CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK IN MADISON, ILLINOIS
SUNDAY, OCT. 1, 2017
Chevrolet Continues Pro Stock Mastery in Third Race of the Countdown
· Greg Anderson beats KB Racing teammate Jason Line in Pro Stock final
· Nos. 1 and 2 qualifier Robert Hight, John Force reach Funny Car semifinals
· Brittany Force posts career-best Top Fuel run, third-fastest in history
· Peter Gasko Jr. wins SAM Tech Showdown in Chevrolet COPO Camaro
MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 1, 2017) – For one weekend at least, KB Racing drivers relived their domination of the 2016 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock season.
Greg Anderson, driving the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated KB Racing teammate and reigning Pro Stock champion Jason Line on a holeshot by three-thousandths of a second — about 12 inches after cutting a .030-of-a-second light — in the final of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
Anderson, the four-time Pro Stock champion, vaulted to the top of the Pro Stock standings with his third victory of the 24-race season and 89th of his career. He had been runner-up the previous three races.
“You couldn’t draw it up and better. Just a dream weekend,” said Anderson, who reached the final round for the 148th time in his 425-race career. “We gained a lot of points against some tough competition. Two Summit Chevys in the final round. It doesn’t get any better.”
Last year, in the inaugural season of fuel injection in the Pro Stock class, Anderson and Line combined for 16 victories and 15 low qualifier spots. Competition has been exceptionally stout this season, with nine different drivers visiting the winner’s stage. Chevrolet has won all 21 Pro Stock races.
Anderson, Line and second-year teammate Bo Butner have combined for eight wins.
After three consecutive weekends of racing to reach the halfway mark of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, Chevrolet teams and drivers will enjoy a brief respite before returning to competition Oct. 13-15 for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis.
“I think it’s going to take an average of a runner-up finish to win this thing,” said Anderson, who joined Butner and rookie Tanner Gray (Gray Motorsports/Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS) as Countdown winners. “I predicted at the start of the Countdown that you’re probably going to have six different winners in the six playoff races, and so far we’re right on schedule. I’ve got one and I’m going to keep digging.”
Anderson led a KB Racing sweep of the top three qualifiers for his 91st No. 1 qualifier honor. Line, the No. 3 qualifier in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated No. 2 qualifier Butner (Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) on a holeshot by five-thousandths of a second in one semifinal, while Anderson ousted Brian Self (Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the other semifinal.
Erica Enders, who won at the track in 2012 and ’13, was among the first-round winners in the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS. Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Larry Morgan (Racerdirect.net/RJS Safety Chevrolet Camaro SS) also were first-round winners. Morgan was competing in his 619th career event – third-most among pro drivers – since 1987. His first-round opponent, Alex Laughlin (Gas Monkey Garage/360 Wraps Chevrolet Camaro SS), was born in 1988. Laughlin won the event in 2016.
Robert Hight, driving the AAA of Missouri Chevrolet Camaro SS, and teammate John Force advanced to the Funny Car semifinals. Hight secured his 56th No. 1 qualifier honor of his career, seventh of the season and second event in a row with a track elapsed time-record 3.830-second pass in qualifications.
Force, driving the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, was the No. 2 qualifier. He’s 86-29 in eliminations when the No. 2 qualifier. Force, who moved up two positions to sixth in the Countdown standings, lost to eventual event winner and Funny Car points front-runner Ron Capps. Hight remains second in the standings.
Courtney Force, who was the runner-up in the first two events of the Countdown in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, was the No. 7 qualifier and lost on a holeshot to her father, John, in the quarterfinals. She won at Gateway Motorsports Park in 2014.
Brittany Force made a career-best 3.644-second pass in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations. The elapsed time also was the third-fastest in NHRA Top Fuel history. Force, the No. 5 qualifier in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, fell in the quarterfinals. She remained in third place in the Countdown standings.
“To be able to come out on race day and run your career-best ET and third-best run in Top Fuel is pretty outstanding,” said Force, who won the previous week at Reading, Pennsylvania. “A 3.64 – we went way beyond our previous best run of 3.67. It’s not like we came close or right around it; we stepped up big time. We put that number on the board, and I was very proud of this team to do that, especially on race day. That’s not easy to do.
“Unfortunately, we went out early. Right now, we’re still hanging third in points and we’re hoping to keep that through the rest of the day. We’ll just battle it out at the next one.”
Peter Gasko Jr. of Monroe Township, New Jersey, won the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown in his supercharged Chevrolet COPO Camaro for the second time in the five-race series this season. The School of Automotive Machinists (SAM Tech) series expands to seven events in 2018.
Gasko, 20, a Cornell University student, was the low qualifier in the 16-car competition. His pass of 8.163 seconds at 167.03 mph knocked out Kevin Skinner in the final round. Gasko defeated David Barton, also a two-time winner who wrapped up the series title in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, in the semifinals. Scott Libersher, driving a Chevrolet COPO Camaro, fell in the other semifinal.
“It’s a great event and I love the car,” Gasko said. “We were playing with power management and getting down the track. It just all worked out for us. It was amazing.”
In Super Stock competition, Greg Stanfield of Bossier City, Louisiana, was the No. 3 qualifier in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro and advanced to the semifinals before falling.
Leonard Libersher of Wilmington, Illinois, was the No. 1 qualifier in Stock Eliminator in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro. He advanced to the fourth round of eliminations. Also qualifying in the top 10 in their Chevrolet COPO Camaros were Arthur Kohn of Richmond, Texas, Todd Patterson of Augusta, Kansas, Clay Arnett of Hartsville, Indiana, Richard Bierie of Acworth, Georgia, Erica Enders of Houston, and Jeff Lopez of Irving, Texas.
Lopez, Patterson and Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, the No. 36 qualifier, reached the third round of eliminations. Strickland was the 2016 Stock Eliminator champion.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to Greg Anderson and KB Racing for continuing the Chevrolet domination of the Pro Stock class this season in another highly competitive race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Also, congratulations to Robert Hight and John Force – the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers in Funny Car, who advanced to the semifinals. Robert set a track elapsed time record in qualifications to claim his seventh No. 1 qualifier honor of the season and 56th of his distinguished career. And Brittany Force’s 3.644-second pass in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations, which was a career best and the third-fastest in NHRA history, was scintillating.
After a well-deserved break after three consecutive weekends of racing, it’s off to Texas for the fourth round of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.”
CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK IN MADISON, ILLINOIS
POST-RACE DRIVER QUOTES
SUNDAY, OCT. 1, 2017
An interview with Pro Stock winner GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier for 91st time in career and fourth time this season; 89th career victory and third of season; defeated KB Racing teammate Jason Line on holeshot in final; was competing in 425th career race; takes top spot in Pro Stock points):
Q: COULD YOU IMAGINE A MORE PERFECT WEEKEND?
GREG ANDERSON: You couldn’t draw it up and better. Just a dream weekend. We gained a lot of points against some tough competition. Two Summit Chevys in the final round. It doesn’t get any better. Thank you, Summit (Racing Equipment). Sorry it’s been so long. Thank you, Chevy.
Q: THIS WAS A KB WEEKEND. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS WEEKEND?
GREG ANDERSON: I think our team just loves super tracks. This weekend with this weather – the conditions we’ve had and the cool temperatures – the great fans in the stands is everything we need to race fast. It was run what you brung, and we fortunately brought enough.
Q: THREE RACES TO GO. EVERYBODY IS GOING TO BE WORKING BEFORE GETTING TO DALLAS.
GREG ANDERSON: It was a great points day for KB Racing. We’ve been racing really tough competitors in the playoffs. I think it’s going to take an average of a runner-up finish to win this thing. I predicted at the start of the Countdown that you’re probably going to have six different winners in the six playoff races, and so far we’re right on schedule. I’ve got one and I’m going to keep digging.
Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE KNOWING YOU HAD TO BREAK THROUGH?
GREG ANDERSON: Well, it had been three final rounds in a row. It’s hard to win out here. My race car worked great all weekend, but I had a little bit of an issue with my engine – it was a little bit off speed-wise – so even though the car was working great I was kind of getting passed by as we were getting down the racetrack by my two teammates. I knew I was in deep in the final and it would take a stroke of luck to win it. Everything just fell into place. I refused to look over all the way down the racetrack. Jason had a great race car all weekend. Three runner-ups and a win. I’ve been telling people all year that you need to peak at the right time, and I believe I have. It’s all you can ask. It’s going to take finishes like that the rest of the way out to have a chance to win this thing. Great day. We executed at the highest level. There are so many cars that can win it. That’s what’s so great about NHRA Pro Stock racing.
Q: WHEN YOU’RE RUNNER-UP AND YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE CAR TO WIN, DO YOU BEAT YOURSELF UP?
GREG ANDERSON: Absolutely. The thing about drag racing is there are two cars out there and somebody is going to leave the starting line second. Somebody is going to be last leaving the starting line every time. It’s a tough feeling on a driver when you do, but it’s going to happen, and you have to learn to pick yourself off the mat and get back in the game when that happens. I feel like a boxer. You get slugged constantly, but if you dodge enough of the punches and you find a way to win it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
Q: WHO IS YOUR TOUGHEST COMPETITION?
GREG ANDERSON: There are a lot of them. My two teammates are tough guys to get around because their cars are every bit as fast or faster than mine. You’ve got the two Gray cars with Tanner Gray and Drew Skillman, who just drive the lights out of the cars. They have fast race cars and cut killer lights. They are what I would consider the toughest two, but there’s still three or four more that can win this thing. When we get to Pomona, you want to be in the lead or within 50 or 100 points of the lead because it’s points and a half. I guarantee it right now, when we get to Pomona there’s going to be five cars alive on that day to win the championship.
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (No. 5 qualifier; fell in quarterfinals): “To be able to come out on race day and run your career-best ET and third-best run in Top Fuel is pretty outstanding. A 3.64 – we went way beyond our previous best run of 3.67. It’s not like we came close or right around it; we stepped up big time. We put that number on the board, and I was very proud of this team to do that, especially on race day. That’s not easy to do. Unfortunately, we went out early. Right now, we’re still hanging third in points and we’re hoping to keep that through the rest of the day. We’ll just battle it out at the next one.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier; fell in quarterfinals on holeshot to John Force): “It was a great job by my Advance Auto Parts team. I’m really proud of my guys. They gave me a fast race car all day. I took out a Kalitta car — JR Todd – in Round 1 and ran a 3.88, which is a solid pass. Came out in Round 2 and had a matchup against my dad and that PEAK car, and unfortunately he beat me on a holeshot, so it was a tough day. It’s a tough loss for me as a driver. My guys gave me a great race car and we’ll be ready to go again in Dallas. We’re halfway through the Countdown and still in a good spot as we retained the No. 3 spot even after this weekend. We’re going to have to make things happen in Dallas.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; fell in semifinals): “I finally got a race car that I can race and I had a car that could win today. I don’t know what happened down there. I can’t make any excuse. I let it get over and it got me into the wall. I know the left lane will suck you outside and the right lane will take you to the right, but I didn’t feel it. I moved over but not enough that I thought it would make any difference. I didn’t even know I was over, and the next thing I knew I was into the wall. I did scrape the wall. But if you’re going to win, you have to live on the edge. I had a car that could win and we’ve moved up in the points (sixth).”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AAA OF MISSOURI CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier; fell in semifinals): “It was a good weekend to show off in front of them: No. 1 qualifier. We struggled yesterday, and then first round made a nice, solid run. Second round, got a win against a big competitor. It hurt No. 7, though, so we had a lot of work to do between rounds. It dropped a cylinder in the semis, picked it back up at almost a second, but that was enough to kill the run. It’s not like we’re struggling or searching for a combination. I feel like we can roll right into Dallas and right off the trailer qualify No. 1, get three more points, and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s another big AAA race for us, and I’m looking forward to that. No matter what, we’re leaving here within striking distance.”
BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; semifinals): “I would take that round for the rest of the year. If I could be better than .030 (of a second on the tree) and make a good, clean run, I would take that. But I lost to a guy (teammate Jason Line) who was .005. He did a good job. We’re succeeding in our goal of being 1, 2, 3 (in points). I’ve said it before – we don’t care about the order. It’s going to be fun. One of us could fault, but all three of us won’t. I don’t think the (points) mean anything until Pomona. The difference is so small. I’m not concerned about the points. We’re spreading away from the rest of the pack, which is good for us.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; fell in final): “I faltered today in the final and didn’t do a good job. I feel like I’ve done well through the Countdown, but today, in the final round, I did not drive well. I just lost focus, but that’s .02-second of lost focus. Most folks can’t fathom how hard it is to maintain that focus. These cars, being stick/clutch cars, the staging process and everything is super important. I missed it a little bit today, that’s all, and it cost me a race I should have won. But it was still a good day, for sure. It was a good day for me for points, and a real feel-good day for my hot rod. My Summit Racing Chevy Camaro is definitely back in good shape, and that’s something we haven’t had for a while. The last three races, we made big improvements. Timing is everything, and we’re moving up in the world. We’re slowing chipping away, and it’s not over until it’s over.”
TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 6 qualifier; fell in first round – red light foul): “Today wasn’t our day to win. I am the hardest on myself when it comes to my performance off of the starting line. I just missed it today. I want to win this championship for my guys and bring it back to Gray Motorsports. We have never won a championship and to be the first one to do it would be pretty cool. The support of my team is awesome. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication and the hard work that they put into giving me a great race car on race day. It will be nice to have a weekend off since we’ve been racing three weekends in a row. Then we’ll regroup and get ready to race in Dallas, where we will continue to pursue the championship.”
DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier; fell in first round): “After a solid qualifying effort, it was disappointing race day. I won here in 2015 and thought I had a car that could do it again. We’re still in it, and head to Dallas – where we won last year – ready to compete again.”
ALEX LAUGHLIN, GAS MONKEY RACING, GAS MONKEY GARAGE/360 WRAPS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier; fell in first round): “We had a strong car and were looking forward to repeating our win from 2016 at Gateway Motorsports Park. But we just didn’t have it on race day. We’re looking forward to going home to race in Dallas in two weeks. It’s a place where we’re always fast, and I was runner-up to Drew Skillman there last year. We’ll see what happens.”
ERICA ENDERS, MELLING PERFORMANCE/ ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier; fell in quarterfinals): “Part of (moving up in points) is knocking off the drivers ahead of us in the points so I say line ’em up and let’s go. We’ve worked our way to the top of the mountain twice before so we know what it takes. The plan is to keep chasing it until it’s over. It’s been a struggle for about 10 races now, really ever since we won that race up there in Epping. We continue to work on it. We’ve made about 125 test runs since Indy just trying to figure it out so it’s not for a lack of effort or check writing for that matter.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 12 qualifier; fell in first round): “That wasn’t what we had in mind. We were trying to pull data off of Q4 last night where we made a better run and just amp it up a bit from that. We really felt like to be competitive today we would have to run a .54 or .55 minimum. There’s no question we’ve got better elapsed times and speeds in the set up but it’s just not in the cards right now. We’ll lick our wounds again here in Race 3 of the Countdown and put our focus toward Dallas in two weeks. Fortunately, we have a week off in between and I know the car’s going to go back to Rick Jones Race Cars and they’re going to do some modifications to the car that we feel should help.”
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 5 qualifier; fell in quarterfinals on holeshot): “Man, that was a tough loss right there. I got distracted when he flickered the bulb and then I was just plain late. I can do better than that but I guess that will just fuel me to get better in Dallas.”