CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
AAAINSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK AT MADISON, ILLINOIS
SEPT. 25, 2016
Chevrolet Records 250th Victory in National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock Competition
• 21-time NHRA Manufacturers Cup winner reaches milestone at St. Louis
• Alex Laughlin earns maiden Pro Stock national victory in Gas Monkey Energy Camaro
• Bo Butner is runner-up for fifth time this season in Pro Stock
• John Force Racing’s Robert Hight is No. 1 Funny Car qualifier, reaches quarterfinals
MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 25, 2016) – A first-time winner provided Chevrolet with a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) milestone.
The Bowtie Brand recorded its 250th national Pro Stock victory in the sport when Alex Laughlin won the Pro Stock class final of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Chevrolet, which won the first of its record 21 NHRA Manufacturers Cup titles in 1966, has claimed 27 national event wins so far during the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.
“This weekend in St. Louis has been special for Chevrolet with its 250th NHRA victory. And to top it off, it came compliments of a first-time winner in Alex Laughlin,” Chevrolet NHRA program manager Roger Allen said. “Chevrolet has been fortunate to be associated with outstanding drivers and teams during its history in this exciting sport, and we thank everyone who has helped over the years make these results come to fruition. We look forward to many more years of great competition and championships.”
Laughlin, 28, competing in his 27th Pro Stock national event, had a pass of 6.611 seconds at 208.68 mph to run past Bo Butner in the final round of the second race of the Countdown to the Championship. Laughlin, of Granbury, Texas, is the 102nd different driver to compete in a Pro Stock final and the 63rd to hoist a Wally. Three weeks ago, Aaron Strong, driving the A&J Furniture Chevrolet Camaro SS, also was a first-time winner.
“We had a really good feeling about it all day and had a great car all weekend. I’m speechless,” said Laughlin, a second-year Pro Stock driver who missed qualifying for the Countdown by two points over the course of the 18-race regular season. “I just wish we would have picked up this momentum a little earlier in the year since we’re not in the Countdown.”
Butner, driving the Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS, also was seeking his first Pro Stock national win after four runner-up finishes this season. The last Pro Stock final with two non-winners was in 2011 at Houston, with Vincent Nobile prevailing over Roger Brockton.
Laughlin defeated No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray (Valvoline/Nova Services Chevrolet Camaro SS) on a holeshot in one semifinal, while Butner also won on a holeshot over Countdown points leader Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS).
The quarterfinal lineup was filled by Chevrolet Camaros. First-round winners included No.4 qualifier Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS), Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS), No. 3 qualifier Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS).
Robert Hight earned the No. 1 qualifier honor in Funny Car with a pass of 3.893 seconds at 328.38 mph. The 2009 Funny Car champion dispatched John Hale in the first round of eliminations with a pass of 3.909 seconds at 327.66 mph. Hight, driving the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, lost in the second round by 0.008 of a second to eventual race runner-up Tommy Johnson Jr.
“We definitely had a race car that could have won,” said Hight, who registered his 48th No. 1 qualifier. “We tested and switched a lot of things on this AAA Insurance Camaro and we came in here and were the No. 1 qualifier. That first run was stout and we just lost a close race in the second round. Breaks are going to start going our way.”
John Force, who earned his 146th career Funny Car victory a week earlier in North Carolina ran quicker (3.961 seconds) and faster (324.83 mph) than Jack Beckman in their second-round matchup, but Beckman took a 0.0012 of a second — about seven inches — holeshot win. Beckman went on to win the event. Force, who qualified 10th in the PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, improved to 53-28 against Del Worsham with his first-round win. He remained third in the Countdown standings.
Courtney Force, the No. 6 qualifier in the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, also won her first-round Funny Car match, but lost in the second round to Ron Capps.
Brittany Force, who was the No. 8 qualifier in Top Fuel in her Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, won her first-round matchup against Clay Millican with her quickest pass of the weekend (3.756 seconds). Her car lost traction early in the second round and fell to Richie Crampton.
Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, a two-time winner in Stock Eliminator this season, qualified No. 13 of 56 entries to lead five drivers in their Chevrolet COPO Camaros. Dan Fletcher of Churchville, New York, qualified No. 56 and advanced to the second round of eliminations.
Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, will host the third round of the Countdown to the Championship on Sept. 30-Oct. 2. McGaha won the Pro Stock event – his third victory of the season — at the racetrack last year. FOX Sports 1 will telecast three hours of live coverage starting at 2p.m. ET Sunday.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to Alex Laughlin and the Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet team, who prevailed over Bob Butner in the final and over a stout field of Chevrolet Camaros that occupied every spot in the quarterfinals. Also, congratulations to Robert Hight as he drove the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to the No. 1 qualifier spot for the 48th time in his career and a first-round victory. The chase for maximum points in the Countdown to the Championship continues this week at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania with the third event in the six-race playoff. We’re hopeful of more exceptional results from the Chevrolet drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner ALEX LAUGHLIN, GAS MONKEY ENERGY Chevrolet Camaro SS:
Q: CAN YOU PUT YOUR FEELINGS INTO WORDS?
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “It’s an unbelievable feeling; it’s not even real. The whole day has been a blur it seems, just taking it one round at a time. I came up to the final and I was a little bit nervous, but I just took a couple of deep breaths and just told myself it was just like any other round and even qualifying. Just go up there, stage the car good and as soon as I let the clutch out I knew our crew chief put a really solid tune-up on the car. Once you get it to third gear and that thing isn’t moving and shaking around, I knew we had it made. I looked over and Bo wasn’t around so I thought as long as we weren’t red I’ve got it. When I saw the win light, that’s when I started to get excited.”
Q: YOU HAD KIND OF A WHIRLWIND LEAD-UP TO EVEN GETTING IN A PRO STOCK CAR.TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THAT
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “I was running Top Dragster about a year and a half ago with Gas Monkey, and they decided they wanted me in the Pro Stock car in Sonoma. We said, ‘Well, that’s in three weeks.’ I didn’t even have a license and we didn’t have a car. We started shopping around and Larry Jeffers put us in touch with Larry Morgan, who put us in touch with the Grays. In about a week, we flew up to Gray Motorsports and bought a car, bought an engine program, and then I made just enough passes to get my license, loaded the car up for Dallas to get it wrapped and I flew straight out to Sonoma. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was nervous with the pressure of the media and Gas Monkey and everything on top of me, and went out and qualified so that was a huge accomplishment. Then I had Greg Anderson in the first round, and we were both about .42 on the tree and I looked over and saw him beside me and thought I actually had a chance. It’s been up and down since then. We’ve done well. I just wish we would have picked up this momentum a little earlier in the year since we’re not in the Countdown. They keep saying I’m the spoiler, but these guys didn’t take it easy on me when I came out here the first time, so even though they are in the Countdown and I’m not, I’m certainly not going to take it easy on them either.”
Q: IS THIS THE BIGGEST MOMENT IN YOUR ENTIRE RACING CAREER?
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “That is not even a practical question. This is as good as it gets. I had these ideas of stepping stones I would like to accomplish throughout the year, and first it was win a round. After that, I said I would like to be No. 1 qualifier. Then I said I would love to make the Countdown. Everything was falling into place; we missed the Countdown by two points and I said now everything is messed up. We have the race win now, so we’ll get the Countdown next year.”
Q: WE’LL SEE YOU FULL TIME NEXT YEAR?
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “Yes, sir. We’ll be here.”
Q: WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU WERE STAGING FOR THE FINAL?
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “I have a different routine every single time, honestly. Sometimes I like to go in first and sometimes I like to go in second. This time I was going to let Bo go in first and I just sat there in neutral until I saw his stage bulb come on. I was going to sit there and let that thing burn to the ground if that’s what it took. I had my mind made up. He lit his top blub and I lit mine, rolled in, light flashed and I just took my foot off the clutch.”
Q: WHAT WAS THE ONE STRUGGLING MOMENT OF THE DAY FOR YOU?
ALEX LAUGHLIN: “Racing my teammate, Shane Gray. Unfortunately, he had to race our other teammate Drew (Skillman) in the second round. Going up against him, I didn’t like that. At the end of the day, we just came out to do our best regardless of who it is. We did what we had to do.”