CHEVROLET AT POMONA
What: Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com
When: Friday, Feb. 8-Sunday, Feb. 10
Where: Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California
TV: FS1 live eliminations and finals, 5 p.m. ET February 10
Chevy Racing starts NHRA season with high expectations
Teams, drivers look to carry momentum from successful 2018 campaign
DETROIT (Feb. 7, 2019) – Eighty-eight days after Chevrolet Racing teams closed out the 2018 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) season at Auto Club Raceway, they return this weekend to the facility in Pomona, California, with refreshed and renewed aspirations for another successful campaign.
Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock pro categories, in addition to Sportsman competitors driving the Chevrolet COPO Camaro, last year contributed to Chevrolet’s NHRA record-extending 23rd NHRA Manufacturers Cup with a total of 42 national event victories.
“Team Chevy was able to earn its fourth Manufacturers Cup in the past five years and 23rd overall on the strength of the skills, dedication and perseverance of its drivers and teams,” Chevy Racing NHRA program manager Roger Allen said. “With an experienced and stout lineup in all categories this year, we are looking forward to more success on the racetrack.”
The John Force Racing contingent again will be title contenders in Top Fuel and Funny Car, though the team will be without Courtney Force, a four-time winner and 11-time low qualifier in 2018. She announced last month that she was stepping away from Funny Car competition.
Two-time Funny Car champion Robert Hight (Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS), the class runner-up in ’18, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force (PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS) and 2017 Top Fuel title winner Brittany Force (Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet dragster) will look to add to the team’s legacy.
All enjoyed positive test sessions last week in suburban Phoenix that set the stage for early season success. At Pomona, they will be joined by Austin Prock (Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist sponsors), who will make his professional debut in a Chevrolet dragster tuned by Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson. Prock, the son of Hight’s crew chief, Jimmy Prock, earned his Top Fuel license in testing last week.
Team personnel changes also were made in race car preparation, with Brian Corradi moving from Courtney Force’s car to John Force’s Funny Car program as crew chief and co-crew chiefs David Grubnic and Mac Savage joining Brittany Force’s unit.
Chevrolet engineers are working with John Force Racing to integrate aerodynamic improvements to the Camaro bodywork, which has updated graphics to more closely resemble the production car.
“We’re feeling really good after four days of testing,” said Hight, the team president. “We’re carrying over our momentum from last year. I’m excited to head to Pomona and get the 2019 season started.”
There were also changes in the Pro Stock division as the NHRA reduced the event calendar six to 18, and 2018 class champion Tanner Gray (Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS) moved on to circle track racing.
Gray’s crew chief Dave Connolly moved to work alongside KB Racing’s Rob Downing on the championship-winning cars of Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS), Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS), Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS), Deric Kramer (American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Fernando Cuadra (Corral Chevrolet Camaro SS).
“It’s been a busy winter. We’ve worked on a lot of things and have a lot of projects in the works that will come to fulfillment throughout the season,” said Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion who needs one round win to become the fourth driver in NHRA history with 800. “But over the winter, we did a lot of development work and put in a lot of effort. It’s hard to say how everything is going to shake out, though. You really don’t know until you roll into Pomona. Even pre-season testing doesn’t seem to answer these things; you have to get to that first race to know who did the best job.”
With the resurgence in 2018 of five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. (JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS), the class runner-up last season, and two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders (Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS) the Elite Motorsports team will be formidable.
Chevrolet is marking the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the COPO Camaro. Entered in their Chevrolet COPO Camaros this weekend in Stock Eliminator are Jeff Taylor of Sellersburg, Indiana; Dan Fletcher of Churchville, New York; Al Corda of Elk Mound, Wisconsin; and Tim Seymour of San Dimas, California.
Driving their COPO Camaros in Super Stock will be Ryan Priddy of Chino, California; Tom Ferruggia of Menifee, California; and Lane Goldstein of Calabasas, California.
The expansive Chevrolet Performance display in the paddock will feature a variety of Chevrolet production vehicles as well as Chevrolet accessories and engines.
FS1 will telecast live eliminations and finals February 10 starting at 5 p.m. ET.
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (2017 class champion; set class track speed record at November 2018 event): “Testing went well for us. It was good to get out to a racetrack and get to be with my new team and get to know my new car. We got the information we were looking for and (crew chief David) Grubnic seemed happy with our test week. I’m looking forward to getting out to Pomona, it’s the first race of the season, it’s a home race and it will be exciting to show off this new Advance Auto Parts dragster to all the fans.”
AUSTIN PROCK, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONTANA BRAND/ROCKY MOUNTAIN TWIST CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (Making his professional debut this weekend): “I’m excited to head out to Pomona for my first national event. This is what I’ve been working toward for years now. I know it took a lot of hard work from everyone at John Force Racing to be able to make this happen. I’m proud to be able to race for Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist and John Force Racing and I can’t wait to go rounds and ultimately get in the winner’s circle.
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (2017 class champion; runner-up in 2018; holds track Funny Car speed record, set in 2018 winter event): “We controlled our destiny last year. We just didn’t get it done. We had a great season and won races, but we wanted another championship. I think we defended our championship well. We were right where we wanted to be, in contention for another championship. Being in the fight for a title through the last day of the season is exactly the kind of season you want to have. We’re already working on doing the same in 2019.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, CHEVROLET ACCESSORIES PEAK CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (has 149 class victories, including seven in the winter race at the track): “It’s always exciting for me and the JFR team to kick off the season at Pomona. It’s a home race for us and there’s nothing like being able to do what we do in front of family and friends. The 2018 season was tough. We didn’t end the season how we planned but we’ve made some adjustments with both the car and my team. It will feel good to get back behind the wheel and see what it can do.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM/ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (five-time class champion; runner-up in 2018 points): “I feel as though we’re the best-prepared we have been for the start of a new year. We had a top-running car at the end of last season and basically the team just made a bunch of enhancements on what we were doing then. Now it’s time to see where we stack up. I’m excited for the season and anxious to see if we can capitalize on the huge momentum we built in last year’s Countdown.”
GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (four-time class champion; with one elimination round win, will become fourth driver in all pro classes with 800): “I had a subpar year last year, and you take that personally “I’m not ready to fold up my tent. I can still win races and championships, I know I can, I just have to find the right formula and get back to driving the racecar the way I used to. Age is not my problem. I have to stop worrying about the little things and go have fun.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (runner-up in 2018 season opener at track; has 99 Pro Stock final-round appearances): “No pressure, but if you want to win them all, you have to win the first one. Every race is important, and you’d like to start off well, so it matters for sure. I’m looking forward to being better. We see the opportunities to do things differently in the shop as a positive for us. We’re going to get better as the year goes, for sure. The Countdown format changes things a little, but this first race still matters. We still want to go win every race for Summit.”
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (two-time winner in 2018; will compete in 141st career race): “We were extremely busy this offseason. We decided to invest last August in our overall racing program by adding Gary Hettler and his cylinder head program to our performance shop. This new addition, alongside our current engine R&D program, made for a very productive offseason. We spent the last couple of days testing in Phoenix. I am very happy with the progress that we have made from our offseason efforts and looking forward to showcasing them on the track. I am optimistic and think we made the right calls to change our track performance around.”
SHANE TUCKER, ROB TUCKER RACING, AUZMET ARCHITECTURAL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (making his first visit to Pomona since 2014): “We had a lot of success in Australia and now we want to start building our racing resume in the U.S. We have raced a few races over the past few years but this year the goal is to race the full season and make a run at the Countdown. We are excited to finally be able to focus a little more on racing and working with Nick Ferri Racing shows how serious we are. Nick has done amazing things with previous world champions and we have that same kind of championship attitude here at Rob Tucker Racing.”