Chevy Racing–NHRA–ZMAX Dragway Wrapup

SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2018

Chevrolet Races to Pro Stock, Sportsman victories in Charlotte

• Erica Enders is sixth Chevy Racing Pro Stock winner in as many races
• John Force grabs runner-up spot in Funny Car; Courtney Force is fourth
• Thomas Fletcher wins Stock Eliminator in Chevrolet COPO Camaro
• Arthur Kohn drives Chevrolet COPO Camaro to SAM Tech Showdown win

CONCORD, North Carolina (April 29, 2018) – After a runner-up finish April 22 at Houston, two-time National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock champion Erica Enders emphatically declared “they know we’re back.”

Everyone noticed on race day of the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Enders, the No. 8 qualifier driving the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS, earned her first victory since June 2017 at Epping, New Hampshire, and her 23rd in Pro Stock competition with a pass of 6.535 seconds at 212.73 mph in the final quad.

“It’s been a hard mountain to climb. It goes to show that hard work pays off and strong people survive. That is what I have here is a really strong core group of people,” Enders said.

Enders is the sixth different Chevrolet Pro Stock winner in as many races as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series hit the quarter pole of the season.

In the Funny Car final, John Force’s runner-up finish was a booster shot for the 16-time NHRA champion and the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team after a rough and tumble start to the season. Daughter, teammate and No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force (Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS) finished fourth in the final quad.

“When you go through what we’ve gone through and then not qualify last week, it really hurts,” John Force said. “The race car is starting to come back. We don’t even have a tune-up in it yet because it’s dropping cylinders every run, but it ain’t blowing up. I’ve got one in a row. It ain’t over yet.”

Reigning Funny Car champion Robert Hight, who was the No. 7 qualifier in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, finished third in the second round. The top two in each quad advanced to the next round.

Brittany Force, the No. 1 qualifier in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster with a Top Fuel track-record pass of 3.689 seconds, finished third in the first-round quad. Force won a week earlier at Houston.

Enders recorded the low elapsed time of the Pro Stock event (6.500 seconds) in the first round and followed with a 6.517-second pass in the semifinals. Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS), winner of the Las Vegas four-wide event earlier this month; Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS), winner of the 2017 Four-Wide Nationals and the winner at Phoenix this season; and No. 1 qualifier Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro SS) couldn’t take down Enders in the final.

“Knowing we have a fast car was great. It’s the first time we’ve had a fast, consistent race car in a long time,” Enders added.
Second-round qualifiers included reigning class champion Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS), Tanner Gray (Gray Motorsports/Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS), Jeg Coughlin Jr. ( Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Alex Laughlin (Tige Boats Chevrolet Camaro SS).

In an all-Chevrolet COPO Camaro final of the School of Automotive Technology (SAM Tech) NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, Arthur Kohn of Richmond, Texas, held off David Barton of Robesonia, Pennsylvania, for his maiden victory in the series.

Barton, the No. 2 qualifier and defending champion of the series that features seven events in 2018, defeated Randy Taylor of Artesia, New Mexico, driving a COPO Camaro, in one semifinal. Stephen Bell of Shreveport, Louisiana, winner of the initial race of the seven-event series in March at Gainesville, Florida, fell in the second round.

In Stock Eliminator, Thomas Fletcher of Churchville, New York, won in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro. He was the No. 42 qualifier of 54 entries.
Jeff Strickland, the 2016 Stock Eliminator champion from Red Bay, Alabama, lost in the quarterfinals of Super Stock. Strickland was the No. 8 qualifier of 63 entries in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues May 4-6 with the NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. FS1 will telecast qualifications live at 7:30 p.m. ET May 4 and will telecast taped eliminations and finals at 6 p.m. ET May 6.

ROGER ALLEN, CHEVY RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to Erica Enders for her victory in a highly-competitive all-Chevrolet four-wide Pro Stock final and throughout the day. Also, congratulations to John Force, whose runner-up finish in the Funny Car four-wide final is a shot in the arm after what the team has endured early this season. Courtney Force was the No. 1 qualifier and advanced to the Funny Car finals, and Brittany Force followed up her Houston win with a No. 1 qualifier spot in Top Fuel. All in all, a superlative weekend for Chevy Racing.”

An interview with Pro Stock winner ERICA ENDERS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, MELLING PERFORMANCVE/ELITE MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier; 23rd career Pro Stock victory; last win was Epping, New Hampshire, in June 2017; competing in 252nd Pro Stock race; won with 6.535-second run with .014-second light; posted low ET of event at 6.500 seconds; sixth different Chevrolet Pro Stock winner in six races):

“I am not shy to compliment my guys and in my opinion, I have the baddest group of men in all of motorsports. I am really lucky to be their driver. Rick and Ricky Jones are my crew chiefs and they build our race cars and more importantly than that, they are the best people on the planet. We made a car change going into our home race in Houston, Texas last week. Jeg Coughlin and myself. That was the change unfortunately we were needing to have some on-track success. We went to the finals in Houston like Jenn said, and we hurt a motor in the finals against Matt Hartford who was an engine customer of ours last week. We came into this race, and I have runnered-up a couple of times, I have never won, so this is significant and special for me. So, I am very excited.”

“Okay, funny story. In 2012 we were here and had a win light malfunction and Greg Anderson was in my quad. My win light came on and so we got to the end of the track and I pulled off the track and all the TV cameras and photographers were there, and I pull over to them and they were like banging on my car and taking pictures. I was like, ‘oh my god, this is my first win in Pro Stock, first female ever’. So, I put my head down to take my HANS off and I looked back up and its ghost town, they are all gone. They had gotten the word that the win light didn’t actually go to our team, it went to Greg Anderson’s team. It was very obvious according to the footage. It was kind of like one of those bad Ashton Kuecher videos where you just got punked. It was like, psyche. But we went on and won our first race later on that year in Chicago. To be able to come back full circle and finally win the Four-Wide six years later…that’s a long time, but we are very excited.”

“Well, Four-Wide is a very unique format and it adds a lot of extra distractions. You know, it’s hard enough with one other competitor in Pro Stock because they are notorious for having starting line battles up there. The trend has been that everyone gets in a huge hurry to stage up there. It’s kind of one of those deals where you have to have your mind right and you have your heart rate under control because it can kind of get way out of whack up there. It certainly ranks high because it’s a first for us and it’s exciting. We have had a lot of success but it’s been a long time since we have had some success. So, this is hopefully what will be the start for what will be a tremendous year.”