CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS
ZMAX DRAGWAY AT CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
SEPT. 18, 2016
Chevrolet Drivers Record Two Wins in First Round of the Countdown
• John Force adds to record with 146th career Funny Car victory
• No. 1 seed Jason Line earns eighth Pro Stock win of the season
• KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson, No. 1 qualifier, is the runner-up
• Three-time Top Fuel race winner Brittany Force reaches quarterfinals
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 18, 2016) – John Force says that “being old is all in your head.”
The 16-time National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car champion, who turned 67 in May, proved that again in the NHRA Carolina Nationals by winning the Funny Car final for his 146th career victory.
Also at zMAX Dragway, Jason Line recorded his eighth victory of the season and 45th of his career by defeating KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson in the Pro Stock final to give Chevrolet Racing two victories in the first round of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Force, the No. 3 qualifier in the Auto Zone/PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final with a pass of 3.946 seconds at 325.04 mph. He eliminated Dave Richards, Tim Wilkerson, and Ron Capps to reach his 245th career final round. Force is 54-32 in head-to-head matchups with Capps, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed.
“We will give you a show in this Countdown. I may not win it, but I will be in the hunt,” said Force, who jumped from the No. 7 seed to No. 3. “We’re starting to turn the corner. In this life, they are running for president at my age, so this isn’t about getting old. It’s about NHRA drag racing. You (fans) are what makes me live, what makes me breathe.”
Thirty-nine times Anderson and Line have qualified 1-2 in an NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock event, and 32 times one of the champion drivers has gone on to win. Line, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed, picked up the Wally with a pass of 6.621 seconds to No. 1 qualifier Anderson’s 6.639.
It was the ninth time that Anderson and Line, who combined to win 14 of the 18 regular-season Pro Stock races, met in the final round this season.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve been dominating, but we just happened to win today,” said Line, who drove the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS to the final round for the 13th time this season. “The Summit Racing Chevy was bad to the bone, and I did a good job of not messing it up.”
Line and Anderson retain the Nos. 1 and 2 spots heading to Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, which hosts the second round of the Countdown to the Championship on Sept. 23-25 with the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) earned his initial Pro Stock victory at the track last year, and Anderson reset the elapsed time track record at 6.492 seconds. FS1 will telecast three hours of live coverage Sept. 25, starting at 2 p.m. ET.
“A good day for KB Racing and for Chevrolet,” said Anderson, who recorded the 86th No. 1 qualifier spot of his career. “We will move on to St. Louis with a 1-2 points start and I have said it before, you cannot win this championship in the first race of the Countdown. But you can lose it. We didn’t lose it today and that is the good news and a relief on our mind. We can go to St. Louis guns blazing and hopefully open up that lead.”
Anderson outran No. 5 qualifier Alex Laughlin (Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Line topped No. 3 qualifier Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the semifinals.
First-round winners included Chris McGaha, who won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals two weeks ago in the Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS, Bo Butner in the Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS, and No. 4 qualifier Shane Gray driving the Valvoline/Nova Services Chevrolet Camaro SS.
Also in Funny Car, Robert Hight, the No. 7 qualifier in the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, won his first-round matchup against Cruz Pedregon with a pass of 3.916 seconds. Hight, who won the opener of the Countdown in 2009 and ’13, lost to Capps in the second round. John Force Racing teammate Courtney Force, the No. 8 seed in the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, fell in the first round.
In Top Fuel, No. 2 qualifier Brittany Force won her first-round matchup but fell in the second round by .0107 of a second to eventual winner and Countdown No. 1 seed Antron Brown, who she defeated last month in the final at Brainerd, Minnesota. Force, driving the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, had a pass of 3.797 seconds at 320.97 mph. Force earned the second of her three regular-season wins in April at zMAX Raceway.
Kyle Cultrera of Eliot, Maine, advanced to the semifinals in Stock Eliminator. Cultrera, driving the GMPartsNow.com/Berger Chevy Chevrolet COPO Camaro, was the No. 23 qualifier in the 55-car field. A.J. Currie was the No. 1 qualifier in the Poole-Adams Racing & Dad Chevrolet COPO Camaro and advanced to the third round.
Jeff Myers, who qualified 12th of 56 Super Stock entries in the John Lingenfelter Tribute Chevrolet COPO Camaro, won the first two rounds of eliminations before falling.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to John Force for winning the Funny Car final and Jason Line for earning the win in the Pro Stock final against KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson in their Chevrolet Camaros. All three are past NHRA Mello Yello champions, and they’ve taken the first step to claiming another title. The Countdown to the Championship is a tough road, with the competition ratcheted up another notch. All the Chevrolet drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock came out and gave their best efforts at zMAX Dragway, and will up their game this week in Round 2 at St. Louis.”
An interview with Funny Car winner John Force, John Force Racing, Advance Auto/PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS:
Q: YOU WENT THROUGH SOME EXTREMELY TOUGH COMPETITION TO EARN THE WIN TODAY. HOW DID YOU DO IT?
JOHN FORCE: “It’s stadiums like this that really create the magic in your heart and you really want to race. We had a good day.”
Q: RIGHT BEFORE THE COUNTDOWN YOU MADE A PERSONNEL MOVE TO BRING IN JASON MCCULLOCH AS ANOTHER PIECE FOR THE CHESS MATCH. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT?
JOHN FORCE: “We have Mike Neff overlooking all the cars. In the end, we needed to polish it. I hired McCulloch because of the talent. It was time to take some load off the other people, and I made that call last week. A lot of work cut out for us. We’ll be testing here all day tomorrow. You win a race and you still come right back and you test. I’m excited. My wife said to me this morning, ‘You have to get out of bed.’ It’s tough on me. I’m beat up and it’s been a challenge the last four nights in a row. I got up and I was mad. I said I was going to win today. Right before the final she said, ‘Remember what you told me this morning?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to win.’ I have a race car now that I can race with, and when you get a race car and you’re on your game I can win. Tommy Johnson flew all weekend; he outran us but I was right in the hunt with him. (Ron) Capps in the semis, I love to race him. At the end of the day it was just a fight and we got the win, and we’ll just take it from here.”
Q: HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO RISE TO THE OCCASION OVER AND OVER AGAIN AGAINST TWO GREAT DRIVERS?
JOHN FORCE: “There ain’t no magic. Just some days you win and some days you don’t. I don’t want to get into stats because I hate that, but those kids are real good. (Matt) Hagan, Robert Hight, my daughter Courtney (Force), these kids are real good and it takes everything I can muster to fight with them. They are the ones who drive me every day. It’s been a great day for me. I’m 67 years old and I love it and want to be a part of it, and the day I can’t do it I’ll walk away.”
Q: DO YOU FEEL AN OBLIGATION, WITH A GRANDSTAND NAMED AFTER YOU, TO DO BETTER HERE?
JOHN FORCE: “I love Bruton Smith. Next to my dad, Bruton Smith was the guy who took me under his wing and wanted to help me with hotel rooms and things when I couldn’t afford to eat. He built this sport, he built NASCAR. I have to find him to thank him personally for what he’s done. We’re in fight now, and my hot rod and I have turned the corner.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner Jason Line, KB Racing, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS:
Q: TO COME OUT AND WIN THE FIRST RACE IN THE COUNTDOWN AFTER LOSING A LARGE AMOUNT OF POINTS AFTER THE RESET MAKES A HUGE STATEMENT. HOW DID YOU GET IT DONE?
JASON LINE: “Luck I think. I don’t know how we got it done honestly. It was a great day for us and unlike Chip (Ellis) I didn’t have the feeling that I was going to go win today. To be sitting here is a great, great feeling. Just a great way to start the Countdown. if you want to win the championship you really just have to come out smoking and somehow we were able to do that today. To race Greg (Anderson) in the final was a great thing. It’s good but it’s bad when you look over there because that is the last guy you want to race in the final round because he is tough. He gets the best of me more often than not. But today was my day.”
Q: IT WAS NOT AN EASY DAY BY ANY MEASAURE WITH WHO YOU HAD TO RACE.
JASON LINE: “No it wasn’t easy for me for sure. I was actually able to drive halfway decent today and the car ran great. It was a tough race track and tough conditions. We ran well. We weren’t great but we definitely good. So you couple that with my left foot working okay, then it was a good day.”
Q: IT LOOKED LIKE THE COMPETITION HAD CAUGHT UP TO YOU GUYS BEFORE THE COUNTDOWN BUT SOUNDS LIKE YOU GUYS WERE DOING SOME TESTING. DOES THIS RACE SEEM LIKE YOU ARE GOING BACK TO THE THIRD RACE OF THE SEASON WHEN YOU GUYS HAD A CLEAR ADVANTAGE OVER EVERYBODY?
JASON LINE: “No, not that far back because everybody has made gains. But we put together what we felt was our best package from all the running we have done over the last two months of the testing and everything else. And it ran well. We were not the dominant cars, but we made good runs and we were able to be the fastest. Shane (Gray) ran well and so did the Elite cars. So we weren’t dominant by any means, but we raced well today and really that is what it is going to take to win the Countdown.”
Q: HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THIS CHAMPIONSHIP QUEST KNOWING THAT YOUR CHIEF RIVAL IS WORKING BESIDE YOU?
JASON LINE: “I think it’s a great feeling actually. It’s good and as long as one of the two of us wins it, I am going to be happy. Obviously, the selfish side of me wants to win but as long as somebody on our team wins whether it’s me, him or even Bo (Butner) for that matter…..as long as it’s one of the KB Racing cars I will be happy. We have run well all year and obviously the first part of the year we were a good bit faster than the other cars and to not be able to win the championship would certainly be a let down to a great season. So I feel as long as one of us wins, I am going to be happy.”
Q: IS THERE ANY REGRET IN THE TESTING AND NOT KEEPING YOUR FOOT ON THE THROTTLE AND EXTENDING EVEN MORE?
JASON LINE: “No, I was expecting to come into the Countdown with the same lead. It wouldn’t have made any difference. I learned some things that I think helped me win today. So no regret at all.”
Q: YOU GUYS HAVE CERTAINLY LEARNED SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE APPLYING.
JASON LINE: “Well, we learned a lot of things. If I could tell you in one conversation, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But we are staying here to test tomorrow and we are not done. We are going to do whatever we have to do to win this championship.”