CHEVROLET AT GAINESVILLE
What: 50th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
When: Friday, March 15-Sunday, March 17
Where: Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida
TV: FS1 taped eliminations and finals, 7 p.m. ET March 17
Chevy Racing aims for multiple celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day
Team Chevy enters the 50th anniversary Gatornationals with strong lineup
DETROIT (March 13, 2019) – John Force isn’t of Irish descent, though securing his ninth victory in the 50th anniversary Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on St. Patrick’s would be extra special to 16-time Funny Car champion.
A win March 17 at Gainesville Raceway would mark the 150th of his celebrated career. Force posted five consecutive (1992-96) Funny Car wins in the Gatornationals and six of his eight victories overall in Chevrolet and GM models.
“Gainesville has been very good to me over the years,” said Force, whose most recent win at the track came in 2017. “I’m really looking forward to going to the Gatornationals with PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil, and rockin’ and rollin’.”
Chevrolet drivers have picked up 22 Gatornationals victories in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock in addition to 34 Funny Car and Pro Stock wins in GM models. Bill Jenkins gave Chevrolet its first win at the track and second overall in Pro Stock in the 1970 NHRA season.
Force has had a solid start to the season in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS. He’s tied for sixth in the Funny Car standings through two races in which he’s lost to teammate and points leader Robert Hight (Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the semifinals and quarterfinals.
“I’ve won eight races there, I’ve crashed on their premises, been on fire, been in the burn center, but the crowds, the locals and all those fans that come out of the north to come to the warm weather, it’s just unbelievable,” Force said.
Hight, the low qualifier in both races this season, holds the track Funny Car elapsed time and speed records, set in 2017. He’s won at Gainesville in 2012, ’14 and ’16, when he combined with teammate Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) for a Chevy Racing sweep of the pro car categories.
Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) and KB Racing teammate Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) are four-time Pro Stock winners at the track.
With 799 round wins, Anderson will seek to join John Force (1,313), Warren Johnson (874) and Tony Schumacher (842) as the only drivers in all pro categories with 800. Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion, is also tied with Bob Glidden (102) for third on the all-time No. 1 qualifier list.
Five-time Pro Stock champion and 2018 class championship runner-up Jeg Coughlin Jr. (JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS) marked his 1,000th elimination round with the win at Phoenix. He could surpass 650 round wins this weekend.
Gainesville Raceway will host the first of eight rounds of the SAMTech.edu Factory Stock Showdown. Stephen Bell of Shreveport, Louisiana, won the 2018 event in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, and David Barton of Robesonia, Pennsylvania, was the 2017 series champion.
“I’ve said it many times; it’s a dream come true that new muscle cars are being made right now,” said Barton, referencing new supercharger technology for this season.
This weekend, they’ll be joined in their COPO Camaros by 2018 event winner Arthur Kohn of Richmond, Texas; Randy Taylor of Artesia, New Mexico; Leonard Libersher of Wilmington, Illinois; L. Scott Libersher of Wilmington, Illinois; Doug Hamp of York, Pennsylvania; Waldemar Rodriguez of Cidra, Puerto Rico; Jesse Alexandria of West Bend, Wisconsin; David Janac of Caldwell, Texas; Robert Falcone of Pleasant Valley, New York; Peter Gasko Jr. of Monroe Township, New Jersey; Daniel Condon of Wilmington, Illinois; Kevin Lumsden of Caddo Mills, Texas; Ryan Priddy of Chino, California; Richard Bierie of Acworth, Georgia; and Terry Munroe of Beaver, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, the 2016 Stock Eliminator champion, leads the Chevrolet COPO Camaro contingent in the class this weekend. Also entered are Vic Cagnazzi of New York City; Adam Badgett of Mount Airy, North Carolina; Jack Matyas of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Dan Fletcher of Churchville, New York; Marion Stephenson of Williamsport, Indiana; and L. Scott Libersher of Wilmington, Illinois.
Entered in Super Stock in their Chevy COPO Camaros are Brandon Bakies of Alexandria, Louisiana; Steve Szupka of Northampton, Pennsylvania; Bob Bagley of Warsaw, Virginia; and Cagnazzi.
FS1 will telecast eliminations and finals at 7 p.m. ET March 17.
Fans will have the opportunity to tour the Chevrolet Performance display in the infield and meet Chevy Racing drivers this weekend.
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (2017 class champion; No. 4 qualifier in opener): “Gainesville has always been a special race for me. It’s the Gatornationals. The first East Coast race of the season, It’s the racetrack that I’ve always gone to as a kid. I’ve watched my dad, watched Ashley, and it’s where I had my first win. That is a big one, a very special one. To do it at a track that is so prestigious. I’m looking forward to getting there and to repeat a little bit of history. After Phoenix, we stayed and did an entire day of testing with the Advance Auto Parts dragster and got some good runs under our belt. We made four runs down the track and on our last run put a 3.75 on the board. My crew chiefs, David Grubnic and Mac Savage were both very happy with that and we’re excited going into Gainesville. We’d like to go out there and turn our luck around. Get this Advance Auto Parts team in the winner’s circle.”
AUSTIN PROCK, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONTANA BRAND/ROCKY MOUNTAIN TWIST CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (Making third start; won maiden elimination round at Pomona opener): “We’ve had two good race weekends so far. We qualified No. 6 in Phoenix, so I think we’re getting a good momentum. We’ve made some good passes down the racetrack and we’re looking to keep things going into Gainesville. I have some full-time guys now, and Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson have done an excellent job. My team is putting in the work and it’s showing, so I’m excited to see what this dragster can do. Gainesville Raceway has a lot of history for my family and it’s where I got my Alcohol Funny Car and Nostalgia Funny Car licenses. Getting back there with my Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel team is going to be exciting.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (2017 class champion; won season opener; holds track Funny Car speed and elapsed time records; points leader): “We’re starting the season off strong, carrying over our momentum from last year. We’ve had successful test sessions, been low qualifiers, gone rounds and won a race and we’re only two races into the season so we’re feeling good with where we are and what’s ahead. I always look at Gainesville as a major race in the NHRA series. I’m excited and to win the 50th anniversary Gatornationals, that would be a big one. It seems like John (Force) always wins the special races but I’m looking to get it this year.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, CHEVROLET ACCESSORIES PEAK CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (has 149 class victories; advanced to semifinals in opener; eight-time winner at the track): “My car is coming around, it’s fast and it’s showing the numbers. It was a good car for my daughter Courtney last year. She won four races and had 11 No. 1 qualifiers. Her team really loved her, but I’m finally getting to know them all and it’s been going well. I’m really looking forward to going to the Gatornationals with PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil, and rockin’ and rollin’.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM/ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (five-time class champion; runner-up in 2018 points; won at Phoenix; will have throwback paint scheme): “We have a brand-new RJ Racecars Camaro and it looks completely badass with the design Dad ran back in the early ’70s. We’d love to break it in with a big weekend in Gainesville. This new car, obviously it’s a bit different than what we’ve run the last nine months, is working extremely well in testing. The car feels amazing. Ergonomically speaking, it fits my frame perfectly, so the comfort level is already very high. I’m extremely optimistic, with the talent we have, that we won’t miss a beat.”
GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (four-time class champion; with one elimination round, will become fourth driver in all pro classes with 800; four-time winner at track): “Gainesville Raceway has always been a special place for me. It has a kind of magic feel to it, a lot like Indy. It’s a great track for Pro Stock, and the fans there are just awesome. For me, it’s one of the most special places on the whole tour because my father, Rod, used to take us down there for family vacations. We’d go to Disneyworld and spend time with my dad’s brother, but the best part was that we’d get to go to the race. That was something you just don’t forget.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (has 100 Pro Stock final-round appearances; runner-up in opener; four-time winner at track): “We knew leaving Phoenix that we had a lot of work to do before this race, and I think we’ve had a productive couple of weeks. We’ll find out just how productive it was in just a couple of days when we take our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros out for the first qualifying session. This is always an exciting time of year because things are really started to get going, and from here there’s no looking back. Gainesville can be very fast, and it’s a fun racetrack. The KB Racing team has good history there, and we’d like to add to that with a win at the 50th annual Gatornationals. That would be a special trophy, and it’s one I’d like to have, for sure.”
BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, JIM BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (2017 class champion; winner of Pomona opener): “It’s going to be a fun weekend. I’ll be racing in the Factory Stock Showdown, if all goes as planned, but I’m ready to hop back in the Pro Stock car. My Jim Butner Auto Group Chevy is a great car, and I still feel like it might be the best car out there. Of course, you want to win this deal. I won Stock Eliminator in Gainesville a few years back, and that was just a great feeling. Any win in Gainesville is big – it’s always a trophy you want, but even more so this year because it’s their 50th anniversary. I’m looking forward to it.”