CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
ROYAL PURPLE RACEWAY IN BAYTOWN, TEXAS
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2018
Chevrolet Registers Two Wins, Runner-up Finish at Houston
• Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force secures eighth career win
• Matt Hartford claims first career Pro Stock victory in 80th race
• Defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight finishes second
• Greg Anderson resets racetrack Pro Stock elapsed time, speed records
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 22, 2018) – Strong qualifying efforts at Royal Purple Raceway transferred to a stellar race day for Chevrolet teams and drivers in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) SpringNationals.
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, the No. 2 qualifier in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, claimed her eighth career victory in her 125th Top Fuel race with a pass of 3.762 seconds.
Matt Hartford, driving the Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro SS, earned his maiden Pro Stock victory by defeating two-time Pro Stock champion and Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders with a pass of 6.522 seconds at 211.36 mph. Hartford is the seventh driver to claim their first Pro Stock victory at Royal Purple Raceway and the 66th driver to register a Pro Stock win.
Robert Hight, the defending Funny Car champion and No. 1 qualifier for the NHRA SpringNationals in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, was the runner-up for the second time in this young season and second year in a row at Royal Purple Raceway.
Force escaped serious injury in a crash in eliminations at the season opener in February at Pomona, California, and the team debuted a new car for this event. It went to the No. 1 spot on its first qualifying run, and Force settled for the second low qualifier.
“Everything we’ve been through since Pomona … it was not easy getting back in the car, and you dream of this,” said Force, last won at Pomona in November 2017 to wrap up the Top Fuel title. “This is what pushes you, what pushes your team. This is a big win for us because our season has been so up and down. Our wreck in Pomona was tough start, but it’s because of the support system I have around me – our sponsors and my team – that got us here today.”
John Force Racing has garnered Funny Car wins at Royal Purple Raceway by 16-time champion John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Courtney Force, Mike Neff, Tony Pedregon, and Hight. Brittany Force added the first Top Fuel victory to the list and completed the Force family history.
“That is something special. We will all share that. We have all won here. Now this track is really a special place for us,” she said.
Hartford was the 105th driver, and second this season, to reach a Pro Stock final round for the first time. He is the fifth different driver in as many races this season to visit the winner’s stage – all in a Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“It’s been a long journey to get here,” said Hartford, “I’m honored to be here (in first final). I’ve had never beaten Erica, but then again, I never beat (first-round opponent Chris) McGaha, I never beat Tanner (Gray, quarterfinals) and I never beat (semifinalist) Jeg (Coughlin Jr.). I have to say thank you to my crew and all the people who help me and supports me.”
Enders slipped past Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS), who reset the track Pro Stock elapsed time and speed records on the way to earning the No. 1 qualifier honor for the third event in a row, in one semifinal. Hartford got past No. 2 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., a two-time winner at the track and the 2017 race runner-up.
Reigning Pro Stock champion Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS), who won at the racetrack in 2017 for his inaugural class victory, won his first-round matchup. Also winning in the first round were Alex Laughlin (Hot Wheels Car Care Chevrolet Camaro SS), Tanner Gray (Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Rodger Brogdon (RBR Chevrolet Camaro SS).
Brogdon, of Tomball, Texas, making his 135th Pro Stock start and first since Joliet, Illinois, in 2015, was the No. 12 qualifier. Brogdon, the 2011 Pro Stock runner-up at Royal Purple Raceway, was driving a Camaro SS with a KB Racing power plant that carried Butner to several victories in 2017.
Hight had won at Royal Purple Raceway in 2005 and ’14 in addition to his runner-up finish last April. He set low elapsed time (3.878 seconds) and speed (322.42 mph) in the first round of eliminations.
Courtney Force, the No. 2 qualifier in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, lost in the first round. Force, who won at Phoenix this season, has been the Nos. 1 or 2 qualifier in the past four races.
Driving his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, Jeff Lopez of Irving, Texas, the No. 6 qualifier of 50 Stock Eliminator entries, fell in the quarterfinals. J. Allen Sherman of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, driving a COPO Camaro, was the No. 1 qualifier.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues April 27-29 with the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. FS1 will telecast qualifications live at 2:30 p.m. ET April 28. FS1 will telecast taped eliminations and finals at 6 p.m. ET April 29.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVY RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “It was a great day all around for Chevy Racing teams and drivers at Royal Purple Raceway. Congratulations to Brittany Force for her victory in Top Fuel after a rough start to the season. With the low qualifier honor and runner-up finish, Robert Hight showed that he’ll be a formidable competitor again as he seeks to successfully defend his Funny Car title. And the fifth different Team Chevy winner in five Pro Stock races – No. 11 qualifier Matt Hartford – shows the tight competition in that class. Now it’s on to zMAX Dragway and the second four-wide event of the season.”
An interview with Top Fuel winner BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; eighth career victory in 125th Top Fuel race; last win was at Pomona, California, in November 2017 when she wrapped up the Top Fuel title):
YOU REALLY LIKE THAT NEW CAR?
“This is our third car that I’ve run in this season. That’s a lot going on for me as a driver and the whole team. But we seem to like it. We pulled it out this weekend and didn’t test. Testing was qualifying for us. We went No. 1 Friday and went to No. 2 and won the thing, so I think we all like the car. To get this win on race day is huge for all of us.”
IS THIS A DREAM CAR NOW?
“Yes, I think everyone on the team will agree with me that we like this car. The car we opened the season with the guys put a lot of work into and it had a lot of safety equipment from Simpson. We wrecked it in Pomona and had hoped to have it longer than that. Those things happen. I knew one day I was going to wreck. I have been out here for six or seven years. The boys put a safe car around me and I am back to work now.”
WAS IT A TOUGH TRACK TO DRIVE TODAY?
“We kind of struggled a little today. We hurt it a couple of times right at 600 feet on. The tires are spinning and I am driving this Monster Energy car down there just trying to get it to the finish line. I saw our win lights come on and we got that win in the final round. That is the most important one.”
THAT FIRST ROUND A HANDFUL?
“I feel like all the runs were a handful. Once it starts moving around you are just steering that thing hoping to get to the finish line. It has been quite a ride all weekend. Every single run it was moving around a lot. It is a good learning experience.”
EMOTIONAL AT THE TOP END?
“That emotion is built off of the championship. It was built off of Pomona this season. Leaving Pomona last season we were on a huge high. We won the championship and that is something every driver dreams about. We were able to do that and then coming out to the opening race of the season at the same track in Pomona it was the ultimate low. It was really tough in Phoenix getting back in that car. My guys knew it and for me I didn’t care about winning the race. All I cared about was getting back in the car and making runs. Gainesville was game on and Pomona is behind us. This is a huge surprise because looking at last season we got our first win a lot later in the year. This win is big for us. It puts Pomona behind us and it pushes us towards another championship. I feel great now. I am back in the gym but not a 100 percent back.”
YOU REALLY NEEDED A WEEKEND LIKE THIS AFTER WHAT HAPPENED AT POMONA
“This is a big win for us because our season has been so up and down. Our wreck in Pomona was tough start, but it’s because of the support system I have around me – sponsors and my team – that got us here today.”
DESCRIBE THE PROCESS FROM THAT POINT
“Everything we’ve been through since Pomona. It was not easy getting back in the car, and you dream of this. This is what pushes you, what pushes your team. The Monster team has always had my back and I’ve very proud.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FOUR-WIDE AT CHARLOTTE WITH MOMENTUM?
“I thought we were done with four-wides because we just did it in Vegas. We won there years ago and I love that track, and I would love to win there again.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner MATT HARTFORD, HARTFORD RACING, TOTAL SEAL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 11 qualifier; first career Pro Stock victory in 80th race; 66th different driver to win Pro Stock event and seventh to earn maiden Pro Stock win at Royal Purple Raceway):
WHAT ARE YOU THINKING RIGHT NOW?
“I’m honored to be here (in first final). I’ve had never beaten Erica, but then again I never beat (first-round opponent Chris) McGaha, I never beat Tanner (Gray, quarterfinals) and I never beat (semifinalist) Jeg (Coughlin Jr.). I have to say thank you to my crew and all the people who help me and supports me.”
DESSCRIBE WHAT REPRESENTS THIS MOMENT
“First thing I have to say is thanks to (Elite Motorsports owner) Richard Freeman. He called me and all but begged me to come out and race this year. He wants to save the class; we all want to save the class. This win is a dream come true. Everybody who is involved with this car, I can’t be here without them. They always say to be the best you have to beat the best, and that’s what I did today.”
YOUR’RE THE 66TH DIFFERENT PRO STOCK WINNER OF THOUSANDS OF PRO STOCK RACERS OVER THE YEARS
“Man, it’s been a long time coming. I started in Pro Stock in 2006 and it’s 2018. I’ve let the clutch out a few times and I’ve lost way more than I’ve ever won. To beat (Chris) McGaha started our weekend off on a positive note. We struggled in qualifying; we qualified 11th when we should have qualified third or fourth. But the best air was Friday night and we completely missed the set-up. We had to work our way through. We earned this.”
WHAT KEEPS A GUY LIKE YOU MOTIVATED BY SUCCESS COMING BACK FOR 12 YEARS?
“There’s just a stupid needle in my arm that I try to pull out called Pro Stock. Every time I think I’m going to get away from this and over the winter I said I was done. I’m not coming back. Richard Freeman called and said you’ll have good power, and the joke in our pits is I have his fifth-best motor. Well, his fifth-best motor is as good as his best motor. When you have horsepower, this is fun. When you struggle like I have for so many years, the fun starts going away.”