CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS
GAINESVILLE RACEWAY AT GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 2018
Chevrolet strikes green and gold on St. Patrick’s Day qualifications
• Greg Anderson records fifth Gatornationals pole, 94th of Pro Stock career
• Courtney Force follows up No. 1 spot at Phoenix with No. 2 in Funny Car
• Robert Hight posts top speed of qualifying in claiming No. 3 Funny Car spot
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 17, 2018) – Greg Anderson says he “felt bad not wearing anything green” in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day during qualifications for the 49th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at sold-out Gainesville Raceway.
He rectified that later in the day by donning the green ballcap signifying the No. 1 Pro Stock qualifier.
“I have the right green on,” said Anderson, driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS. “We got it done.”
It was the fifth No. 1 qualifier honor in the Gatornationals and 94th of his 20-year career, which is fourth all time among Pro Stock, Funny Car and Top Fuel drivers.
Courtney Force followed up her No. 1 Funny Car qualifying position at Phoenix, which she transferred into a victory in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, with the No. 2 position with a run of 3.914 seconds at 327.66 mph. John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight, the reigning Funny Car champion in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, qualified No. 3 at 3.917. He posted the top speed of qualifying at 333.66 mph.
John Force, who has won the Gatornationals eight times including 2017, qualified 15th in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS. Brittany Force, who registered her maiden Top Fuel victory in 2016 at Gainesville Raceway and is the defending Top Fuel champion, qualified 13th in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster.
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion, is seeking to reach his 150th career final round. He has advanced to seven Gatornationals finals, winning four times.
“I’m just happy with the car this weekend. It’s made four really close to perfect runs, so you can’t ask for anything more than that,” added Anderson, whose 6.522-second pass in the first qualifying round stood up to all challenges.
Alex Laughlin (Hot Wheels Car Care Chevrolet Camaro SS) was the No. 2 qualifier, while Phoenix winner Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS) was third and four-time Gatornationals winner Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) checked in fourth.
Competitors driving the Chevrolet COPO Camaro claimed eight of the top 10 spots in qualifications for the SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown. David Barton of Robesonia, Pennsylvania, topped the field with passes of 8.020 seconds and 171.36 mph.
Barton won the event last year at Gainesville Raceway on the way to the series title. Peter Gasko Jr. of Monroe Township, New Jersey, was second through the three rounds of qualifying at 8.045 seconds.
FS1 will telecast eliminations at 7 p.m. ET Sunday.
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (No. 13 qualifier; reigning class champion; earned inaugural Top Fuel victory at track in 2016): “At this point, our biggest concern is just getting down the racetrack. We have had four qualifying passes and we didn’t get down there once. I don’t remember the last time we have been in this position. We are going to focus on going out tomorrow and going rounds. That will just prove how strong this team is.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; No. 1 qualifier and winner at Phoenix): “Our Advance Auto Parts team has put down some great passes this weekend. Our Q2 pass put us in the No. 2 spot. In Q1, we were going down there pretty good until it dropped a couple holes. It is a process and we learn from these things. Today we changed a few things to try and learn some stuff to see if we could figure out the common problem with these cars to help my dad out. I really just don’t want him to have any more car problems. It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round. Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win. We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; reigning class champion; runner-up in season opener; holds both ends of Funny Car track record, set in 2017; three-time winner of event): “We got everything done today we wanted to. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) is getting a handle on this hot racetrack. We will be ready tomorrow in this Auto Club Camaro. I have Dave Richards (in first round) and trust me you can’t take anyone for granted on this class. Top to bottom, every driver can go rounds. We will be focused, and I have a ton of confidence in all my crew guys.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT AND MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 15 qualifier; eight-time winner of event, including 2017; has 148 career Funny Car wins): “I am banking on the experience of the people around me. I am the kind of guy that when it is qualifying day I run it to the edge. I run it even if I know it will hurt itself. I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say ‘I have to win this race or I have to qualify low’ after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. Austin Coil called me last night and said the problem is right in front of you. We want to fix this problem and move on.”
ALEX LAUGHLIN, GAS MONKEY RACING, HOT WHEELS CAR CARE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; No. 3 qualifier and semifinalist at Phoenix): “We’ve had a pretty breakout year so far. The last race we were No. 3 and Pomona we were No. 5. We’ve been qualifying really well and the car has been really good. It’s cool to be able to get the (bonus) points throughout the year, especially because I’m running a full season.”
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; had top speed of qualifying; Phoenix winner as No. 7 qualifier; competing in 120th Pro Stock event): “We made what we feel like was our best run in Q4 when conditions were at their worst. In the heat, we were happiest with it. If you can get in the later rounds tomorrow, that’s what it likely will be like, so maybe we can bring something for them tomorrow.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier; runner-up in first two races of season; seeking 50th national event win – 47 in Pro Stock, two in Stock Eliminator; four-time winner of event): “We left ourselves some room for improvement today, for sure. We have a good hot rod; we just have to make better decisions with it. We’ll have a good car for tomorrow and hopefully we’ll go four rounds and get that Wally. I’m tired of everybody else winning.”
BO BUTNER, KB RACING, JIM BUTNER AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 5 qualifier; reigning class champion; won season opener): “We’ve had a great Gainesville. It’s been beautiful weather and the place is packed. The fans are great. We’ve run better almost every qualifying and have a great race day set-up.”
DERIC KRAMER, KB RACING, AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 6 qualifier; earned first No. 1 qualifier honor at Phoenix; semifinalist in both races to start season): “We think we have a good set-up for race day from that Q4 session. I think we’ll be ready for tomorrow. Tons of people, lots of people, and it’s definitely better than being in Colorado this weekend.”
VINCENT NOBILE, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, MOUNTAINVIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier; No. 1 qualifier in season opener): “We made four good runs. I’m confident in the car and confident in the team. Testing went well down in Bradenton (Florida) that correlated when we came to Gainesville, and we’re just looking forward to getting some round wins. I personally have always wanted to win the Gatornationals. I haven’t had much luck racing here, but hopefully my bad luck last race in Phoenix got all of that out of the way and I can get a little good luck here.”
DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier; No. 2 qualifier in season opener): “Eighth is definitely not the position we want to start in. We unfortunately broke a motor after Q3 and put another motor in for Q4 and probably missed the tune-up a hair. We have a good car for Sunday.”
ERICA ENDERS, MCLEOAD CLUTCHES ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 9 qualifier; No. 2 qualifier at Phoenix; holds track Pro Stock speed record, set in 2014): “Clearly, we struggled through qualifying. But as veterans we know race day is a different story. Anything can happen, and anybody can win. Gainesville is notorious for being a tricky track, especially when it gets hot. Tomorrow will be the most challenging day of all, and always y money is on us.”
TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 11 qualifier; five-time winner in 26 career races): “I’m hitting the tree well. Hopefully we can make a little bit better run with the car and get at least a couple hundredths of Deric Kramer and see if we can’t pull something off. We’re struggling with the car right now and we’re making a lot of changes. I think everybody struggled with the track that run. It’ll be tough tomorrow but I think the boys can get it done.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 12 qualifier; two-time winner and four-time runner-up in event): “As we look back at the last four runs, quite honestly, the team had done some pretty extensive testing coming in and were really pleased with the car. That starts your confidence level right off and gets everybody fired up for the weekend, and then we just struggled. We struggled getting the car down either one of the lanes the first three sessions. We have a championship-caliber team here. We have a race-winning car and race-winning team. Our last run was a nice run, and that gives us a baseline for game day. We will build off it for E1 tomorrow.”
JOHN GAYDOSH JR., GAYDOSH PERFORMANCE, PYPES PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 14 qualifier; making season debut): “We did a little testing at Bradenton, but we hurt a motor. And that was the last motor I had. I was packing up and going home, but (the Harlow Sammons group) lent us a motor to come here. We’re here and having fun.”