Chevrolet Drivers Post Strong Start in Qualifying for Season-Opening Race

SATURDAY, FEB. 10, 2018

Chevrolet Drivers Post Strong Start in Qualifying for Season-Opening Race

• Brittany Force begins defense of Top Fuel title from No. 2 position
• Reigning Funny Car champion Robert Hight secures No. 2 spot
• Vincent Nobile extends Chevrolet’s Pro Stock streak of No. 1 qualifiers

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2018) – Chevrolet drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock competition made strong statements in qualifications for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by

Vincent Nobile, driving his new Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS, continued the Bowtie Brand’s stranglehold on the Pro Stock pole with a best pass of 6.529 seconds at 210.41 mph through four rounds of qualifying at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. Chevrolet earned every No. 1 Pro Stock qualifier honor in 2017 during the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, driving the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, held the top spot with a run of 3.675 seconds at 322.04 mph until the final round, when Clay Millican stole the No. 1 position with a national-record elapsed time of 3.628 seconds.

Similarly, reigning Funny Car champion Robert Hight held the provisional pole with a run of 3.850 seconds at 334.24 mph in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS until the final pairing. Matt Hagan secured the No. 1 spot with a pass of 3.822 seconds that tied his 2017 track record at a track-record 336.32 mph.

Courtney Force, who recorded seven No. 1 qualifier honors last year on the way to a career-best third place in the Funny Car standings, earned the No. 4 spot in her new Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS with a best pass of 3.877 seconds at 321.12 mph. John Force, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car title-holder, secured the No. 10 position in qualifying in the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS.

FS1 will telecast eliminations and finals live at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.

BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (No. 2 qualifier; reigning Top Fuel champion): “I’ve got a great team around me; a great support system. The season starts here in Pomona tomorrow. So we want that first win of the season. No better place to do it than where we accomplished so much last year, where we became the champions and won the final race of the season. We’d like to start the season off right. We were all right qualifying, we only got down there once, but we’ll take it. It’s a new day tomorrow, we’re hoping to go straight down there and turn on some win lights.”

ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; reigning Funny Car champion): “(About his final run) When you look at the time slip, it was a little slow early. Had we run early numbers like we did earlier today, it would have been a lot better. But we’re still in good position. Heck of a lot better than we were three months ago when we here when we ended the last run in 15th spot. Tomorrow I’m not nervous. I know my team has a good handle on this thing.”

COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier): “I feel good. We’re in the top half of the ladder and on opposite sides from my teammates. Running that .87 makes us feel a little more confident. I have confidence in these crew chiefs and this team that we we’re gonna get it fixed up tomorrow. It’s going to be a good first round against Jonnie Lindberg but we’re ready to go. This is the first race of the 2018 season and we’re looking forward to it. I think we’ve got a really good hot rod with this Advance Auto Parts team. We’re going to push it hard tomorrow and we’re ready for race day.”

JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 10 qualifier): “(About the explosion the day before, do you feel lucky to be racing on Sunday) “I have only missed one qualifying in my career. That was when we were focused on trying to win the Bud Shootout and were not focused on getting in the race. But we didn’t get either one. But the point is that you learn from your mistakes. This was not a tuning problem, this is what we have had since Phoenix. It’s an assembly problem. But we found it, and we are going to address it. That is all you can do. Now for what I went through last night … it really got my head back in the game. I come out here with so much stress over sponsors, hospitality, getting everybody’s logos right, making everybody happy and you don’t think about your car. I was so stressed and when they put me in that ambulance, it was the first time in probably weeks, that I didn’t feel any stress. You know why? Because you forgot why you came. You have to do all the other work, but you shouldn’t let it eat you alive. So I am content, my car went down the racetrack, it’s fast, and my motor is right. I couldn’t quite get there, but I am in the show and I got some great TV for PEAK and Chevrolet. I will take it any way I can get it. But I am happy because Courtney (Force) is fast, Robert (Hight) is fast, and Brittany (Force) was second in Top Fuel. We all want to be No. 1 but we can’t.”

VINCENT NOBILE, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier for eighth time in 165 career Pro Stock races and second at this event; first pole since 2016 at Reading): “What’s bad about being No. 1? You try your best to qualify No. 1 at every race. At the end of the day it’s about holding up the trophy at the end of the weekend, I don’t care if you qualify No. 1 or No. 16 as long as you bring home the hardware. Am I surprised? Not really, just because we ran well Friday, and testing went really well. All in all, it’s a great start and I am happy to be back out here and looking forward to tomorrow. I’m definitely on top of the world. I have a great car and a great group of people behind me.”

DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier): “We decided to try something on this Q4 just to see what would happen. It wasn’t the right direction. We have a great hot rod for tomorrow and we know what we are going to do. So, right now, we have one car that is a little bit faster than us, and they made a hell of a hit. We made four decent hits, so I think we have a great chance to win tomorrow. We have great horsepower, a great team, and we will be ready to go tomorrow.”

GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; 2017 winner of event): “I think we are about ready. We kind of inched up on it through qualifying. We were a little bit soft yesterday, and maybe a little bit soft this morning but we finally figured out what the race track had to give us. The racetrack is great. The bottom line is that we just underestimated it on the first three qualifying runs and finally got it right in the final round. We made a real nice one on the last run, so I think we are going to be ready. I think we are going to get a little bit warmer weather tomorrow but it’s going to be a great race track and it’s going to be similar to what it was today. I think we have a great set up for it.”

JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier; 2017 runner-up at event): “A lot happier than I was a couple hours ago. Much better but we still have a ways to go and we are a little off. So we have some work to do. But all in all we are headed in the right direction, so that is important going into race day. To win all of them you have to win the first one. We have some work to do but we are headed in the right direction.”

BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 6 qualifier; reigning Pro Stock champion): “Well, the battle begins. We had some issues and changed the bullet last night. It’s a brand new engine and has never sat in a car before but it looks really good. We were 1-2-3 for the session, which is back like it used to be. So I am very happy and we should go some rounds tomorrow.”

ERICA ENDERS, MCLEOAD CLUTCHES ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier): “We are still optimistic coming off a great test session in Phoenix. I don’t think we have shown our hand by any means. Our teammate, Vincent Nobile, is on the pole and he ran a really stout 6.52 (seconds), so that shows that we have great horsepower at Elite Motorsports and Elite Performance. Mine and Jeg’s (Coughlin) cars just haven’t made a great run yet. So that is encouraging because if we put up the numbers that we did with as poorly as we have been running, that is encouraging. Tomorrow is a new day and it’s unfortunate that we have to run against each other first round. I guess if you pick the positives out of everything … at least one of use is moving on to the second round. We will do our best tomorrow and I am very optimistic. I want to reiterate that because qualifying seventh and tenth by no means shows what is going on here.”

DERIC KRAMER, KB RACING, AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier): “I’m getting more comfortable in my American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro. The car was built for me, and it just fits. That was the 11th run on the car for me, and with every pass I get a little more comfortable. I’m feeling real well right now. This is only our second time in the top half of the field, and I think this is probably the first time we’ve earned it. This is exciting. This is why we’re out here. We came out here hoping for a shot to win, and now I think we have one.”

JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 10 qualifier): “We’re definitely inside the window of performance between our two cars where it could very well come down to how well we execute in the cockpit. I expect we’ll both be .020 or better on the tree (in reaction times) and then it’ll come down to the car, the balance and the way we take them down the track to figure out who wins. For sure, one of us is going to Round 2. Obviously, we’d like for it to be us. We’ll turn over every rock to try and figure out why we’re outside the box we were in when we tested last week and try to get the car back to that level of performance or better.”

TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 11 qualifier): (About beginning his second season of Pro Stock) “I’ve raced all the drivers out here, and I know what to expect from all of them, and so really what it’s going to come down to is letting the clutch pedal out, and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on that. I feel like I’ve maintained my performance.”