CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
CIRCLE K NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, CALIFORNIA
FEB. 12, 2017
Chevrolet off to quick start in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season
• KB Racing picks up where it left off in 2016 with win at Auto Club Raceway
• Reigning Pro Stock world champion Jason Line prevails in season opener
• Courtney Force advances to Funny Car final round for 19th time in career
• John Force, who records second-best speed in history, reaches semifinals
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2017) – In the previous 43 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock seasons, the winner of the opening event has gone on to claim the division championship 12 times.
Jason Line, who in 2011 was the most recent driver to nail that statistic, is looking for a repeat performance in 2017. Line kicked off the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season with a bang by winning the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
The reigning Pro Stock world champion, driving the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated teammate Greg Anderson in the 200th final-round appearance for KB Racing. Line, who advanced to the Winternationals final round for the fourth consecutive year, earned his 46th career victory and has won at least one event in 14 seasons in a row.
“The Chevy Camaro is bad to the bone right now and I feel honored to be able to drive it and honored to have the No. 1 on it,” said Line, the No. 1 qualifier who posted a final-round run of 6.568 seconds to Anderson’s 6.579. “Happy to be here and I thank all the California fans for coming out.”
Chevrolet won 23 of the 24 Pro Stock races in 2016, and Chevrolet drivers won every first-round elimination matchup to start the new season.
The Bowtie Brand also was represented in the Funny Car final as No. 3 qualifier Courtney Force raced to her 19th final in 120 career races. Her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS came up short to Matt Hagan (3.875 seconds to 3.901).
“Tough final round against Matt Hagan,” she said. “We gave him a run for his money and had a close run. It tried to pull me toward the inside and I came close to the centerline, but I stayed in it, looking to get that win. Just wasn’t enough. I’m really looking forward to being in the No. 2 spot going into the second race of the season.”
Force recorded a 3.872-second semifinal pass to eliminate John Force (3.886 seconds) for the first time in the past nine meetings between the father and daughter. John Force, the No. 2 qualifier in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS who posted the second-best speed in NHRA Funny Car history at 335.15 mph in qualifications, has won this event seven times including five times in his 16 Funny Car championship seasons.
John Force Racing’s Robert Hight, the No. 5 qualifier in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, lost in the first round.
Last year, Anderson defeated Line in the Winternationals final and in the final round of the season wrap-up race at Auto Club Raceway. Anderson, who holds a 19-16 final-round advantage over his longtime teammate, placed second in the standings for the second consecutive year.
Anderson defeated two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders (Elite Chevrolet Camaro SS) by five-thousandths of a second in one semifinal and Line ousted KB Racing teammate Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the other.
In the second round, Anderson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (JEGS.com Elite Chevrolet Camaro SS) squared off in an elimination for the 89th time, which is second to John Force-Cruz Pedregon in number of matchups in NHRA history. Anderson has won 50 of the head-to-head runs.
Coughlin, a six-time NHRA world champion, defeated Deric Kramer in the first round. Other first-round winners included Tanner Gray (Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS), Shane Gray (Gray Manufacturing Tech), and Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS). Tanner Gray, 17, of Mooresville, North Carolina, was the No. 9 qualifier and fell to Line by .0066 of a second (about 2 feet) in the second round of his NHRA Pro Stock debut.
“I think the more you put pressure on yourself and the more you try to get amped up the worse you do,” Gray said. “I think you are better to be calm and relaxed and just doing your deal. With more seat time, the better feel you get and the more information you can get back to the crew chief. I think with more laps we will get better and better.”
Brittany Force was the No. 4 qualifier in Top Fuel and won her opening-round elimination matchup in the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster with a solid pass of 3.726 seconds at 322.19 mph. The three-time winner in 2016 fell in the second round.
In the Sportsman racing Stock Eliminator category, Dan Fletcher qualified No. 20 of 65 in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro and advanced to the third round of eliminations. Fletcher won the season-opening event at the track in 2016.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, hosts the Arizona NHRA Nationals on Feb. 24-26. Jason Line won the 2016 Pro Stock final in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, while Brittany Force was runner-up in Top Fuel and John Force was the second-place finisher in Funny Car.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “It was a great start for Chevrolet teams and drivers to the 2017 season. KB Racing showed that they did not lose a step on the Pro Stock competition over the off-season, and it was a great showing by Jason Line and Greg Anderson to qualify 1-2 and face off in the final. Congratulations to both, and to John Force Racing’s Courtney Force for reaching the Funny Car final for the 19th time in her career. The impressive testing times that she posted in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS carried over to Auto Club Raceway, and she and her teammates will compete for the title.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS:
Q: IT IS A REPRISE OF THE 2016 SEASON FOR THE KB CARS. THIS IS THE 14TH YEAR IN A ROW THAT YOU HAVE WON A RACE.
JASON LINE: “It is a cool way to start the season. I’m not into stats, but my dad is and that’s a cool one. He said, ‘Make sure you win Pomona and that way you keep the streak going.’ And I think Andrew Hines has the same amount of seasons. He’s obviously going to continue his winning ways. Any time you can come to Pomona and win is great, so I’m happy and a little bit relieved. It was just a great day for KB Racing, Summit and Chevy.”
Q: WAS THERE SOME SELF-DOUBT?
JASON LINE: “There’s always a little bit of self-doubt. You don’t know what everybody did in the off-season and to be able to come here and qualify 1-2 and finish 1-2 and have three cars in the semis is just a big deal. That’s where the relief is. You have to keep working.”
Q: YOU EVER FLIP A COIN AS TO WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE NEXT ROUND?
JASON LINE: “Greg (Anderson) usually wins anyway; he’s tough to beat. His record is quite a bit better than mine. If there’s one person I don’t want to race in the final round, though I do, it’s him. He wants to win more than any person I’ve ever met in my life. He’s very driven, very motivated. If I’m hiring a race car driver, he’s my guy.”
Q: YOU GUYS HAD A GOOD SENSE THAT YOU WOULD DO PRETTY GOOD THIS WEEKEND. YOU’RE WEREN’T HAVING ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS.
JASON LINE: “This off-season was more about refinement than coming up with an actual recipe, so it was a much different mind-set. But, again, you don’t know what everybody else is working on, and right now there are a lot of fast cars. Tanner Gray is going to be tough; he’s going to be very interesting. I enjoyed racing him.”
Q: DESCRIBE THE LAST RUN.
JASON LINE: “The last run against Greg was you know you have to be close to perfect on the tree of else you’re not going to beat him. I know how much power he has; he’s got the same stuff I have, so it’s really who lets their foot off first is your winner. That is a lot of pressure as a driver, which I don’t like. But today I was able to do a good job and get it done. It was a fun final round.”
Q: YOU THINK SOME OF THE POWER OF THE CLASS WILL RETURN NOW THAT THE ELITE CARS ARE SHOWING SOME PROMISE?
JASON LINE: “It was more fun last year for sure without them in Chevys. It’s absolutely going to change. They are going to be tough.”
Q: YOU GUYS ARE SO DRIVEN, HOW CAN YOU SAY (COMPETITORS) ARE CATCHING UP?
JASON LINE: “I feel we’re behind. I think it’s a good way to stay motivated.”
Q: THE CLASS HAS TIGHTENED UP CONSIDERABLY.
JASON LINE: “It’s going to be more like it was back in the carburetor days. The package has tightened up considerably. You only have some much latitude to work. It’s a naturally-aspirated engine so the devil is going to be in the details, and who ever does the best job of tuning the chassis and engine is going to be your winner or the fastest car. Every once in awhile is works out for me.”