34th NHRA Arizona Nationals
Friday, Feb. 23-Sunday, Feb. 25
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park at Chandler, Arizona
FS1: Qualifications live – 7 p.m. ET Friday; taped — 11 p.m. ET Saturday
FS1: Eliminations and finals – 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday

Chevrolet Aims to Sew Up More Victories at Wild Horse Pass
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force is ready to get back to the action

DETROIT (Feb. 21, 2018) – Twelve days after escaping serious injury in a crash at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener, reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force is looking forward to competing in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster this weekend in the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

Force, the No. 2 qualifier in the inaugural event of the 2018 season at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, was competing in the first round of eliminations Feb. 11 when the dragster veered out of control early in the pass, made hard contact with both left and right retaining walls and slid upright through the finish line. She was responsive, speaking with medical personnel, and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Force was released the following day.
“I flew into Phoenix early (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to racetrack to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season. It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

Force was the Top Fuel runner-up in the 2017 event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, and set the track speed record of 330.39 mph. She went on to post another second-place finish and four victories on the way to becoming the first female in 35 years – and the second overall – to claim the Top Fuel championship.

With the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster damaged in its debut event, Force will drive the 2017 championship-winning car at Wild Horse Pass. John Force Racing has begun manufacturing another dragster at its Brownsburg, Indiana, facility for use down the road.

Chevrolet is seeking to successfully defend its Manufacturers’ Cup title for a record-extending 23rd time, while aiming to corral its 14th Pro Stock, seventh Funny Car, and second Top Fuel championships. In 2017, Chevrolet drivers Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) joined Force in earning titles.

Butner, driving the Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS, kicked off the 2018 season with a victory over KB Racing teammate Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the finals at Auto Club Raceway. Butner is unbeaten in his past eight elimination rounds bridging the two seasons.

Hight, driving the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, reset the track Funny Car speed record in claiming a runner-up finish in the opener.

“Without a doubt, we have a lot of confidence going to Phoenix,” said Hight, who will seek to qualify for his 300th Funny Car race in 306 career events. “We have run well there. We were on some good runs when we shut it off in testing. We might even have some new parts on this Auto Club Chevy that I know will make a big difference. I am looking forward to the race. We had a lot of work to do last week. We are going to come out strong this weekend.”

Reigning Stock Eliminator champion Justin Lamb of Hendersonville, Nevada, will drive his new Chevrolet COPO Camaro in the class this weekend. Also among the 65 entries in their Chevrolet COPO Camaros are Al Corda of Elk Mound, Wisconsin, who advanced to the semifinals in the opener at Pomona, California, and Philip Giles of Flatonia, Texas.

Giles also will compete in Super Stock in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro. Ray Martin of Anchorage, Alaska, Byron Setters of Red Deer, Alberta, and Roy Cracraft of Mesa, Arizona, also will drive their COPO Camaros in the 65-car field.

FS1 will telecast qualifications live at 7 p.m. ET Friday and will provide coverage of eliminations and finals at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

ROGER ALLEN, CHEVY RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “It was a successful start of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season for defending champions Chevy Racing, Bo Butner in Pro Stock and Robert Hight in Funny Car. But it also was unsettling with scary separate on-track incidents involving John Force and Brittany Force. Fortunately, they came away uninjured. All their fans and Team Chevy are looking forward to seeing them compete in the NHRA Arizona Nationals.”


ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning class champion; runner-up in season opener; reset Auto Club Raceway speed record in final round): “This is going to be a good year. I am super excited about the way it started. It is just like we picked up right where we left off at the end of last season. I learned some things at the Auto Club Finals. I learned how to relax. I did that at the Winternationals and I drove really well. I like where this is going.”

COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier in event the past three years; competing in 145th Funny Car race): “I feel like testing at Phoenix in the off-season and running 3.83 at Wild Horse Motorsports Park shows that it is a great racetrack. I am excited to get back there and my team has had success there recently. We have qualified well at the Arizona Nationals but we just haven’t had a lot of race day success. We want to turn that around in Phoenix and especially since we had a short race day at the Winternationals. This Advance Auto Parts team is such a strong team the way we started the season isn’t how we want to continue heading into Arizona. We have a lot of data form testing from our Camaro Funny Car as well as our other two JFR Funny Cars, so we will be in a great position to have success. I am looking forward to getting back to the track.”

JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT AND MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (eight-time winner of event; has 148 career Funny Car wins): “We had a rough weekend in Pomona. I am feeling fine from my deal on Friday and the bottom line is you can replace race cars but you can’t replace a serious injury or a teammate. I have to thank Simpson and the Safety Safari. That safety equipment did its job on me and Brittany (Force). I am looking forward to getting back into my race car in Phoenix. I have won a lot of races there. The season is just getting started and there are a lot more races to win. My car is struggling but we are working on a couple things and we found some things out in Pomona that were part of the problem.”

BO BUTNER, KB RACING, JIM BUTNER AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning class champion; earned sixth Pro Stock win and second in a row at Auto Club Raceway in his 66th Pro Stock race in season opener): “How could I not be confident after winning the first race of the year? Everything is going well. My car is fast, and I felt like I drove decent on Sunday in Pomona. My crew was great, and we’ve got (crew chief) Tyler Hogan with us, and he’s just doing a great job. I’ve won Phoenix in Super Stock, and I almost doubled there once. Every run, I feel like I get better. It was good getting back in the seat in Pomona, and I think we’ll be just as good in Phoenix.”

GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (2017 winner of event as No. 2 qualifier; next final round will be 150th of Pro Stock career; competing in 430th Pro Stock event): “We tested there before the Winternationals, made a lot of runs, and learned a lot of things. You’d like to think that would help you. We left the Phoenix test and went to Pomona, and we were able to make some changes to get faster. There is no question that we’ll be good when we get there, but we definitely had our work cut out for us between Pomona and Phoenix. We had some engines to work on, but we did that, and now we’re ready to get back out there and put one of these Summit Racing Chevy Camaros in the winner’s circle. The fear is that you’ll come to the first race, get outrun, and look like dummies – but that didn’t happen. We had a good weekend in Pomona, and we’re planning to build on that this weekend in Phoenix.”

JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up in season opener; No. 1 qualifier in 2017 event; seeking 50th national event win – 47 in Pro Stock, two in Stock): “We had great hot rods in Pomona. Our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros had good smoke, so we just have to find more – like always. It’s a never-ending quest to find power, but that’s why we’re in the racing business and associated with the people we’re associated with. We know what we’re capable of, and this weekend we plan to live up to our own expectations.”

TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier and semifinalist in 2017 event – second race of Pro Stock career; five-time winner in 25 career races): “We’ve been testing in Tucson this week and we’ll bring out the back-up car – the car that I won Vegas with – to race this weekend and take our primary car back home and try to figure out what’s wrong with it. We think it’s something electrical. I feel a lot more confident going back to Phoenix because now I have 25 races under my belt. Last year when I was there I had one. I definitely have a lot more confidence going into it. I was born and raised in New Mexico, so I’m excited to have some people come here and cheer us on.”

ERICA ENDERS, MCLEOAD CLUTCHES ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (fell in semifinals in opener): “Phoenix has always been like a second home track to me. We have a ton of family out there and my sister and I used to race junior dragsters here back when it was still Firebird. We have had success there at every level, including Pro Stock. We won there in 2013 and finished second in 2015. After a decent semifinal finish in Pomona, we are looking for a win this weekend in Phoenix to really kick off 2018.”

VINCENT NOBILE, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, MOUNTAINVIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (in opener, No. 1 qualifier for first time since 2016 season and eighth time in Pro Stock career; competing in 166th Pro Stock event): “Coming to Pomona and qualifying number one was a huge confidence booster for this Mountain View Tire team. Our Camaro is already showing signs of running strong and there is no reason we can’t carry that momentum going into Phoenix. The weather looks like it’s going to be cooler for what Phoenix usually is, so hopefully we see some fast cars and can put our Chevrolet Camaro in the winner’s circle.”

JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (semifinalist in 2017 event; will also drive 2018 Chevrolet Corvette in Top Sportsman class this weekend): “Pomona didn’t go quite the way we were looking for it to go but Phoenix is a new start for us. It looked like our performance was trying to turn the corner there a little bit Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning in Pomona so we are definitely looking forward to this weekend and a chance to pick up the pace of the pack. It was good to have a week and change between these first two events. There’s a lot of emotion that goes into the front of the season, getting things kicked off and started in Pomona for media outlets and obviously getting the cars prepared and on track. Now that’s done we can settle in and really start racing.”

DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier in opener; runner-up in 2017 event): “We had a decent start to the season by qualifying well but didn’t take it to the next level on race day. It was the season opener and a lot of emotion goes into it. It’s good to have a weekend off between the opener and second race of the season to check out the car and gear up for Phoenix.”

DERIC KRAMER, KB RACING, AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (in opener, reached semifinals for first time; competing in 67th Pro Stock event): “We came out here with the intent to justify what we were doing for the past few years, and with the switch to more power and a different manufacturer we thought we were making good decisions and we did that. We definitely have some confidence moving into Phoenix. It’s more runs on the car and getting used to it. Right there, we have 14 runs on the car and we’ll try to keep that momentum.”