Chevrolet-branded racers truly dominated during the 2017 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, an event that traditionally marks the season’s official opening for major drag racing events on the East Coast. A very spirited 48th annual version of the iconic race, which is hosted at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway featured a slew of Chevrolet racer highlights and victories.
Driving his PEAK Motor Oil and Coolant-sponsored 2017 Chevy Camaro SS Funny Car, it was living legend John Force scoring an enormously popular fan victory, which was the eighth career victory at Gainesville Raceway.
Force was pretty much unstoppable, winning the event from the pole position after anchoring the field with a 3.832 e.t. effort. After disposing of opponents Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, and Tommy Johnson Jr. in earlier rounds, Force handled the very inspiring international challenge of rookie nitro Funny Car driver Jonnie Lindberg (from Sweden) in the final, winning with a 3.928 e.t. at 328.14 mph.
For Force, the Gatornationals win was the 148th of his illustrious career, and during the event he also surpassed an amazing 2,500-career round wins milestone!
Driving another John Force Racing Camaro SS, Robert Hight, set both low e.t. and top speed of the event racing the Auto Club-sponsored car with a 3.828 e.t. and 334.82 mph.
The event’s Pro Stock title went to Chevrolet with Shane Gray winning for the first time this season and sixth of his career. Shane was able to power past fellow Chevy Camaro driver Greg Anderson in the final round winning with a 6.535 e.t. at 212.96 mph over Anderson’s 6.560 e.t. at 213.43 mph.
Pro Stock class racing at Gainesville was also a Chevrolet-dominated affair from a performance perspective with Jason Line’s 6.476 e.t. (low e.t.) and Greg Anderson’s 214.59 mph (top speed) being the best math yet seen within drag racing’s newer EFI-era for Pro Stockers.
The Gatornationals marked season event number one of five scheduled for the 2017 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown series, which is presented by SAM Tech.
Pennsylvania’s David Barton, who was the defending 2016 series champ is now a perfect two for two winning at Gainesville Raceway. Barton raced the Gary Wolkwitz-owned COPO Camaro to another convincing victory from the pole position for the second year running.
Barton was the number one qualifier with his 350ci-supercharged machine at 8.101 e.t., and he defeated Erica Enders, Stephen Bell, and Chuck Watson in the three-round eight-car qualified feature.
The SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown series showed off some great momentum as it attracted a record-sized 17 entries for Gainesville. There are four more scheduled events this season: Concord, North Carolina; Norwalk, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; and St. Louis, Missouri.
Chevy race teams also earned significant wins within the Gatornationals event’s Lucas Oil Sportsman class eliminators. Fred Allen (from Illinois) wheeled his 2005 Chevy S-10 to a win in Super Stock over a 64-car field as did Terry Nagel (from Michigan) racing his classic 1968 Camaro in Stock Eliminator over 75 other entries.
Colorado’s Annie Whiteley won the event’s Top Alcohol Funny Car title racing her Y-Not Racing 2016 Chevy Camaro, while the inaugural NHRA Top Sportsman World Champ from 2015, Jeffery Barker (from Georgia) prevailed to take that event title in his nitrous-assisted 2006 Chevy Cobalt.
For more photo highlights—check out our extensive 2017 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals gallery below!