CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
MENARDS NHRA HEARTLAND NATIONALS PRESENTED BY MINTIES
HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA AT TOPEKA, KANSAS
POST-RACE DRIVER QUOTES
SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017
An interview with Pro Stock winner TANNER GRAY (Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS):
Q: ANYTHING CHANGE MENTALLY FOR YOU WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WOULD RACE ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREATS IN THE CLASS IN THE FINAL (JEG COUGHLIN JR.)?
TANNER GRAY: No, my dad just told me to have fun. I felt like I was pretty consistent all day. Jeg is one of the greatest drivers to come to the sport, if not the best, and my guys gave me a great race car. I wouldn’t be sitting here if not for them. They make my job easy. If you have a good race car, it’s going to make the driver look good. If you have a bad one, you’re going to look bad. They put a lot of hard work in this new car. I’m very fortunate to be here.
Q: HAS IT SNUCK INTO THE BACK OF YOUR MIND THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP-CALIBER CAR AND THAT YOU COULD COMPETE WITH THESE GUYS?
TANNER GRAY: I had that mind-set coming into the year. You have Dave Connolly and some of the best crew guys in the business. We have a great engine shop back home and those guys work their butts off, so there’s no doubt that we have a championship-caliber team and so far I feel like I’ve shown that I’ve been able to compete with the best of them on my days. My deal is I just have to get more consistent as a driver. Just because you win a race doesn’t mean you’re the best. I need to go back and continue to hit the practice tree, continue to study and just try to grind it out.
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (No. 4 qualifier; fell in second round): “We’d been struggling the last few races, so we went to Indy and tested, and this is the result (on setting national Top Fuel speed record in first round). This is the run we knew we could achieve, so I’m happy. We definitely made some changes for Topeka, and we have a car that we are confident in. It went down the racetrack every time, set my career-best time and speed. We have a race car that I know we can win in; we’ve just got to get me straightened out. I’ll find it; I’ll be back. I have a great team behind me, and we’ll be ready for the next one.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; fell in second round): “Really excited about our Advanced Auto Parts team. Joining in the 338 mph club this weekend was a killer run for us. Not many people have done it, and this was the weekend, this was the track, here at Heartland Park to do it. I’m really excited to see these strides our team is making. More importantly, the fact that we have had a consistent car on race day. We backed it down a little when we went up there for round two, wanted to be safe and make sure we got to run down there. But the track changed completely from round one so we backed it down and it was a little bit too much; we got outrun in that second round.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; fell in semifinals): “We are going rounds, we are running so good. Anything less than a final round, you feel like you failed. We are going rounds, (I’m) driving all right. This was kind of a different set of circumstances with the conditions we had this weekend, it was pretty amazing. We just gotta put four together. We’ve got a great team, and everybody is doing a great job – no mistakes. It’s going to turn, and when it does, I think its gonna go our way for a while.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 6 qualifier; fell in first round): “Didn’t get the job done today. I got beat up out there. We’ll go back to test and we got to get better. All my cars ran good today; I just didn’t get the win.”
BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier; fell in semifinals): “It’s way early to be thinking about (driver championship), but our team is getting better. I feel like I’ve been driving better, too. That was a close race I lost there with Jeg (Coughlin Jr.), and it could have gone either way – just like when we used to bracket race. I just want to win rounds, because when you win rounds, the points come. If you can get to the semis and some finals, that’s pretty good. This weekend was good.”
VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier; fell in semifinals): “Well, the good news is we finally got that monkey off our back and got past second round. The bad news is we shook the tires in the semifinals and lost. We weren’t fast but we were consistent. A decent weekend for our Mountain View Tire team. On to Epping.”
ERICA ENDERS, ELITE MOTORSPORTS, LUPE TORTILLA ELITE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier; fell in first round): “The guys spent a lot of time overnight and this morning to get us ready to race. It’s disappointing when things don’t go the way you plan. This class goes in cycles. The tide is bound to turn in our favor very soon. We have great horsepower, the best people in the sport, lots of drive and determination, and excellent work ethic. We are so eager to get this car back to winning rounds and visiting the winner’s circle with regularity. It’ll be nice to get back to the shop in Oklahoma and continue working on things to make us better. We brought out a new motor this weekend and we need to spend a little more time with it to make it work properly with this Rick Jones chassis. The power it showed on the dyno got everyone excited and hopefully we’ll be able to show that off in Epping.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; fell in second round): “My Summit Racing Chevy Camaro is certainly better than it has been the last few weeks. It ran good all weekend long, and we kept making it better. I’m very happy with that, and it would have been a good week, we just had driver error – that’s all. All three of our engines ran really well this weekend, and I’m happy with that. I have a good car, I just need to do a better job of driving it.”
GREG ANDERSON, SUMMIT RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; fell in second round): “I sat there and waited on the limiter for quite awhile, but the tree didn’t come on. I finally let the clutch out and went down the track, and I made a nice run, but I got no time. Because of that, I had no chance at getting lane choice. It’s a bad break, and I just got off on the wrong foot. The next round, I didn’t have a good light, and I lost. That first round was probably the death of me, but what do you do? The good news is that we definitely ran better this weekend with all three of our cars. We qualified 1-2-3, and we had a good chance. We just didn’t execute. But the bottom line is that we did find performance this weekend, so that makes us feel better. You have to find as much performance as you can, week-to-week, to win these races. That’s what it takes, and they’re tough to win. I definitely had a better week than last week, so we’ll look at it that way.”