CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS
THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
OCT. 30, 2016
Chevrolet Holds Winning Hand at Las Vegas in Funny Car, Pro Stock
• John Force drives Chevrolet Camaro SS to Funny Car victory
• Courtney Force is Funny Car runner-up for third time this season
• Shane Gray defeats teammate and fellow Chevy driver Drew Skillman for first victory of year
• 19 points separate Chevrolet KB Racing teammates for Pro Stock title
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Oct. 30, 2016) – Shane Gray’s exuberance immediately following his first Pro Stock victory of the season after reaching the semifinals nine times was only matched by John Force, who recorded his 147th Funny Car national victory.
Chevrolet drivers comprised the finals in both professional classes at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the penultimate event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship — and the Bowtie Brand picked up its 30th and 31st national event wins this season across Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock.
Force, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car world champion who drives the PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, recorded a pass of 3.884 seconds at 327.19 mph in defeating daughter and John Force Racing teammate Courtney Force (3.906 seconds) in their sixth elimination round match-up of the season.
“I’m really excited. I never like beating my daughter. I got two wins in the Countdown; just a little too late,” said Force, whose career victory total is 50 more than Warren Johnson, who is next on the all-time list.
John Force this season in elimination match-ups with Courtney Force:
Las Vegas 1
Las Vegas 2
Force, who reset the track speed record in claiming the No. 3 qualifier spot, competed in his 247th career final round. Courtney Force, driving the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, has one victory and three runner-up finishes this season.
“We gave it all we got,” said Force, who took out No. 1 qualifier Jack Beckman in the second round. “He was able to get around me for the win and it was definitely a fun race and a close one. Having an all-Force and all Chevy final was great and definitely what we need to do. I hope to continue doing it in (the season finale at) Pomona and all of next season.”
John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight, the No. 5 qualifier in the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, fell in the first round.
Gray, who has advanced to at least the semifinals in four consecutive events and five of the past six, registered his fifth Pro Stock national win in the next-to-last race of a full-season career. He will turn over the wheel of the Valvoline/Nova Services Chevrolet Camaro SS to his son Tanner next season.
He defeated No. 2 qualifier Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS), who has won twice this season, in the final to end a 52-race winless streak. Skillman and No. 3 qualifier Alex Laughlin have a technical alliance with Gray Motorsports.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “My teammate in the final. Awesome. It’s great. I want to thank NHRA, Mello Yello for all the good years and the good racing and the just good support. To all my guys at Gray Motorsports in the engine shop, a wonderful bunch of guys, and the whole team, this is for you. We have a dream team over there and I can’t wait for my son to step into this car.”
Gray defeated No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Skillman ousted Jason Line in the semifinals. Line, who has eight victories and five runners-up this season, takes a 19-point lead over Anderson into the deciding race Nov. 11-13 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
“As it looks it still should come down to Jason and I fighting it out for No. 1 and 2. I dropped a chance to gain on him here and possibly take the lead to Pomona but that is OK. It’s obviously meant to be to come down to the final race and the last round that we run,” said Anderson, who is seeking his fifth NHRA Pro Stock championship.
Vincent Nobile, who won in the Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS at Reading, Pennsylvania, Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS), Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Laughlin (Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet Camaro SS) were first-round winners.
Brittany Force, who entered the event fourth in the Top Fuel standings, was the No. 7 qualifier in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster. Force, a three-time winner this season, won her first-round match but fell in the quarterfinals.
Dave Bridgewater of Devore, California, drove Chevrolet COPO Camaros in both Stock Eliminator and Super Stock classes. He won first- and second-round matches in both classes before falling in the third round. Dan Fletcher, a winner earlier this season, won three rounds in Stock Eliminator in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro before losing. He was the No. 5 qualifier of 74 entries.
The final of the six-event NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, which caps the 24-race season, will be contested Nov. 11-13 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. FS1 will telecast three hours of live eliminations and finals Nov. 13, starting at 4 p.m. ET.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “What a great weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Chevrolet teams and drivers as the drama in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship was felt with every pass. Congratulations to John Force for the Funny Car victory and to Shane Gray for winning the Pro Stock race as Chevrolet swept into the finals in both pro classes. Now it’s back to Pomona, where is all began in February, to wrap up the 2016 NHRA season. Chevrolet is assured the Pro Stock championship, while the John Force Racing team in Funny Car and Top Fuel will look to close out successful seasons with victories. We’re looking forward to another exciting weekend.”
An interview with Funny Car winner JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, CHEVROLET CAMARO SS:
Q: IT SEEMS WHEN THIS TEAM COMES TO THE COUNTDOWN IT REALLY COMES ALIVE.
JOHN FORCE: “I was told we were just a little short. They told me all I had to do was win this and I had a shot at (points leader Ron) Capps and at the other end they told me I didn’t. I want a recount. If I don’t get it, I’m building a wall between me and Schumacher’s. No, I’m really excited. I never like beating my daughter. I got two wins in the Countdown; just a little too late. It’s pretty exciting when I see the stands packed and the way NHRA and the way our TV has really been hopping and sold out crowds and so many things going on. And to be a part of it at my age is really awesome.”
Q: TWO WINS ALREADY IN THE COUNTDOWN.
JOHN FORCE: “I have some young kids and we’re building for the future and I’m looking at building more teams. Sponsors are starting to look, starting to talk and that is really exciting for our sport and all the teams out here. Chevrolet and all our sponsors are really good to me. We have some new deals that we’ll be announcing; pretty exciting stuff. We gave them a good show. I’m excited with these kids just to be in the hunt.”
Q: IS THE STUDY (JOHN FORCE IS UNDERGOING) ABOUT A 27-YEAR-OLD SPIRIT TRAPPED IN A 60-SOMETHING-YEAR-OLD’S BODY?
JOHN FORCE: “No, just learning about what you can rally do at my age. When is it over? It ain’t over till I say it’s over. But the real truth is I’m learning that it’s not rally over. There’s a whole future out there and there are things you’ve got to do to make yourself better and I’ve been doing it, but I’ve learned some real tricks.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner SHANE GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE/NOVA SERVICES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier):
Q: A BIG DEAL FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND TO HAVE BOTH GRAY MOTORSPORTS CARS IN THE FINAL.
SHANE GRAY: “It was a great weekend for the team and a great weekend for me. I’ve been in 10 semis this year and haven’t won since the U.S. Nationals in ’14, so it was a great day. I have one more race to run and then my son is getting in the car. I can’t think of a better time to win and maybe we could go to Pomona and double up. I want to thank NHRA for everything through the year and Mello Yello and everybody who has stood beside us.”
Q; NOW TO ONE RACE LEFT. WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS?
SHANE GRAY: “I’m really looking forward to (having his son take over). My dad used to tell me that it’s more gratifying to me to watch you do good than it is for myself to do good, and I always kind of wondered, ‘yeah, right.’ I’m in my mid-40s now and I understand the concept of it now, and there are a lot of cool things in life that you kind of take for granted when you’re younger but you appreciate when you get a little bit of age on you. I think I’ll be just fine.”
Q: DOES THIS VICTORY EXTINGUISH THE FIRE IN YTOUR BELLY TO COMPETE?
SHANE GRAY: “I like to compete, whether it’s darts or pool or drag racing or sprint car racing on a half-mile dirt track. It’s all fun and competitive. I’ll probably run three races next year and maybe Indy. I’ll come back and run the K&N Challenge. As long as I don’t get in Tanner’s way. I’m totally fine just supporting him.”
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