CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS
WILD HORSE PASS MOTORSPORTS PARK AT CHANDLER, ARIZONA
FEB. 26, 2017
Chevrolet Records Pro Stock Victory, Top Fuel Runner-up in Arizona
• KB Racing continues to roll as Greg Anderson picks up Pro Stock career win 87
• Chevrolet Pro Stock drivers have won every elimination round this young season
• Brittany Force is runner-up for the second year in a row at Wild Horse Pass
• John Force Racing closes to five Funny Car round wins of 2,500
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2017) – Greg Anderson’s 87th career Pro Stock win is just as satisfying as his maiden victory in 2001.
Anderson, the No. 2 qualifier for the NHRA Arizona Nationals in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, closed to 10 victories of Warren Johnson for first on the all-time Pro Stock list by defeating Drew Skillman in the final with a run of 6.547 seconds to the No. 9 qualifier’s 6.565.
Chevrolet won 23 of the 24 Pro Stock races in 2016, and Chevrolet drivers have won every elimination round matchup through the first two races of the National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
The Bowtie Brand also was strong in Top Fuel competition on race day at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Brittany Force, driving the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, nearly claimed her fourth career victory but lost on a holeshot to Leah Pritchett in the third all-female Top Fuel finals matchup in NHRA history.
Like the 2016 season, a KB Racing Camaro has won the first two races of the season. Anderson, the runner-up to Jason Line in the opener two weeks earlier in Pomona, California, has advanced to the final round the past three events bridging the 2016 and ’17 seasons. Anderson said the competition – Chevrolet drivers earned the top 10 qualifier spots and were separated by five-hundredths of a second – is “the best it’s ever been.”
“Next week I’ll work as hard as I can to get 88,” the four-time Pro Stock champion said. “At this age and this stage of my career, it’s harder yet to win. Some of the cats in this class are 40 years younger than me. I’ll keep digging. When you find your way to the finish line four times on Sunday with the competition the way it is, it’s just a great feeling to see that win light come on.
“That performance advantage we had in the early part of last year has gone away. It’s going to be a battle royal all year long, and I hope my heart’s up to it.”
Anderson narrowly defeated 17-year-old Tanner Gray, who was competing in his second Pro Stock event, in one of the semifinals. Gray was the No. 3 qualifier in the Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS. Skillman ousted Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Elite Chevrolet Camaro SS) on a holeshot in the other semi.
Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) also claimed a holeshot victory over reigning Pro Stock champion and No. 1 qualifier Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the second round. Line won the NHRA Arizona Nationals last year – the first of his eight victories during the season that led to his third world title.
Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS), Shane Gray (Gray Manufacturing Tech Chevrolet Camaro SS), Bo Butner (Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Line were first-round Pro Stock winners.
Force, the No. 7 qualifier, matched her career-best elapsed time of 3.676 seconds in the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations. She dispatched reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in the next round and defeated Tony Schumacher in the semifinals.
In a rematch of last year’s final at Wild Horse Pass, Force ran 3.704 seconds to Pritchett’s 3.705 in the final, but Pritchett’s .053 of a second reaction time – compared with Force’s .081 – secured the holeshot win for the second year in a row. The other all-female Top Fuel final pitted
Shirley Muldowney against Lucille Lee in 1982.
“It’s easy to get down on yourself when you go out on the final – and the same setup as last year,” Force said. “It’s pretty ironic how it worked out. But if you look at the bigger picture, we went to the final, we moved up quite a bit in points. We struggled coming in here, so to turn it around and have a great car and move up to third in points, that’s something to be proud of.
“I was feeling good, feeling confidence. I have a great team behind me, but it just wasn’t our day. I was slow on the light, and she happened to get us.”
John Force Racing moved within five Funny Car round wins of 2,500 as No. 9 qualifier Robert Hight won his opening race in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. He lost in the quarterfinals to No. 1 qualifier and new track elapsed time record-holder Tommy Johnson Jr. in the quarterfinals.
Courtney Force, who held the track elapsed time and speed records for about 30 hours and was the No. 2 qualifier in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, fell in the first round of eliminations as No.15 qualifier Jim Campbell picked up his second career Funny Car round win.
John Force, driving the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, also fell in the first round to No. 5 qualifier Tim Wilkerson, who recorded a career-best 3.844-second pass. Force, who advanced to the finals of the NHRA Arizona Nationals last year and has won the event eight times, was the No. 12 qualifier.
All four John Force Racing entries will test at Wild Horse Pass on Feb. 27.
“I’m not where I want to be,” said John Force, the 16-time Funny Car champion. “Even if I won this race, I wouldn’t be where I want to be. We want to keep getting better, that’s the key.”
Next on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule is the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 17-19 at Gainesville Raceway in Florida. Chevrolet swept the three professional categories it competes in, with Brittany Force winning Top Fuel, teammate Hight claiming the Funny Car win, and Greg Anderson racing to the Pro Stock victory. FOX Sports 1 will telecast eliminations and finals live.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to Greg Anderson and the KB Racing team for winning the Pro Stock event at Wild Horse Pass. The competition is tighter than ever among the Chevrolet lineup, with five-hundredths of a second separating the Nos. 1 and 10 qualifiers, and young drivers such as Tannery Gray, Drew Skillman, Vincent Nobile, and Erica Enders showing they’ll be a force. Brittany Force also had another scintillating race day at the track, falling short in the Top Fuel final for the second year in a row. In 2016, she went on to win the next event and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again next month at Gainesville.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier, 87th career win):
Q: TAKE US THROUGH THE DAY.
GREG ANDERSON: “Brutal day, but I knew it was going to be. The class is awesome. You read the internet stuff that says the class is going away, it’s dying, it’s losing appeal. This class is as strong as it ever was and we have new blood in the class right now. I think every race I had today was decided by less than a foot. You just get better racing out there. It’s a battle royal every time you stage the car. Anybody can win, and that’s what the fans like. Bottom line is we had a very slim advantage and any mistake you’re going to go home. We didn’t make that small mistake. Rob Downing, my crew chief, did a fantastic job with the race cars today. We don’t have the advantage like we had last year. We’re just out-racing them with decisions on race day. It’s going to be an exciting year, a fantastic year. The new kid, Tanner Gray, is full of confidence and he’s going to win races. I just didn’t want to have it happen this early, against me. By a whisker, I held him off (in the semifinals). He can drive the wheels off the car.”
Q: HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN HOW KB HAS BEEN ABLE TO ACHIEVE THIS LEVEL AND MAINTAIN IT?
GREG ANDERSON: “It’s a 100 percent team effort. You can’t win a Pro Stock race without having everything go perfect over the weekend. We just found a way to make fewer mistakes, and that’s just a hat’s off to the entire Rob Downing-led crew. It starts at the top with Ken Black, who hand-picked all these people. He’s got the best and they do a great job. To some people, it looks easy. It’s not easy. We just somehow race as tough as we can race. Some days it’s your day and some days it’s not. You just have to make the hay when you can. When you have a small advantage like we’ve had these last 12 months, you have to make hay. That performance advantage has gone away. I kept telling people it was going away. It’s going to be a battle royal all year long, and I hope my heart’s up to it.”
Q: DO YOU EVER CALL BACK ON 2013 AND 2014, WHICH WERE NOT GREAT YEARS?
GREG ANDERSON: “All the time. We had a great year last year, and we come out this year and there’s at least a dozen cars that can win the race. You’re scared that you won’t win again. It might be your last one. There’s nothing you can take for granted. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to win again. That’s how I think and how I do this deal, and I try as hard as I can every week because you just never know when your last win is going to come.”
Q: IS WIN NO. 87 AS SATISFYING AS YOUR FIRST?
GREG ANDERSON: “Next week I’ll work as hard as I can to get 88. At this age and this stage of my career, it’s harder yet to win. Some of the cats in this class are 40 years younger than me. I get to lock horns with them, and I’m going to do the best job I can. And when I get to the point where I can’t compete anymore, I’ll know when it’s time to walk away. I hope that doesn’t come for a while, but you just never know. I’ll keep digging. When you find your way to the finish line four times on Sunday with the competition the way it is, it’s just a great feeling to see that win light come on.”