CHEVROLET IN NHRA
2023 PEP BOYS NHRA NATIONALS
MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY RACE REPORT
SEPTEMBER 18, 2023
CHEVROLET CAPTURES THREE WINS WITH ROBERT HIGHT, MATT HARTFORD, AND AARON STANFIELD IN THE RAIN-DELAYED 2023 PEP BOYS NHRA NATIONALS AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY
- Robert Hight, in his 100th final round, captured his 64th NHRA win over Chad Green on Monday in the delayed Pep Boys NHRA Nationals finals.
- Matt Hartford raced to a back-to-back Pro Stock victory over Chevrolet and KB Titan Racing teammate Kyle Koretsky, earning his third NHRA win of the season and eighth of his Pro Stock career.
- Hartford captured Chevrolet’s 377th Pro Stock victory and 258th in the Camaro body.
- Aaron Stanfield raced his way to FlexJet Factory Stock Showdown victory Sunday, earning his second win in the category this year and leaves Maple Grove Raceway with the points lead.
- Rain Sunday forced the semifinals and finals in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock to be completed Monday at Maple Grove Raceway.
- Representing Chevrolet at the top of the leaderboard Saturday evening after qualifying, Erica Enders (Pro Stock) qualified No.1 with her Friday night top lap of 6.494 ET at 211.13 MPH.
- Brittany Force (Top Fuel) led the way for the nitro cars after qualifying completed Saturday, with her fastest lap of 3.689 ET at 336.57 MPH, also the top speed of qualifications.
- Robert Hight (Funny Car) qualified No. 3 with his Friday night Q2 run of 3.879 ET at 329.32 MPH.
MOHNTON, Pennsylvania (September 18, 2023) – On a rain-delayed Monday finish to the 2023 Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Chevrolet, along with Robert Hight in Funny Car and Matt Hartford in Pro Stock, celebrated capturing two Wally trophies on the march towards a 28th Manufacturers Cup at Maple Grove Raceway.
Hight, driver of the Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, raced to his 64th career victory in his 100th final round, after defeating Jim Campbell (Round 1), Matt Hagan (Round 2), Ron Capps (semifinal), and Chad Green (final) on his way to the winner’s circle. With Green making a strong effort on his run of 3.928 ET at 327.27 MPH, Hight’s winning pass of 3.854 ET at 330.39 MPH captured the win light.
“You can look back to last year when we were leading the points coming into the Countdown,” said Hight. “We won this race, but we didn’t get (the championship) done in the end. We’re going to celebrate today. We’re going to have a blast, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re focused. This team’s coming into their own right at the right time. I need to thank (Cornwell Tools), AAA, Chevrolet, and Flav-R-Pac. That’s how we got here. We’re going to have some fun tonight, but we’re going to get our act together and we’re going to win Charlotte and celebrate the points lead.”
In Pro Stock, Matt Hartford, driver of the Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro SS Pro Stock, and KB Titan Racing teammate Kyle Koretsky, driver of the Michael Waltrip Brewing/Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Pro Stock, went head-to-head in the finals in only the second time they’ve faced each other on race day. Hartford, who just got his appendix removed unexpectedly this week, raced to the win light and Wally trophy at Maple Grove Raceway after Koretsky faced issues on the start to Hartford’s 6.054 ET run at 208.26 MPH.
Capturing his third victory this season, and his eight Pro Stock win, Hartford said of the win, “You get your appendix out and seven days later, you’re in a race car. The car wouldn’t run, and we had all kinds of electrical issues,” reflected Hartford on the wild event weekend. “Ron Blessler, thank you for letting us use your shop and work on our car. We really appreciate it. You know, Rob was making sure we had that ability. Man, it’s been a great car and my crew is awesome. Eddie Guarnaccia is a genius. Thank you to everybody.”
With a Pro Stock field separated and set by just 0.082 as qualifying concluded Saturday night, Erica Enders, driver of the Johnson’s Horsepower Garage Melling Chevrolet Camaro SS Pro Stock, captured her third No. 1 Qualifier of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series Season and 32nd of her career, Enders was on the hunt for her 47th NHRA victory, 46th in Pro Stock, to become the winningest woman in series history.
Aaron Stanfield pulled double-duty once again this weekend in both Pro Stock and FlexJet Factory Stock Showdown, racing his way to the Factory Stock final and facing event No. 1 Qualifier Del Holbrook. With his pass of 7.671 ET at 165.46 MPH to Holbrook’s 9.845 ET at 128.11 MPH, Stanfield hoisted his second Wally trophy of the Factory Stock Showdown season, and his 23rd national event victory. Stanfield additionally leaves Reading with 610 points and a 152-point lead over Stephen Bell in second.
“I’ve got to thank my guys,” said Stanfield. “We work really hard at the shop, and we’ve been down and out a little bit, but we’ve been working hard and keeping our head down and it paid off this weekend.”
Defending event winner in Top Fuel, Austin Prock, driver of the Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 8 with a solid effort of 3.728 ET at 329.83 MPH in qualifying. Despite making a strong effort in Round 1, Prock fell to veteran Tony Schumacher and had to settle for an early end at Maple Grove Raceway.
Still seeking that elusive first win this year in Top Fuel and to add to her 16 career Top Fuel victories, Brittany Force, driver of the Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet Top Fuel dragster, defeated Jacob Opatrny before being forced to an early end to her race day by falling to Leah Pruett in a close race of B. Force’s 3.768 ET to Pruett’s 3.744.
“Leaving Maple Grove Raceway in the sixth position after a second-round exit,” reflected B. Force. “We qualified No. 2, picked up eight bonus points and are still well within the championship fight. Looking at our season as a whole to now coming into the Countdown, we made some good progress this weekend. It’s still anybody’s game this early on and this team will fight it out until the end. We are ready to get to Charlotte and see what this team can do.”
In Funny Car, it was also an early exit for the 16-time champion, legend, and John Force Racing team owner John Force, driver of the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, facing a Round 2 elimination by Ron Capps in a tight race separated by 0.054 seconds or 2.22 MPH.
With five races remaining in the 2023 season, NHRA next heads to zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C. for the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 22-24, 2023. Broadcast of Sunday’s eliminations air at 2 p.m. ET on FS1. Coverage streams live throughout the weekend on NHRA.tv, and is available via AppleTV, Android TV, and Roku devices. FlexJet Factory Stock Showdown returns to competition at the NHRA Midwest Nationals in late September at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill.
Today’s broadcast of the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals will air Monday evening, Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
Austin Prock, driver of the Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet Top Fuel dragster for John Force Racing:
“Not the day we expected for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team. Dropped a couple cylinders down track and just didn’t have enough for the first-round win. We’re keeping our heads up. We know that with just one good weekend we can be right back in it. Luckily we get to turn around in just a couple days and go at it again in Charlotte.”
John Force, driver of the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car for John Force Racing:
“Shorter weekend than we wanted for this PEAK Chevy. Have to thank the fans for packing it in here and the owners the Koretsky Family, great event, sold out days. We dodged some of the rain, NHRA worked hard to try to get it all done,” Force said. “We’ll be ready for next weekend, heading to Charlotte. Still have a shot, just need a couple good days.”
Aaron Stanfield, driver of the Janac Brothers Chevrolet COPO Camaro FlexJet Factory Stock Showdown car:
“It’s right up our alley. It’s factory cars, heads up racing. I got to give a ‘hats off’ to Reading. I haven’t always done very well here, but man, it’s a heck of a facility. The Koretsky family, we’re lucky to have a family like that to give us a place to race at. I’ve got to thank my guys. We work really hard at the shop, and we’ve been down and out a little bit, but we’ve been working hard and keeping our head down and it paid off this weekend.”
Camrie Caruso, driver of the Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro SS Pro Stock for KB Titan Racing:
“Getting that first Countdown round win definitely helps. I didn’t like seeing my teammate Dallas Glenn go out so early, but the points are going to tighten up now. We are looking forward to getting to Charlotte and qualifying better and going rounds on Sunday. There are five races left and we want to do everything we can to try and win this championship. We had him on the tree and at the 1,000 but unfortunately when these cars get out of shape you have to get off the gas. If you don’t you going to end up over the wall or on your roof. We got our race car back after Q4 and I didn’t want to do anything to mess that up. We were obviously struggling but now I feel like we have our race car back and we’re ready to go to Charlotte.”
ROBERT HIGHT, DRIVER OF THE CORNWELL TOOLS/AAA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS FUNNY CAR for John Force Racing – Maple Grove Raceway Winner’s Press Conference:
YOUR THIRD WIN OF THE SEASON, 64TH CAREER WIN AND IN YOUR 100TH FINAL ROUND AND SECOND STRAIGHT WIN AT MAPLE GROVE. A WILD WEEKEND THIS WEEKEND WITH SO MANY VARIABLES, TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEKEND…
“It was (pretty special). Leaving Brainerd, I felt we kind of got this car back in order and where it needed to be. You’ve got to give credit to NHRA. Those guys work so hard this weekend to give us a race track, and you’re fighting Mother Nature. That’s pretty tough to do, but they did a great job. This track was throw down. It was as good as you could get. It’s tricky when it gets like that. It wants to shake. If you don’t after it, it’s going to shake and come loose. In the final, it rattled. It got my attention. I thought ‘Oh, no.” It went through it and made a great run. But NHRA deserves, and the Safety Safari deserves, a big pat on the back for this weekend. Now they’ve got to truck on down the road to Charlotte and get ready to do it again. Our car is running good right at the right time. It’s hard to get too excited about this. We did exactly what we needed to do this weekend, but it’s hard to get too excited because we came in here last year and won here and didn’t get it done in the end. We’ve got to stay focused and move on to Charlotte. We’ll put this one behind us; hopefully, we learned some things that’ll help us in Charlotte. I haven’t even looked at the weather or what that’s going to be. We’ll keep our heads down because it’s not getting any easier. This win, I knocked off from the second round to the final three Countdown contenders. You go up there against Chad Green, you don’t lay-up. That car has ran a lot of 80’s this weekend. To knock off (Matt) Hagan and (Ron) Capps, it can go the other way. The Hagan race, that was one of the closest races in history, maybe, in Funny Car. That’s insane. We can’t get too carried away yet. We’ve got to go win some more races. My opinion is, you’re going to have to win at least three in the Countdown, maybe four, if you want to be the champ in the end.”
YOU SAID YOU FELT THE CAR RATTLE. WAS THAT EARLY IN THE RUN, OR AT THE END?
“Probably at 100 feet it had a little right, right in ‘the nervous area,’ the ‘shake zone.’ It was a little nervous, but it went through it. Jimmy (Prock) was really trying to pick it up from the previous run. It ran an 86 and we ran 85 in the final. I probably rolled it in a hundredth. So, maybe, it ran 84 in the final. Job well done. I’m kind of bummed Cornwell had to leave. This is their first win with us in Funny Car, and we’ve been so close this year and didn’t get it done for them. Wish they could’ve been here to celebrate. Those guys work really hard to behind the scenes to build great tools. They deserve trophies and an ‘atta boy’ for standing behind us.”
WHEN YOU HAVE A WIN LIKE THAT, YOU GET THE WALLY TODAY. HOW DO YOU KEEP THE TEAM FOCUSED AND LEARNING MORE TO THE NEXT TRACK?
“You have to stay humble and you have to remind them it could’ve went either. A race that close could go either direction. If just anything was off, the driver or the car, anything, it goes the other way and he gets the win, and he may be sitting here with the points lead. You can use that as a little confidence, but you have to put it behind you and keep (at it). We have to work hard. This is the toughest Funny Car has ever been and, like I said, it’s going to take some major, major work to win this championship. One down, five to go. I’d give us an A+ for the weekend, but we’ve got to put it behind us.”
THIS IS TWO IN A ROW FOR YOU AT MAPLE GROVE. WHAT’S BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS AT THIS TRACK SPECIFICALLY?
“The conditions are always good. Great racing surface, great racetrack. Love seeing the fans here and the stands full. This place is amazing, and there is a lot of history here. Love coming back here to the East Coast and race. One of the things I regret in my career is I never go to win Englishtown, another great track with a lot of history. Luckily now, I’ve got to win this quite a few times. The fans are great. We’ve tested here before and it got us out of a funk when we were fighting for a championship, so I love this place. Everything about it.”
WHAT’S THE MINDSET ON A MONDAY, STOPPING AND STARTING YESTERDAY. HOW DO YOU GET READY ON A MONDAY SITUATION LIKE THIS?
“It’s hard to do. Yesterday, we were in and out of the car three or four times with the rain. You don’t just get in one of these cars and get suited up, belted in, and go up there and make a run. You’ve got to get mentally prepared. You can’t overdo it and get too ramped up, but you have to be on the ragged edge to cut a light and get this thing down a racetrack. So, this rollercoaster of ups and downs all day long, you know, I was exhausted last night. You’ve got to stick with it. You have to do the same things you did today, tomorrow. It worked out. It’s like starting first round again. You have to think overnight about your opponent, and my opponent was Ron Capps. That’s a lot to think about. His car is running well, he’s a good driver. He’s the defending champ. I think I’ve won Maple Grove one other time on a Monday. It’s not the same when you win and there’s not a huge crowd and a bunch of fans here. Usually, you look at the winners circle and there’s thousands of people, but a win is a win.”
MATT HARTFORD, DRIVER OF THE TOTAL SEAL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS PRO STOCK CAR for KB Titan Racing – Maple Grove Raceway Winner’s Press Conference:
TAKING THE POINTS LEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS CAREER, YOU PICKED UP THE SECOND STRAIGHT VICTORY, THIRD WIN THIS SEASON AND EIGHT CAREER WINS. COMING OFF INDY, YOU WENT THROUGH A LOT TO GET HERE. HOW REWARDING IS THIS WIN?
“The last week and a half has not been fun until today. It’s not every day you come off of a win, and the next thing you know a couple of days later, you’re getting put out and they’re gutting you in three places taking your appendix out. Not that it’s a huge surgery, but still you’re going under the knife. Trying to explain to the doctor that I’m getting into a racecar, and they’re discussing that I’m not, I’m saying I am, it’s just up to you to decide how comfortable I am going to be getting into the race car. So, we got through all of that and I got my wife convinced I was still going to Reading, and that I wasn’t going to work on the car, well, our car didn’t run after Q1. So, all I did was work on the car all weekend. Our team worked harder this weekend than we have in years. It was a grueling weekend for everyone. Emotions were high. The FOX video of my wife is awesome. We’re going to have to figure out what that tantrum was called. Our team pulled together. Eddie Guarnaccia, Chris Ingleson, Adam Basham, Amber, my wife, we all pulled together. Jerry Haas, our engine builder and truck driver, they all never gave up faith. He said we were the car to beat. Luckily, things went our way. We had a good, nice, break in Round 2. Got through that to get to the semifinals, and we had a really good car today.”
NOW YOU’RE ON A STREAK. HOW DOES THIS FEEL KNOWING WITH FIVE RACES LEFT IN THE SEASON?
“I said last week at Indy there were 24 more win lights we need this year, and now there are 20. We’re not giving up. We’ve got a great car. I don’t think we have the quickest car in this type of air and these types of conditions. It’s obvious other cars were definitely correcting better than in the past in these conditions. We’re going into Charlotte which is going to be a lot different of conditions, track conditions for sure. I think we have a car that’s good in all conditions. If I keep doing my job and keep my head on straight, I think we walk out of here with a white hat after five more races.”
WAS IT EVER A QUESTION THAT YOU COULDN’T RACE THIS WEEK BECAUSE OF YOUR APPENDIX, AND HOW WERE YOU FEELING ROLLING INTO THIS WEEKEND?
“It was never, in my mind a question. Now, the doctors and my wife have differences of opinions with me, but at that point in time, I did look in the rule book to see what the protocol was on a driver change if possible, but unless it was COVID-related, you couldn’t do it. At that point in time, after the surgery, I told them you’re not even keeping me – I’m going home and starting my recovery. I’m such an idiot three days later, I started going back to work just to keep myself acclimated of what we were going to need to do. But no, there was never a question I was missing Reading.”
DID YOU HAVE TO DO ANYTHING PHYSICALLY DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND?
“My answer to everybody was ‘I feel great.’ Got out of the car, my crew chief gave me a hug and said ‘I’ll be gentle,’ and I told him ‘I’m freaking sore.’”
WHAT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT THE CAR ISSUES? ARE YOU ABLE TO SHARE WHAT HAPPENED SATURDAY GOING INTO SUNDAY?
“It started in Q1, the car was misfiring during Q1. We were slow for the session. I mean, we went a 54 but that was slow compared to what we thought. In Q2, it shut off when I put it in second gear and lost fuel pressure. Q3 and Q4, I couldn’t even do a burnout because fuel pressure would go to zero as soon as I put load on the engine. We swapped everything in the car every run thinking we had it fixed, proving that we didn’t. I did go to NHRA and ask if we could go offsite to a gentleman to work on the wiring in our car because he had much better lighting than us, and we did. We started to do some test burnouts and were still having the same problem. We continued to work on the car, and we thought we found something that gave us a good indication of what was wrong, and we definitely had an electrical wiring issue in the car. How that came about from Indy to here, we’re still undetermined but we switched everything in the car – fuel pumps, water pumps, starters, wiring, ignition boxes, cutoffs, batteries – all the way back through on Sunday morning when we got here. We were the first team in the pits, and we were here when it was still dark. Swapped everything in the car and went up for Round 1 and said there’s nothing left to switch but the driver.”
HOW DOES THIS POINTS LEAD GIVE YOU THE CONFIDENCE HEADING INTO THE FINAL FIVE IN THE COUNTDOWN?
“One round at time. We just need to turn on win light after win light. The points will figure out themselves. If we turn on 20 win lights, the points don’t matter.”
YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS ON MONDAYS BEFORE. WHAT’S THE MINDSET WHEN YOU GO THROUGH A DAY LIKE YESTERDAY, HAVE TO COME BACK, AND BE ON IT RIGHT AWAY?
“That’s a great question. I said this morning when I was pulling in, this is no different than we pull in on a Sunday. I hate first round, because that’s what it was today was first round.”
Round 1 Recap:
No. 2 Brittany Force defeated No. 15 Jacob Opatrny with her run of 3.714 ET at 333.25 MPH to Opatrny’s 4.328 ET at 203.92 MPH.
No. 8 Austin Prock fell to No. 9 Tony Schumacher with his pass of 3.716 ET at 329.91 MPH to Schumacher’s 3.701 ET at 330.88 MPH.
No. 7 John Force defeated No. 10 Cruz Pedregon with a chase to the win light after both cars smoked the tires mid-track, with Force running 4.657 ET at 277.37 MPH to Pedregon’s 5.432 ET at 131.19 MPH.
No. 3 Robert Hight defeated No. 14 Jim Campbell with his run of 3.875 ET at 331.20 MPH to Campbell’s 6.603 ET at 98.93 MPH.
No. 1 Erica Enders defeated No. 16 Val Smeland with her 6.497 ET pass at 210.83 MPH to Smeland’s 6.604 ET at 209.10 MPH.
No. 8 Dallas Glenn fell to No. 9 Christian Cuadra with identical ET’s of 6.539 seconds at Glenn’s 208.81 MPH to Cuadra’s 210.31 MPH.
No. 4 Greg Anderson fell to No. 13 Matt Hartford with his run of 6.555 ET at 209.46 MPH to Hartford’s 6.535 ET at 209.49 MPH.
No. 5 Deric Kramer fell to No. 12 Camrie Caruso with his pass of 10.932 ET at 82.16 MPH to Caruso’s 6.537 ET at 209.36 MPH.
No. 2 Troy Coughlin, Jr. defeated No. 15 Eric Latino with his run of 6.512 ET at 210.08 MPH to Latino’s 17.594 ET at 76.83 MPH facing issues on his run.
No. 7 Bo Butner, III defeated No. 10 Fernando Cuadra, Jr. with his run of 6.556 ET at 210.64 MPH to Cuadra, Jr.’s 6.547 ET at 210.08 MPH.
No. 3 Aaron Stanfield defeated No. 14 Chris McGaha with his pass of 6.524 ET at 210.90 MPH to McGaha’s 6.583 ET at 209.79 MPH.
No. 6 Kyle Koretsky defeated No. 11 Jerry Tucker with a pass of 6.531 ET at 209.07 MPH to Tucker’s 6.557 ET at 209.04 MPH.
B. Force fell to Pruett with her pass of 3.678 ET at 317.05 MPH to Pruett’s 3.744 ET at 324.20 MPH.
J. Force fell to Capps on his run of 3.953 ET at 328.62 MPH to Capps’ 3.899 ET at 326.40 MPH.
Hight defeated Hagan with his pass of 3.852 ET at 327.66 MPH to Hagan’s 3.859 ET at 335.48 MPH.
Enders defeated Cuadra with her run of 6.503 ET at 210.24 MPH to Cuadra’s 6.555 ET at 209.95 MPH.
Hartford defeated Caruso with his pass of 6.542 ET at 209.30 MPH to Caruso’s 6.624 ET at 186.77 MPH.
Coughlin, Jr. defeated Butner, III on a run of 6.510 ET at 209.62 MPH to Butner’s 6.545 ET at 208.75 MPH.
Stanfield fell to Koretsky on his pass of 6.525 ET at 209.36 MPH to Koretsky’s 6.537 ET at 208.65 MPH.
Hight defeated Capps after Capps smoked the tires to Hight’s strong 3.861 ET run at 330.31 MPH.
Koretsky defeated Coughlin, Jr. 6.557 ET at 207.27 MPH to Coughlin, Jr.’s 6.547 ET at 209.04 MPH.
Hartford defeated Enders after Enders faced issues on the start to Hartford’s 6.541 ET at 208.97 MPH.
Hight defeated Green with his run of 3.854 ET at 330.39 MPH to Green’s 3.928 ET at 327.27 MPH.
Hartford defeated Koretsky with his pass of 6.532 ET at 208.91 MPH to Koretsky’s 7.133 ET at 208.26 MPH.
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