CHEVROLET AT ATLANTA
38th NHRA Southern Nationals powered by Mello Yello
Friday, May 4-Sunday, May 6
Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia
FS1: Eliminations and finals taped – 6 p.m. ET Sunday
Chevrolet Takes Momentum Down I-85 to Atlanta Dragway
John Force’s runner-up Funny Car finish in four-wide could be turning point
DETROIT (May 2, 2018) – In 741 career National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car races spanning 42 years, John Force has experienced multiple high points, including 16 driver championships and 148 victories.
There have been numerous lows, too, including bodily injury, frustrating losses by inches, and failure to qualify for races. Pinnacles and pits are inherent to the sport, and the outspoken veteran racer has both clawed his way to the top and out of depths several times during his illustrious career.
The latter has been the overriding scenario this season for Force and the crew of the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS. The winningest driver in NHRA history has dealt with multiple engine explosions, precautionary trips to the hospital, watching daughter Brittany Force’s Top Fuel crash, and failing to qualify for the first time in 10 years.
Finally, heading into the NHRA Southern Nationals powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway – the seventh of 24 races – Force is encouraged by a runner-up finish April 29 at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. It could be the pivot needed between baffling and rebuilding.
“What I went through in the first four or five races nobody should have to go through,” said Force, a seven-time winner at Atlanta Dragway. “I have never seen that much carnage. We are digging our way through it. They always say if it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger. Well it didn’t kill me, and I am a lot tougher. I really do love the fact that I will never take qualifying for granted again and I will never take getting to a final for granted again.”
Force, the No. 8 qualifier in the four-wide competition at zMAX Dragway, advanced to the final round for the first time this season. The car, he said, “is starting to come around.”
“We are getting a tune up on this PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro and that means (crew chiefs Brian) Corradi, (Dan) Hood and (Jimmy) Prock can focus 100 percent on their own cars. Now that my Camaro is going to the other end, we can tune it,” Force said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Courtney Force, who also reached the final Funny Car quad, is making waves early in the season with a victory at Phoenix and three No. 1 qualifiers. She has been the low qualifier or second in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS the past five races and is second in points.
“I feel like we have some real momentum right now,” said Force, who will be competing in her 150th Funny Car race. “We have a good hotrod and if I can continue to keep getting better as a driver we’ll continue to improve. We aren’t going to give up. Every race is a learning process and that process will continue this weekend in Atlanta.”
Also regaining confidence and momentum is Brittany Force, who was the No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier at the Charlotte four-wide and recorded her first victory of the season a week earlier at Houston in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster.
At zMAX Dragway, Erica Enders became the sixth different Chevrolet winner in as many Pro Stock races and the third in a row aligned with Elite Motorsports. Enders, driving the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS, earned her 23rd career Pro Stock victory and first since June 2017.
Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, the 2016 Stock Eliminator champion in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, leads the 50-entry Stock Eliminator field. Also competing in their COPO Camaros will be Richard Bierie of Acworth, Georgia; Jeff Taylor of Sellersburg, Indiana; Darren Poole-Adams of Shelby, North Carolina; Cody Phillips of Lumberton, North Carolina; Chip Johnson of Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Marion Stephenson of Williamsport, Indiana.
Brandon Bakies of Alexandria, Louisiana, driving his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, is among the 50 entries in Super Stock.