CHEVROLET AT TOPEKA
Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties
Friday, May 19-Sunday, May 21
Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kansas
FS1: Eliminations and finals live – 2 p.m. ET Sunday
FS1: Qualifications live – 8 p.m. ET Saturday
FS1: Qualifications – 11 p.m. ET Friday
Chevrolet Drivers Seek to Extend Success in Three Classes in Kansas
Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals Opens the Second Quarter of Mello Yello Season
DETROIT (May 17, 2017) – Erica Enders says her runner-up Pro Stock finish two weeks ago at Atlanta Dragway was “the tip of the iceberg” for the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“There is a lot to be optimistic about. The really cool part is they know we are here now,” the two-time Pro Stock champion said.
Elite Motorsports, which returned to Team Chevy for the start of the 2017 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, has been building on performance gains the past few events with Enders, teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Vincent Nobile.
Enders is aiming for a breakthrough this weekend at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties in Topeka, Kansas. She has qualified fourth, second and sixth the past three races, and Coughlin is a two-time No. 1 qualifier the past three races on the way to a final and semifinal appearances.
Chevrolet drivers have won all seven Pro Stock events this season.
“We are going to do our best to carry the momentum we picked up in Atlanta and take it to Topeka,” Enders said. “We had a great day there in our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. All we need to do is get one step beyond that in Topeka and we’ll be back in the winner’s circle. We’d love for that to happen at Heartland Park.”
Enders won at Heartland Park in 2015 after snaring the No. 1 qualifier honor – one of her nine victories during her second championship season.
“Since the beginning of my driving career, I’ve always taken pride in what I do behind the wheel,” Enders said. “Back in 2014 and 2015, when we won our two titles, we have tried to do everything we can to win every round we race. That includes what I do behind the wheel.”
Courtney Force, driver of the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car for John Force Racing, also is looking to break into the win column this weekend. Force has been the No. 1 qualifier the past four races, but has endured early exits on race day. She was the No. 1 qualifier and won in 2014 at Heartland Park.
Her sister, Brittany, also has gone through a period of bad luck, chiefly because of a clutch issue in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster that was confirmed last week during testing. She has been the No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier twice and twice advanced to the semifinals in four races at the racetrack.
“We knew we had to come out and do some testing,” Force said. “They knew it was a problem in the clutch, and they figured it out. They knew before we got out here (to test at Indianapolis Raceway Park), and we fixed it. We made four runs right down the race track, so we’re excited and ready to get to the next one.”
FOX Sports 1 will telecast eliminations and finals live at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, along with a live telecast of qualifications at 3 p.m. ET Saturday.
In Super Stock, representing their home state in their Chevrolet COPO Camaros will be Dan Nixon of Hays, Kansas, and Ryan Montford of Wichita, Kansas. Also entered in Super Stock is Greg Stanfield of Bossier City, Louisiana, in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro.
Montford will do double duty, competing in Stock Eliminator in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro. Also entered are Robin Lawrence of Rockfield, Kentucky, Tyler Cassil of Belton, Missouri, and Jeff Lopez of Irving, Texas.
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.
CHEVROLET RACING ENGINEERING PREVIEW
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “After three consecutive weekends of racing, Chevrolet teams had a week’s break, but I wouldn’t call it a week off as many took the opportunity to seek performance gains and validate data with on-track testing or work in their shops. We’re moving into the middle portion of the NHRA Mello Yello season and Chevrolet teams have distinguished themselves in competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock. Chevrolet teams have swept Pro Stock No. 1 qualifiers and race winners, with KB Racing’s Bo Butner the only two-time winner in the seven races. Courtney Force has strung together four consecutive Funny Car No. 1 qualifier honors, and her John Force Racing teammates also are piling up round wins. We’re looking forward to more success from Team Chevy at Topeka and through the rest of the season.”
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (has qualified in top half of field in six of seven races; runner-up at Phoenix; two-time No. 1 qualifier at Topeka): “I’m positive that we have this bug out of our car. We’ve been struggling, and after Atlanta, my crew chiefs sat me down and said, ‘We figured out what the problem is. Now, it’s correcting it and getting better from here.’ I was to come out and test and see if we could work the problem out. Four runs (in testing), and we went down the racetrack. I think we’ve got our old car back. We’ve qualified No. 1 there, but we’ve never won the thing. Topeka would be an awesome first win to the season.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier the past four races; won at Topeka in 2014 as No. 1 qualifier): “I’m excited to be heading back to Topeka. This is obviously a track that I have a lot of great memories at: Being No. 1 qualifier along with my sister Brittany a few years back and then being able to take home that 100th win for women in our sport. That was a special moment for me. It’s really cool to be returning to a track that I’m really excited about. For all the females in the sport, it’s always a great reminder when we come to Topeka. It reminds us what we’ve accomplished in this sport and how things continue to evolve.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Gainesville this season; nine-time winner at Topeka; third in Funny Car standings): “We’re trying to get these cars consistent. My crew chiefs and I have been going through a lot of change, but we’re getting closer. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited to get back into town.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (advanced to final or semifinals the past three events; reset track speed record at Charlotte and Atlanta elapsed time record; two-time winner at Topeka; fourth in Funny Car standings): “When I first started with John Force Racing in 1995, Topeka is where I started. I flew into Topeka, met (crew chiefs) Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly and got started. And I got my Funny Car license in Topeka, too, in 2004. Love that place. We’re ready to get the monkey off our back and get a win. Topeka’s going to be a good place to do it. We’re right there. The car is running really good. I can’t wait.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning Pro Stock champion; 2016 Topeka winner): “Last year, Topeka became one of my new favorite places. It was an exciting weekend last time around, and now the challenge will be to try to repeat. It’s always a good feeling to finally win someplace where you haven’t done well, but that’s in the past. Right now, we’re looking forward. The KB Racing team has been working hard since the last race, and we’re focused on what we can do to put a Summit Racing Chevy Camaro in the winner’s circle this year.”
GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Pro Stock points leader; four-time winner at Topeka; runner-up in 2016 and ‘15): “This team has had an enjoyable time there in the past. I’ve raced at Heartland Park for a lot of years, and there is something about that racetrack that brings me back to my early days of racing. It’s one of those Midwest tracks that is similar to the ones we raced at when I was a kid, and that just puts a smile on your face. It’s a little bit different in terms of weather and altitude, and hopefully Mother Nature will be good to us. You never quite know what you’re going to get in terms of weather there, but it’s always exciting and a great place to race.”
BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (only two-time winner in Pro Stock this season; No. 2 in points by one point): “We’ve had a great car since the whole EFI deal started. I’ve learned a lot, the KB Racing guys have learned a lot about me, and now we really have something. It’s kind of cool; we pull in there every weekend and feel like we can be one of the top two or three guys to win the race. But it’s the competitiveness that keeps me excited. You cannot tell me who’s going to win Topeka or who is even going to be in the top 5. It’s a cool deal.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (two-time Pro Stock winner and two-time runner-up at Topeka; two-time No. 1 qualifier this season; fifth in points): “We’re really excited about the first seven races and are very much looking forward to this middle stretch of the 18-race regular season to climb further up the rankings. The entire Elite Motorsports race team has picked up a bunch of momentum the last few races with our team logging a runner-up finish in Houston, a couple of No. 1 qualifying efforts in Houston and Charlotte, and my teammate Erica Enders getting to the finals last race in Atlanta. The points are adding up and we all know these middle races count just as much as the ones nearer the end of the regular season when everyone is jockeying for playoff spots. It’s important to maintain our focus and continue working hard.”
ERICA ENDERS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, LUPE TORTILLA ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (two-time Pro Stock champion; track elapsed time and speed record-holder; finalist at Atlanta): “The next test comes this weekend. We are all excited to get there, and that includes my teammates Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile. They’re running strong also and our goal of being 1-2-3 at every race is getting closer.”
TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Las Vegas to become youngest winner in NHRA history; semifinalist at Phoenix and Atlanta; turned 18 on April 15): “My father (Shane Gray) and grandfather (Johnny Gray) have been very influential, both of them have given me a lot of great advice and have helped me out more than anything. They’ve been a very important key in how I’ve done so far and having them their every weekend and being able to go straight to them for advice is really cool. I like a track that is going to make me drive my Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS a little bit more, but I know there are also drivers who like a track that is really smooth and hooked up. You know, not a lot of driving and is just really fast. I like tracks that are more driver related.”
DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up at Phoenix; finalist at Charlotte; No. 2 qualifier at Atlanta): “I believe we’ve turned the corner with this 2017 Chevrolet Camaro and I am looking forward to going rounds this weekend at Topeka.”
VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (advanced to quarterfinals in five of the seven races; has won 10 races and been runner-up 10 times in 152 events): “We are testing on Wednesday in Oklahoma before Topeka this weekend. We are trying to get our Chevrolet Camaro dialed in. We are a little behind rest of the class but I’m confident we will get it figured out.”
MATTHEW HARTFORD, HARTFORD RACING, TOTAL SEAL-CIP1-NITROFISH CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, competing in fifth Pro Stock race of the season and 69th of his career; No. 10 qualifier in last race – Las Vegas).