Chevy Racing–Team Chevy Drivers Seek to Make Their Marks at Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals

Team Chevy Drivers Seek to Make Their Marks at Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals

DETROIT (Sept. 2, 2015) – It’s the oldest and most prestigious event in the National Hot Rod Association. It’s also the most important one for the Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series. The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is the 18th event on this year’s NHRA schedule and the final race before the Countdown to the Championship begins.

The top 10 drivers in points from each of the four professional classes will advance to the six-event championship. Teams and drivers then have to navigate through the elimination process to make it to the year-end championship-crowning event in Pomona, California. Fields will continue to have 16 cars in each event during the Countdown.

Heading to Indianapolis, eight Team Chevy drivers are in the Countdown: 16-time NHRA champion John Force in Funny Car; and Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Chris McGaha, Jason Line, Larry Morgan, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray in Pro Stock.

Drivers in the Mello Yello Series categories will earn points based on a point-and-a-half system (150 points to win). A single racer in each category can earn a maximum of 208 points at this event.
That gives Team Chevy drivers Robert Hight, Brittany Force, Vincent Nobile and Drew Skillman additional hope to hold and improve their top-10 championship standings during the Indianapolis weekend. Courtney Force in Funny Car stands 11th but is just 73 points out of 10th place.

In all, there are 63 Team Chevy cars on this weekend’s entry, including an eye-popping 42 Chevrolet COPO Camaros in the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock classes.

The roster of Chevrolet drivers have fared well at Lucas Oil Raceway – home of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – over the years with eight Team Chevy competitors in the Pro and Sportsman ranks combining for 20 event victories. Greg Anderson leads with six Wallys from the U.S. Nationals followed by John Force with four, and Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Hight with three.

Shane Gray is the defending U.S. Nationals Pro Stock winner, having beaten Dave Connolly in the final for his fourth career NHRA victory. On the way to his first Indianapolis Wally, he beat brother Jonathan in the semifinal as well as Allen Johnson and Shane Tucker in earlier rounds.

In addition, Sportsman competitors Bruno Massel and Jeff Strickland (both Stock Eliminator) and Dan Fletcher (Super Stock) have claimed Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals event victories, as well.

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals weekend also includes the Traxxas Nitro Shootouts for Top Fuel and Funny Car categories. The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts are race-within-a-race bonus events that pay $100,000 to the winners in each category. Drivers in the Nitro classes become eligible by winning an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular-season event, holding the No. 1 spot in the standings after the event in Brainerd, or via a fan vote and lottery-style drawing

John Force won the Funny Car Traxxas Shootout in 2014. He and Hight qualified for this year’s event with race victories, and Courtney Force won a lottery drawing following a fan vote to join the Funny Car field.

Top Fuel will be showcased Saturday and the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be held Sunday.

All the action from Lucas Oil Raceway can be seen on ESPN and ESPN2 on Sunday and Monday. ESPN’s qualifying coverage begins at 11 a.m., ET on Sunday with tape-delayed coverage on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. ET. ESPN’s coverage of eliminations begins at 4 p.m. ET on Monday.

CHEVROLET IN NHRA 2015: Funny Car – Camaro SS – 3 wins: John Force (Las Vegas, Epping), Robert Hight (Brainerd)

Pro Stock – Camaro SS – 16 wins: Jason Line (Pomona, Atlanta), Rodger Brogdon (Phoenix), Greg Anderson (Gainesville, Englishtown, Epping, Norwalk), Larry Morgan (Charlotte, Denver), Erica Enders (Las Vegas, Houston, Topeka, Bristol, Brainerd), Chris McGaha (Sonoma, Seattle)

Stock Eliminator – COPO Camaro – 3 wins: Dan Fletcher (Bristol), Jeff Strickland (Joliet), Ryan Montford (Denver)

ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING PROGRAM MANAGER, NHRA: “For Team Chevy, this is the biggest weekend of the year in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. For one, Chevrolet plays a major role in the event from both a competition and activation standpoint. We are well-represented in five categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car Pro Stock, Super Stock and Stock Eliminator. Of note, we have 42 Chevrolet COPO Camaros competing – the most of any event in 2015.”
“Secondly, this is the final event before the Countdown to the Championship. The results from Brainerd two weeks ago saw John Force clinch a berth in Funny Car, as did Larry Morgan, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray in Pro Stock. Robert Hight’s Funny Car victory helped his chances, and Brittany Force’s runner-up finish did the same for her in Top Fuel. Courtney Force starts the weekend outside the Funny Car top-10 and will need a good weekend in her John Force Racing Chevy Funny Car Camaro SS to advance.
“Vincent Nobile and Drew Skillman are in good shape to fill out the Pro Stock field, which can potentially see nine Chevrolet Pro Stock Camaro SS entries make the Countdown. Our strength in Pro Stock is a testament to the efforts of our partner teams, which have captured 16 of 17 event wins this season. We would like nothing more than to win our five classes and qualify five more Team Chevy drivers in the Countdown on this important weekend.”

ROBERT HIGHT, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JOHN FORCE RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Event winner two weeks ago at Brainerd): “Indy isn’t like any other race. In 2006 when I was in the final I kept trying to tell myself it was just another race but when I rolled through the water box my knees were knocking. This is the biggest race of the year with the most history. You have more fans that come to this race and you want to give them time for autographs and photos. I just try and get as much rest as possible and just enjoy the race.
“We have had a lot of success at Indy. I think that has something to do with how much support we get from all our John Force Racing employees. We have a lot of the people from the shop plus family members so I think that is what makes that race so special. The best way to approach Indy is to try and take it one day at a time. You have to just stay focused on each qualifying run and then also manage your time around the Traxxas Shootout.
“Getting that win in Brainerd was huge for my Auto Club team. First off it locked us into the Traxxas Shootout. Secondly we viewed the Lucas Oil Nationals as a sponsor race since Lucas Oil joined our team this year so you want to win that race. Getting that win does give you some momentum but we have been confident that a win was right around the corner. You want to go into the Chevrolet Performance Nationals with a win under your belt and we did that in Brainerd.”

SHANE GRAY, GRAY MANUFACTURING TECH CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Defending U.S. Nationals Pro Stock winner: “Winning Indy is big. It’s something most guys only ever dream of. My first two years racing the U.S. Nationals I was driving a B/A Comp car, and I started racing Pro Stock there in 2010, but the first time I won a round in Indy (in Pro Stock) was in 2013. Last year was the first time I came to Indy and thought I had a chance to do something, and with all of the history there, to even have a chance is something special. When you get there, you have to try not to think about what a big deal it is. You just want to try to be the best you can be.”

JEG COUGHLIN JR., STOCKSETH RACING/ELITE/JEGS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (Three-time U.S. Nationals event winner): “Just driving over there you start to get hyped. It’s Indy. It’s the U.S. Nationals. For drag racers, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. When I pull off Crawfordsville Road my heart definitely picks up a few beats. I’m ready to go right now just thinking about it.
“The history, the success we’ve had, it’s all good. But as we say, there are no provisionals in drag racing. That’s one of the things we love; you have to prove yourself each and every weekend. Having won before or being a past series champion doesn’t help you at the next race.
“While we haven’t been racing Pro Stock this year, we have entered a few bracket races, so I felt like my driving would be there and so far it’s worked out. Of course, when you have a car as capable as this one underneath you, that certainly lifts a lot of burdens off the driver’s shoulders. It allows you to fully concentrate on the task at hand when you’re in the seat.”