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS), Robert Hight (Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Courtney Force (Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS) have produced four No. 1 qualifier spots – including the past three events by Courtney Force – and seven in the top three. John Force won at Gainesville, while Hight and Courtney Force each have a runner-up finish.

Courtney Force will drive her back-up car this weekend after an incident in the first round of eliminations at zMAX Dragway in which the car struck the right-side retaining wall. She was uninjured.

“We’re going through a lot this week,” John Force said. “The teams will be working hard, and we’ve had team meetings. We tested with two of our teams (May 1) at Charlotte, and the other two went back to the shop to fix Courtney’s car and work on Brittany’s dragster.

“We’re going to go to Atlanta and win. We turned the corner in Charlotte – but we turned the corner a few races back. We’re not where we want to be, but now we’re going to start getting this act together.”

Atlanta has been a good venue for Force, who has seven Funny Car victories at the track. He advanced to the final round each year between 1992 and 2000.

Brittany Force (Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster) has qualified in the top half of the field in all six Top Fuel events, but she said the car is “a little stiff and a little heavy” since alterations were made following her final-round appearance at Phoenix in late February. The NHRA also made a rules change to the frame. Her crew was re-tuning the front end at the team’s Indiana shop this week.

FOX Sports 1 will telecast eliminations and finals at 6 p.m. ET Sunday.

Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, the 2016 Stock Eliminator champion, leads the Chevrolet COPO Camaro drivers in Stock Eliminator category. Also among the full field of 50 entries:
Adam Badgett of Mount Airy, North Carolina
Emily Volkman of Campobello, South Carolina
Richard Bierie of Acworth, Georgia

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: “We’ve reached the quarter pole of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and Chevrolet teams and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and the SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown have enjoyed success. It’s a testament to the work behind the scenes of the crews during the off-season, the on-track testing programs, and the skill of the drivers. We expect Team Chevy drivers to continue to make weekly visits to the winner’s circle, including this weekend at Atlanta Dragway. It’s the conclusion of three consecutive weeks of racing, so teams will get a brief breather before hitting the racetrack again. Best of luck to all the Chevrolet teams.”


BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (has qualified in top half of field in all six races): “Atlanta is going to be tough for our guys. They headed back to Indianapolis on Monday morning to ‘front-half’ the car and then get it over to Atlanta for the weekend. It’s a lot of work but I know the guys can do it. I always appreciate my team and everything they do. I know we will make it happen and to bring home a win there, would make everything worth it.”

COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier the past three races with three track records set; No. 3 qualifier and semifinalist at 2016 Atlanta race): “We have a car that is flying and really just needing to figure out how to get it fixed up for first round. We keep having this problem where it’s trying to spin down and I am hoping we can get it solved. I thought we did after Houston. We have a fast car, which isn’t a bad problem to have, but we just have to slow it down enough to get it through these rounds.”

JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Gainesville this season; seven-time winner in 15 final-round appearances at Atlanta; turned 68 on May 4): “The guys are on top of it. The aerodynamics are great and this car is really good. The motor is showing power, but we have to get some more improvements for our motor program. We are right there. They tell me I’ve won the most in Atlanta, but that doesn’t matter. We’re going to go to Atlanta and win. We turned the corner in Charlotte, but we turned the corner a few races back. We’re not where we want to be, but now we’re going to start getting this act together.”

ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (advanced to final and semifinals the past two events; reset track speed record last week at Charlotte; has three wins in six final-round appearances at Atlanta): “Love the track in Atlanta, love the fans, and it’s always nice to go to a place where you have had some success. We have had a lot of success there and looking at the long-range forecast it looks like it’s going to be nice and cool. So we are going to be able to thunder and make some good runs there.”

JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning Pro Stock champion; No. 1 qualifier in four of the six events; three-time Atlanta winner, including past two years): “Every racetrack is in our wheelhouse, but KB Racing has really had some good races at Atlanta Dragway. I like going there, but over the last two races we’ve had some issues that haven’t helped our cause. That’s part of the game, though, and part of the mechanical challenge. We just have to work through it. We aren’t quite as good as we were last year, and we’re certainly doing better than some other teams out there, but we have room for improvement. At the same time, Team Summit is a group of really good folks with a lot of experience and dedication, so we know what we can accomplish. We are a capable group, no doubt about it, and that means we go to every race knowing that we can win.”

GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Pro Stock points leader; runner-up the past two events; four-time winner at Atlanta and runner-up past three years; older brother Jeff will drive Chevrolet Camaro in Super Stock – the first time they’ve competed in same event): “I have a lot of time into that track, all those years I raced down in Atlanta with the Johnsons. Since the years I’ve been on my own with this race team, I’ve had a lot of success at that racetrack, too. I always look forward to going to that one. We’re happy with our guys, our team, our product, and our performance. We were just a tick off last weekend, but we get it right and we’ll win again.”

BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (earned first Pro Stock victory two weeks ago; finalist in two of the six races; No. 2 in points): “It’s great to be No. 2, but that’s nothing until the end. We just have to win rounds. I was trying to go the whole season and not have a first-round loss. If you add that up at the end of the year, that’s huge. We’re looking forward to Atlanta. That’s my first Pro Stock race two years ago, and everything was a whirlwind. Now we can go in, I’m a little more relaxed – luckily we got that win in Houston and now that’s out of the way. We just want to go rounds.”

JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier the past two races; three-time winner at Atlanta; his wife, Samantha, will drive a Corvette in Super Gas at Atlanta): “It’s been very encouraging to say the least. But I know we’d trade these No. 1 qualifiers for race wins any day. That’s the next thing on the to-do list, to be honest, and I don’t care if it’s me, Erica (Enders) or Vincent Nobile that gets it done. We want all of our cars to do well. We will be ready for Commerce. We have a mean hot rod and I can tell you the driver has never been more motivated.”

ERICA ENDERS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, LUPE TORTILLA ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (two-time Pro Stock champion; No. 2 qualifier at Charlotte; holds Atlanta track Pro Stock elapsed time record of 6.493 seconds): “For Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and I to qualify 1-2 on the ladder, run the kind of numbers we have run here, I would have bet the house that we’d be fighting for the trophy at the end of the day. It just goes to show that even the best in the world have off days. I just want to focus on the performance gains we had last week.”

SHANE GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Gainesville earlier this season; finalist at Charlotte; competing in limited scheduled in 2017): “I consider Atlanta Dragway a home away from home. It is only three hours away from Charlotte and it is very familiar to me and my Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro team. We know the track conditions and can predict how the race car is going to perform. Our cars came so close last weekend at the four-wide, I feel another Gray Motorsports, Team Chevy victory coming really soon. Our team efforts are better than ever. We have great people working on our team that can give both Tanner (Gray) and me the best race car on the grounds come Sunday.”

TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Las Vegas to become youngest winner in NHRA history; semifinalist at Phoenix; turned 18 on April 15): “Coming off of two races in which I have ended my Sunday early from red light starts both in Houston and Charlotte, I am going to work on staying calm and on my staging procedures. As I get more seat time, the car will start to feel like home. Since this is my first year racing Pro Stock, the majority of drag strips will be foreign to me and therefore I will not have any experience racing them. This weekend looks like it is going to be cooler conditions, but from what I have heard, Atlanta Dragway has a tendency to be a little bit bumpy.”

DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up at Phoenix; finalist at Charlotte): “We have a brand new car and as we learn we’re getting the car under control. The ’17 Camaro has been really good. We just have to figure out how to use it with our program. That’s where the learning is going to come from. Three weekends in a row of racing is good for us with this new car. You just keep making runs to learn and gather data. First weekend we took it out was kind of a disaster. This past weekend was better, and this weekend hopefully is on that same upward trend.”

SHANE TUCKER, TUCKER RACING, AUZMET ARCHITECTURAL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (competing in second event of season; competed in four races in 2016): “The fact that we get to go straight to Atlanta after making such huge gains in Charlotte is huge for our team. Running our own stuff is a big deal for all of us at Rob Tucker Racing. I’m really happy with my driving, too, so I’m excited to head to Atlanta.”

VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (advanced to quarterfinals in four of the six races; has won 10 races and been runner-up 10 times in 151 races): “We’re going into Atlanta hoping we found the problem. We always seem to get put behind the eight ball during qualifying, which doesn’t help on race day. If we want to make a move, now is the time. We know we have to be competitive and we are trying to get up to speed with everyone else. The good news is my teammates Erica (Enders) and Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) cars are coming around, so now it’s a matter of time before my Chevrolet Camaro does.”

CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Charlotte as No. 4 qualifier; semifinalist at Gainesville): “I was fixin’ to stay home and work on our dyno for the next five races but that all changed when we won on Sunday. After Atlanta, we won’t be back until Norwalk but I guess we’ve got some momentum going and I’m excited to see if we can do it all again in Atlanta.”