CHEVROLET AT TOPEKA
What: Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties
When: Friday, May 18-Sunday, May 20
Where: Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas
TV: FS1 live eliminations and finals, 2 p.m. ET May 20
Chevrolet Takes Momentum, String of Victories to Topeka
Female racers in Top Fuel, Pro Stock, Funny Car have won past three events
DETROIT (May 16, 2018) – Chevrolet drivers and teams carry confidence and momentum to Topeka, Kansas, this weekend for the eighth race of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Team Chevy accumulated eight victories and nine No. 1 qualifier honors in professional and Sportsman categories in the recent set of three races on consecutive weekends, which included wins by Brittany Force in Top Fuel at Houston, Erica Enders in Pro Stock at the Charlotte four-wide, and Courtney Force in Funny Car at Atlanta.
Courtney Force, driving the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, tops the Funny Car points standings entering the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties. She has been the low qualifier the past two races and four times overall during the season.
“It is still early in the season, but we have the points lead right now,” said Force, who also won at Phoenix. “We want to consistently hold on to that top spot for a while. I am sure it will bounce around because there are so many good teams out here. It feels good because we have a great race car, a great team and we are looking to the end of the season. We are hoping we have the car and the team to get it done and end up with that championship at the end of the season.”
John Force Racing teammate Brittany Force has also been a consistently high qualifier in her Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster. The reigning Top Fuel champion has qualified in the top three the past four races.
In 2016 at Heartland Motorsports Park, the Force sisters were the No. 1 qualifiers in their respective classes. The feat was repeated later that season at Sonoma, California, and last month at zMAX Dragway in North Carolina.
“This Monster Energy team is amazing and I love driving this Top Fuel dragster. We have been No. 1 qualifier with this dragster and I know we can make some awesome runs in Topeka this weekend,” Brittany Force said.
Vincent Nobile sits atop the Pro Stock standings after his victory at Atlanta in the Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS. Nobile is the lone two-time winner – all in a Chevrolet Camaro SS – through seven races.
Chevrolet COPO Camaro drivers have recorded four Stock Eliminator national event wins this season. This weekend, reigning Stock Eliminator champion Justin Lamb of Henderson, Nevada; Ryan Montford of Wichita, Kansas; Tyler Cassil of Benton, Missouri; and Marion Stephenson of Williamsport, Indiana, will drive their Chevrolet COPO Camaros in the Sportsman class.
Cassil will also compete in his COPO Camaro in Super Stock along with Dan Nixon of Hays, Kansas.
FS1 will telecast eliminations and finals live at 2 p.m. ET May 20.
CHEVY RACING ENGINEERING PREVIEW
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVY RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “One-third of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will be complete at the conclusion of the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties and Chevrolet teams and drivers have distinguished themselves through the first seven races. Courtney Force, a two-time Funny Car winner, sits atop the standings of that ultra-competitive class, while Vincent Nobile, the only Pro Stock driver to earn two wins this season, leads that pro category in points. Team Chevy has also posted four Stock Eliminator victories with four different drivers in the Chevrolet COPO Camaro. We’re looking forward to another exciting weekend of racing at Heartland Motorsports Park.”
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (reigning class champion; No. 2 qualifier and winner at Houston; No. 1 qualifier at Charlotte; earned first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at track): “Topeka is always a track we are excited to go to. We have set track records there and Courtney (Force) and I have made a little bit of our own history there. We are excited to get back to Topeka and see what this Monster Energy team can do. We have been running well with this new car and that track is always ready for some fast times.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (reigning class champion; No. 1 qualifier and runner-up at Houston; runner-up in season opener): “It’s always a highlight of my season to go back to Topeka. I’m very confident heading to there. We work together as a team and Courtney (Force) has had great success this year, so there’s no reason why we can’t join her and get some wins. Topeka is a great surface, we’ve won there before, and the fans are great. We’re looking forward to it.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier and winner at Phoenix; No. 1 qualifier and winner at Atlanta; four-time No. 1 qualifier; next round win will be 175th; class points leader): “I have had a lot of success with this Advance Auto Parts team and my Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car. Working with Dan Hood and Brian Corradi has been great this season and we have a consistent race car that is winning rounds. I want to keep up that momentum this weekend in Topeka. I have a lot of great memories from this track. We won the 100th race by a professional female and Brittany and I have been No. 1 qualifier together. I would love to win this race with her this weekend but I know there is a lot of tough competition out there. We will have to be at our best.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT AND MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up at Charlotte four-wide; has 148 career Funny Car wins and 1,291 round wins): “We had to start over with this tune-up. The braintrust got together and we worked as a team like we always do. Have to thank Jimmy Prock, Brian Corradi and Danny Hood for working with Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch. Jon and Jason are sharp guys and we have been getting better the last couple of races. Atlanta was a good event for us even though we didn’t get the win. Courtney put that Advance Auto Parts hot rod in the winner’s circle but we were OK. This racetrack is fast and we have won a lot of races here.”
VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (two-time winner and runner-up at Charlotte four-wide this season; No. 1 qualifier at opener; class points leader): “I’m definitely looking forward to racing at Topeka. Right now, we have the car to beat. My team has done a phenomenal job at keeping this Chevrolet Camaro fast and consistent. I hope we can keep the momentum going.”
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 season opener): “This race means we’re a third of the way through the season, and if I had to give us a grade, I’d put us at like a C. Luckily, we’ve been able to stay up there in the points. It’s a long season, and the most important thing is making it into the Countdown, but we’re still on track. We have to do better, and I think we can do that this weekend. I have not won Topeka, and it’s a cool place, but it’s a tough place to race. We’ll have our work cut out for us, but we go there with the same attitude we always have. We’re going to do the best we can do.”
GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (next final round will be 150th in his 20 seasons competing in Pro Stock; No. 1 qualifier four of past five races): “We had a chance to test before Topeka, and we needed it. We didn’t have the winning formula for Sunday, but we’re getting that figured out. Qualifying is fine, but Sunday has been a big, big challenge for us this year. It’s been a different animal, but we’re doing everything we can to figure it out and have better cars on Sunday.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up in first two races of season; seeking 50th national event win – 47 in Pro Stock, two in Stock Eliminator): “I’m excited to be back in the blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro this weekend. It will be better, and after testing last week, we’re optimistic about this weekend. Anything can happen in Topeka, you just never know. I raced there in the Stocker a lot back in my Sportsman days, so this is a track I enjoy going to.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM/ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (semifinalist and No. 2 qualifier at Houston): “Our car has been very solid since Las Vegas and obviously with Elite Motorsports cars winning the last four races, we know we have what it takes to win. If you want to end the weekend on top in this class, you have to limit your mistakes, saw the Tree down every run, and maybe get a lucky break in there somewhere. We’re ready to take our turn.”
TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE GRAY MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Gainesville; runner-up at Atlanta): “After all the testing we’ve done, I think we’re finally getting the car turned around. We struggled after Gainesville with the car and I made some driving mistakes, but my guys and I got things back on track during Atlanta. We’re all feeling more confident heading into Topeka that our performance will be strong. I’d like to keep the momentum from the last race going and park it in the winner’s circle in Topeka. We won this race last year so I’m hoping we can do it for the second year in a row.”
DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier and finalist at Charlotte four-wide; No. 2 qualifier at Atlanta): “We know we have a car that is fast in qualifying but just have to do a better job on race day to go rounds.”
MATT HARTFORD, HARTFORD RACING, TOTAL SEAL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (won at Houston as No. 11 qualifier for first national event victory; did not compete at Atlanta): “We have toe car to compete; we proved that at Houston. (Competing in limited schedule) It’s a lot of work. Most of us work 50 to 60 hours at real jobs and come out here and spend as many hours as we normally work in a normal work week. It would be different if we were full-time racers and could concentrate on it. However, having jobs we don’t have a lot of time to go test. Testing happens for us at the racetrack during qualifying. We’re going to continue on that pace and I think we’re moving forward. We’ll win a lot of rounds this year.”