NHRA BRISTOL: CHRIS McGAHA POWERS HARLOW SAMMONS RACING CAMARO TO ANOTHER FINAL

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NHRA BRISTOL: CHRIS McGAHA POWERS HARLOW SAMMONS RACING CAMARO TO ANOTHER FINAL

CHRIS McGAHA
HARLOW SAMMONS RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO
RACE REPORT – NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS
BRISTOL DRAGWAY – BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
JUNE 19-21, 2015
 

NHRA BRISTOL: CHRIS McGAHA POWERS HARLOW SAMMONS RACING CAMARO TO ANOTHER FINAL

           
BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 21, 2015) – What a weekend for Chris McGaha and the Harlow Sammons Racing NHRA Pro Stock team. On Father's Day at the 15th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, McGaha piloted his swift 'Silver Bullet' to a final round finish that was his second of the season – and of his career. McGaha, of Odessa, Texas, remains No. 4 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock points, but with every race he is inching closer to his competitors who are occupying those top spots.
 
During qualifying, McGaha again had a car to be reckoned with. His Harlow Sammons Racing Chevrolet Camaro was at the top of the pack on Friday, but holding the provisional pole wasn't quite what the surging team had intended.
 
McGaha had started from the No. 1 spot three times earlier in the year – including last weekend in Epping – and they weren't sure that was the path that would lead them to the final round and a coveted win. Admitting that they would be happier to start from a somewhat lower position on the ladder, the team got their wish and started No. 3 on Sunday in Bristol.
 
"At the beginning of the day I felt like we had a chance to get to the final," said McGaha, whose first final was in Houston just five races ago. "But to be honest, I didn't drive very well in the first round, or the second or third round, for that matter. I didn't drive well all day, I'll admit it, but the car covered me. That gives me confidence going to the next race."
 
Crew chief Brian "Lump" Self, McGaha, dad Lester McGaha, and crewmen Steven Hinojos and Mike Stryker hustled to make the quick turnaround times after congratulatory high-fives were exchanged. According to McGaha, "Just like Houston, everyone kept doing their part and picking away."
 
In the first round of eliminations, the Harlow Sammons Chevy Camaro put a brilliant 6.678-second pass at 207.24 mph on the scoreboard, and it held as low elapsed time of eliminations. Kenny Delco was sent home on a 6.750, 204.51. For round two, McGaha was again the quickest of the round in his defeat of Vincent Nobile. McGaha's 6.697, 206.73 snuffed out Nobile's 6.731, 206.29.
 
The semifinal round pitted McGaha against Jonathan Gray, who is notorious for leaving his opponents on the starting line. This time, however, the young gun left .020-second too quick and turned on the red light. His foul start sent McGaha ahead to the final round on a 6.731, 205.82. Without lane choice over Erica Enders, McGaha had his work cut out for him – but he and Team Harlow Sammons zeroed in and picked up the pace with a 6.689 at 207.46. Unfortunately, their opponent was just a bit quicker and won the round on a 6.685, 206.95.
 
The final with Enders was actually a rematch of the Houston final in which the outcome was the same.
 
"I'm going to beat her," said McGaha. "One of these days, I'm gonna get it done. But we aren't disappointed at all, absolutely not. We're more motivated than ever, and it feels so good to know that I got back to a final round. I got one chance in Houston, and I got a second chance here – so we know how to get there now, and we're going to keep trying to get there each time. Eventually, one of these will come our way."

McGaha will next compete at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, July 2-5, 2015. 
 
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS CHEVROLET CAMARO
Qualified: No. 1
ELIMINATIONS RESULTS
FIRST ROUND: CHRIS McGAHA (6.678-second at 207.24 mph) def. Kenny Delco (6.750, 204.51)
SECOND ROUND: McGAHA (6.697, 206.73) def. Vincent Nobile (6.731, 206.29)
SEMIFINALS: McGAHA (6.731, 205.82) def. Jonathan Gray (6.718, 205.60)
FINAL: Erica Enders (6.685, 206.95) def. 6.689, 207.46
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 6.669 seconds, 206.54 mph (Session 1); 6.647 seconds, 206.67 mph (Session 2)
 
2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Pro Stock Championship Points
(following Bristol, race 11 of 24)
1.  Erica Enders, 964
2.  Greg Anderson, 950
3.  Jason Line, 828
4.  Chris McGaha, 750
5.  Allen Johnson, 588
6.  Shane Gray, 583
7.  Drew Skillman, 573
8.  Larry Morgan, 570
9.  Vincent Nobile, 561
10. Rodger Brogdon, 526
11.  Jonathan Gray, 513
--30--

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ANOTHER PROVISIONAL POLE FOR CHRIS McGAHA ON FRIDAY IN BRISTOL

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ANOTHER PROVISIONAL POLE FOR CHRIS McGAHA ON FRIDAY IN BRISTOL

CHRIS McGAHA
HARLOW SAMMONS RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO
FRIDAY QUALIFYING – NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS
BRISTOL DRAGWAY – BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
JUNE 19-21, 2015
 

ANOTHER PROVISIONAL POLE FOR CHRIS McGAHA ON FRIDAY IN BRISTOL

           
BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 19, 2015) – Chris McGaha and the Harlow Sammons Racing Pro Stock team have started from the top of the pack three times so far this season, with McGaha earning the No. 1 qualifier position in Gainesville, Charlotte, and last weekend in Epping. So far at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, they are on chart to do it again and earn their fourth No. 1 of the year. They ended the first day of the event in possession of the provisional pole.
 
Last weekend in Epping at the New England Nationals, McGaha ran the table in qualifying, but their Camaro ran into trouble on raceday when they set out to chase that trophy that they so desire. The truth of the matter is that McGaha and his Harlow Sammons Racing team weren't actually planning to grab that top spot again this weekend in Bristol and were going to try a different approach with the hope of increasing their chances for success on Sunday.
 
"We were expecting everyone to turn up the wick, but they didn't – and here we are," said McGaha, who was third quickest in the first session with a 6.669-second pass at 206.54 mph and earned a bonus point. In the later session, he clocked a 6.647, 206.67 to grab three bonus points and the top spot. "The conditions did get a little bit better because the track started to cool off. We went up there conservative on the first run because we were trying not to jinx ourselves and be No. 1, but here we are. We stepped on it a little bit figuring everyone else would, too, but it is what it is."
 
Although racing under the lights is a lot of fun and a great show for the fans, McGaha says that the truly useful data for Sunday will likely be acquired on Saturday, when conditions are closer to what raceday will bring. The driver of the "Silver Bullet" Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro is uncertain as to whether or not his current lofty spot in the qualifying order will hold, but he isn't altogether concerned.
 
"I wanted to get No. 1 at least once in my life and career; I had that ambition," said McGaha. "I was able to do that in Phoenix, and we were happy about that. But now it's becoming almost a common occurrence for us, and it seems like we need to change our pace a little more for Sunday. We might stay No. 1 tomorrow if we're running in the heat of the day, but you never really know. If we don't, you aren't going to see me shed a tear. But if it does hold, I'll take my No. 1 qualifier plaque from K&N, smile, and enjoy it."
 
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS CHEVROLET CAMARO
Qualified: No. 1
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 6.669 seconds, 206.54 mph (Session 1); 6.647 seconds, 206.67 mph (Session 2)
 
Event Schedule (all times Eastern)
Saturday, June 20:                  Two qualifying rounds, 12:30 PM & 3 PM
Sunday, June 21:                    Final eliminations starting with Top Fuel at 12 PM
 
Television Coverage (all coverage on ESPN2, all times Eastern)
Saturday, June 20:                  Qualifying, 8:00 PM. – 10:00 PM
Sunday, June 21:                    LIVE! Eliminations from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM 
 

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McGAHA REACHES FIRST FINAL ROUND WITH EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE AT HOUSTON NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS

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McGAHA REACHES FIRST FINAL ROUND WITH EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE AT HOUSTON NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS

HOUSTON, Texas (April 26, 2015) – Chris McGaha and the Harlow Sammons Racing team sure love Texas. Frustratingly, however, the lifelong Odessa natives had never had a ton of Pro Stock success there before – but the 28th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway changed all that. On Sunday in Houston, McGaha raced to the first Pro Stock final round of his career with a well-tuned machine and some of the best reaction times he's clocked all season long.
 
The Harlow Samons team qualified in the No. 7 position – not their highest position this year but still a respectable start, and one that came with lane choice in the first round of eliminations. In the other lane for that first-round match was another former Competition Eliminator competitor, Richard Freeman. McGaha was first off the starting line and first to the finish, illuminating the win light with a 6.564, 210.90 to his opponent's 6.630, 208.68.
 
Next in his line of fire was Shane Gray, the No. 2 qualifier. McGaha was on his game in their head-to-head meeting, launching off the starting line with a crisp .019-second reaction time and flying to a 6.575 at 210.28 that shut out his challenger's quicker 6.567, 209.75 on a holeshot that catapulted the Harlow Sammons Racing Silver Bullet Chevrolet Camaro to its third semifinal round of the season.
 
There stood none other than Greg Anderson, a quick leaver by nature and a four-time Pro Stock world champ with 75 national event wins. As expected, Anderson clocked in with a fast .010 reaction time, but McGaha was already gone with a blistering .002 that allowed him to stay ahead the entire way down the track, finally sealing the deal with a 6.575, 210.28 to shut down a 6.567, 209.75. Although he most certainly had victory on his mind heading into that round, McGaha in no way imagined it happening in that manner.
 
"I must have been psyching myself up without realizing it, but I always know that when I get in the later rounds, I seem to do better – it just started earlier today," said McGaha, who earned the first round-win of his Pro Stock career over Anderson in Dallas in 2011. "It worked, especially against Greg. I had no idea of what I'd done. I knew I was beating him, but I didn't have a clue it was because I left on him."
 
McGaha and his team were thrilled to have made it past the semifinals, finally. They had been to five career semis – two so far in 2015 – yet were unable to advance to the final until Houston. When the outcome was revealed, crew chief Brian "Lump" Self alerted McGaha over the radio.
 
"He was yelling and screaming, 'You're going to the final! You did it! I got on the radio and said, 'It's about time,' " said a relieved and enthusiastic McGaha. In the last round of the day, he continued to exhibit skill behind the wheel and launched right next to Erica Enders-Stevens. He clocked another great reaction time (.018), but it was his fellow Texan who got the nod in the money round with a 6.571, 211.73 to McGaha's 6.598 paired with the second-best speed of eliminations, 211.66.
 
"It was great making it to the finals," said McGaha. "Even though we lost, we still made it down to two cars. It was almost unbelievable to get down there in the semifinals and see that string of win lights. We knew we could get there, but I guess in the end I was really surprised. I'm just so happy that we finally got over that hump. Hopefully, we'll be able to get over the next hump a whole bunch sooner and win. I'm ready to go again right now."
 
Crew chief Brian "Lump" Self said, "We've come a long way. We learned how to race on raceday today, and maybe we don't know how to win yet, but we will. We're going to do it. We got just enough today to make us real excited. Let's go some more."

 

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Texas Native Chris McGaha Hoping for Glory in Home State

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Texas Native Chris McGaha Hoping for Glory in Home State

CHRIS McGAHA
HARLOW SAMMONS CHEVROLET CAMARO
EVENT PREVIEW – O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS
ROYAL PURPLE RACEWAY, HOUSTON
APRIL 24-26, 2015
 

Texas Native Chris McGaha Hoping for Glory in Home State

 
ODESSA, Texas (April 22, 2015) – NHRA Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha is coming home to Texas this weekend for the 28th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Houston's Royal Purple Raceway. McGaha, a native of Odessa, Texas, relishes the opportunity to bring his ever-improving program back to the Lone Star State for what he hopes will be his best performance to date.
 
And why not? The fourth-year competitor will arrive in Houston with one of the hottest cars on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, and when he unloads the silver Harlow Sammons Racing Chevrolet Camaro, the former sportsman competitor will do so with the knowledge that he has every capability of finally scoring his first NHRA Pro Stock win.
 
So far this season, McGaha has been the No. 1 qualifier twice – at back-to-back races in Gainesville and Charlotte. Currently No. 5 in the Pro Stock standings, he has been one to watch in his bid for power and speed. The amiable Texan and owner of Southwest Performance & Machine paid his dues as a sportsman racer, competing in NHRA's Competition Eliminator category en route to making his Pro Stock debut in 2011 and catapulting to the semifinals on Sunday five times. With a heart the size of Texas, McGaha is eager to make his best impression yet in his home state.
 
"The first time we ever raced in Houston was in the early 1990s," recalled the second-generation drag racer, whose father, Lester McGaha, was also a Comp racer and now works with him side-by-side on the family's Pro Stock program. "We're very familiar with that racetrack and have a lot of memories there, and for my crew chief, this is really a lot like home, too."
 
McGaha is tuned by Brian "Lump" Self, a noted Comp racer in his own right who is originally from Oklahoma but spent many years racing in Texas. McGaha and Self raced against one another for years before McGaha asked him to join him in the Pro Stock ranks as a crew chief.
 
"The very last round of Comp I ever raced was the final round at a division race in Houston in 2011," recalled McGaha. He didn't win the round, but it sticks in his mind.
 
"We should have won it. That goes through my mind a lot. We had the car to win – just like we did in Gainesville earlier this year – but we just couldn't get it done. I feel like that is almost the same situation we've been in lately, we have the car to win, we just haven't been able to get it done yet. To get it done in Texas, our home state, would really mean a lot to us.
 
"We need to win. We've gotten close, but it's like Lump keeps saying – we've got to learn how to win. We've gotten to that point. We've shown everyone we know how to go fast, now it's time to show them we know how to win."
 
Event Schedule (all times Central):
Friday, April 24:           Two qualifying rounds, 4 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 25:      Two qualifying rounds, 12:30 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 26:        Final eliminations starting with Top Fuel at 11 a.m.
 
Television Coverage (as posted on NHRA.com 4/22/2015):
4/25/2015 Qualifying           5:00 PM - 7:00 PM ET/2:00 PM - 4:00 PM PT (ESPN2)
4/26/2015 Eliminations         2:00 PM - 5:00 PM ET/11:00 AM - 2:00 PM PT (ESPN2)  LIVE

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SURGING McGAHA TOPS PRO STOCK ORDER FOR SECOND STRAIGHT TIME

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SURGING McGAHA TOPS PRO STOCK ORDER FOR SECOND STRAIGHT TIME

Chris McGaha wasn't intimidated by lining up Saturday against two-time series champion and early qualifying leader Jason Line – or strong-running veteran Larry Morgan – or rapid rookie Drew Skillman at zMAX Dragway's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

The Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro driver knocked Line from the top spot and will lead the Pro Stock field for the second straight race, thanks to his career-quickest pass, an elapsed time of 6.474 seconds at 213.70 mph in the quarter-mile. It's also his second consecutive No. 1 start at this event.

Line, who made his quickest and fastest run of the season (6.481/214.18) and set the track speed record, is second in the line-up.

"We really stumbled onto what we were looking for at Phoenix in the semifinals when we almost crashed," McGaha said.

What he and his team discovered almost a continent away is paying off now, he said: "It's led to all this performance gain."

He said he takes some satisfaction in showing that while he vaulted into serious contention last year by purchasing the proven equipment of perennial contender Mike Edwards, he can make his own modifications to the program and still be the strong runner he was in 2014.

McGaha reminded that Edwards, who has stepped back from team ownership and driving, is helping Line and Greg Anderson and the KB / Summit Racing team. "He's having to race his own stuff. I wonder if he'd take the same deal at this point," the West Texan said.

But McGaha isn’t smug at all.

Asked if he expected such a performance surge this early in the season, he said unhesitatingly, "Absolutely not."

He said, "You’re always working for it, but you never expect it to be there. Then when it's there, you're like, 'OK – When's lightning going to strike and go the other direction' because it will eventually. It always does."

McGaha, Line, and Skillman were the only Pro Stock racers to post 6.4-second passes Saturday, although No. 4 Anderson is close behind at 6.502. The dearth of 6.4s surprised McGaha, he said.

"We had it figured people could go mid-(6.)40s. We really did. The numbers were there. But our problem was the track was green to us all," McGaha said. "None of us had ever been down it, except a few guys in Lane 2, but I think we all were very conservative and holding back."

In his mind, too, was the dangerous condition of the track during the Carolinas Nationals there last September. The event finished at Texas Motorplex, near Dallas, a huge blow to zMAX Dragway owner Bruton Smith's pride and pocketbook. The track quickly atoned for the situation with a repaving job to this facility Smith dubbed "The Bellagio of Dragways." And the surface has been redone with special care. But McGaha said most of the racers didn’t know what to expect.

"I was pretty nervous," he said of his approach to the track, especially after persistent rain washed out everyone's chances to qualify at either of the two scheduled runs Friday. "I had to go in the lane I went down the last time I was here. I think it was going through all of us' minds, because even Jason Line made a comment to me about it. It was definitely on all of us' mind."      

 McGaha will meet surprising No. 16 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens, the reigning class champion, in Sunday's first round of eliminations, along with No. 8 Shane Gray and No. 9 Buddy Perkinson. The quickest two will advance to the semifinal round in the non-traditional format of this event.

Enders-Stevens, who experienced tire shake and aborted her first-session qualifying attempt, had problems with her Elite Motorsports Camaro entry immediately in her final chance. She brought the car to a stop about 100 feet off the starting line and was pushed off the track.

"You cannot take that lightly," he said of the Elite team and Enders-Stevens and their car. "Any minute it can change," he said of her fortunes so far this weekend, adding "especially with the potential those guys have."

Said Enders-Stevens after qualifying, "We started the year with a brand-new RJ Racecars Camaro, and it's going to be the next big thing, no doubt about it. But we just haven't figured out how to match the car and our Elite horsepower to the new tire and fuel the NHRA is making all of us use. We did OK in the first few races but decided to switch back to the car we won the championship with last year, because we just know it so much better. She does what we ask her to do every time. The thought is that our learning curve will be shorter."
 
Enders-Stevens knows she happened to be lucky because this field had only 16 entrants, but she said, "You definitely don't want to put yourself in this position. But if any team can get it together overnight and make a difference tomorrow, it's this group of guys right here. We've been through it all, and this is just another chapter."
 
But if Enders-Stevens, Gray, or Perkinson ever try to anticipate what an opponent might do on race day, they might be a little confused or concerned this weekend. McGaha has sent mixed signals because of the mixed bag of conditions they all have to navigate this weekend.
 
He said his car "has potential to go faster. The computer says, 'Yes, you can go more.' " In the next breath, he said, "We're also going to play it safe." Seconds later he conceded that on race day, "you got to go up there and win."
 
The drama begins Sunday with a 1 p.m. (ET) start to eliminations. The Pro Stock class should begin running sometime around 1:45 p.m.
 

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MCGAHA STANDS UP FOR THE PRO STOCK CLASS

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MCGAHA STANDS UP FOR THE PRO STOCK CLASS

Want to get Chris McGaha fired up? Talk about the health of NHRA Pro Stock.

McGaha, the No. 1 qualifier two weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla., wsas the recipient of a first round bye because there were only 15 entries. A member of the media posed the question, “Are you more excited to get a first round bye or disappointed only 15 teams showed up to race?”

This was the question McGaha was waiting to answer.

“I see a lot of talk about health of this class on the Internet,” started McGaha. “I hear a lot from the Competition eliminator ranks, and how this class and that class is going to replace it. I can remember about five or ten years ago when Top Alcohol Funny Car got that way, but it’s still here and people are still building cars and show up.

“I think eventually people will weigh their odds and start to build Pro Stock cars. To me, now is the time to do it … especially when [NHRA] evened out the playing field like they did by changing the tires and the fuel. To me, that wiped the slate clean for so many and helped people like me come back in. I feel like it is even again.”

What about the extreme cost of campaigning a Pro Stocker? McGaha believes the cost is relevant with the increasing price of doing business.

“Back in 1995 you could get a Steve Schmidt motor for $10,000,” said McGaha. “That was the going rate. A gallon of gas was $1 - $1.25. Now gas is about $4. You could rent top tier stuff for about $40K. The ratio is about the same. I know people, who in 2003, had a one-million dollar budget. I know you can still do it. A lot of people talk about the cost, and yes, it is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. It’s always been expensive.

“My family wanted to do it in the mid-90s but couldn’t do it. We ran Comp. It’s an economy deal … not real sure.

McGaha had an option when he couldn’t afford to race Pro Stock, but believes too many options for drag racing isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“I think the whole overall deal with drag racing is there’s too many options,” McGaha explained. “To many guys have made too many [classes]. Here’s a 10.5 car over here that a guy can race within 150 miles of home. Let’s make this series over here, and it’s really hurting the sport. I’ve told our local guys, and I am a supporter of our local Mean Street racing, that they need to get behind NHRA even though they aren’t associated with them.

“We all need to get behind every class and everybody needs to work together. We don't need to be separated; that's the biggest problem and always has been. We all need to band together. That's what this has always been about – nobody needs to replace anybody, nobody needs to go anywhere. We all need to stick together.”

If anyone knows the pain of replacement, it’s McGaha. McGaha made his move into Pro Stock after racing Pro Stock Truck, a class which was shelved in 2001. The decision to drop the class resulted in a lawsuit between a group of former disgruntled drivers and the sanctioning body. McGaha regretfully was one of the plaintiffs.  

Talk of NHRA dropping Pro Stock reopens old wounds for McGaha.

“I was a Pro Stock Truck racer. I built a Pro Stock Truck – they don’t want to go there,” McGaha warned. “If you was to take Pro Stock from me this time … it wouldn’t be pretty. You would definitely see me make a big stink about it.”

While McGaha was pretty amped with his response, he further clarified.

“We just want a place to race. Naturally aspirated racing needs to have a place to race. That's the main objective there. I guess I'd stand out in front of the race with a picket sign or something if Pro Stock went away, but you would have to do something to get your point across. Legal action isn't going to work, there is nothing to be gained that way.

“I understand the car count is low. There’s no doubt about it. There’s a lot of people with potential to come in here. It is funding holding them back. Besides, how many Funny Cars were there [here in Gainesville]?

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McGaha Earns Third Career Pole at NHRA Gatornationals

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McGaha Earns Third Career Pole at NHRA Gatornationals

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2015) – NHRA Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha is coming into his own at the 46th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. McGaha, driver of the streaking silver Harlow Sammons Racing Chevrolet Camaro, scored the third No. 1 qualifier award of his career with four brilliant passes, one right after another, and in doing so was awarded maximum points in each round. McGaha exited qualifying with 12 bonus points as the quickest driver in each of the four sessions.
 
On the first day in Gainesville, McGaha clocked a 6.507 at 212.73 mph in the early session and returned with a 6.509, 212.76 that was two-hundredths quicker than the field.
 
Day two was just more of the same, with McGaha piloting his "Silver Bullet" Camaro to a 6.518, 212.56 and finally a 6.513, 212.39. As there are just 15 cars in the field, McGaha will get a bye run for first round.
 
"It's one of those deals – we didn't really expect to sweep qualifying like that," admitted McGaha. "Even if it wasn't me that did it, it would still be pretty impressive. I know I wasn't the first guy to do it, but it isn't something that happens all the time. It feels pretty good, and we didn't really expect to come here and have that much on everybody. It's getting exciting.
 
"Those little points [bonus qualifying points] do get addicting. You can make up a round here or there. But the championship? That still isn't a word in my vocabulary. We need to win a race. We can't lose focus here; we have to win a race. You do that one round at a time. I just have to keep from folding like a lawn chair because it's all left up to me."
 
McGaha shares his excitement with his team, including crew chief Brian 'Lump' Self, who was previously associated with the team for a short while but returned full time mid-season in 2014.
 
"Lump and I raced each other in Comp, and he's my crew chief now. It's a pretty neat deal," said McGaha of his many days as an NHRA sportsman racer going after trophies in the tough Competition Eliminator category. "I've had a couple other No. 1 qualifier awards, but I wanted to get one for him. He's never had one, and I wanted to do it for Lump. Today was a good day."
 
McGaha is still in the running for the fan vote in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a bonus event that pits the best of the best against one another for bragging rights and a $50,000 payout. Although he is the No. 1 qualifier in Gainesville, he isn't in the top seven drivers who are awarded a position in the bonus shootout event based on qualifying over the past year. The eighth position is decided by the fan vote.
 
Log your vote for Chris McGaha in the K&N Horsepower Challenge at nhra.com/knhpchallenge.aspx.
 
The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a special race-within-a-race bonus program for the top Pro Stock drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge will be conducted at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motors Speedway in the spring. The race features a special elimination pairing with eight Pro Stock drivers in the field, including seven who accumulate the most points in qualifying during the 24-race Challenge series and one driver who is selected to the starting lineup for the event via a special fan vote. The winner of the K&N Horsepower Challenge will earn $50,000, and the runner-up will earn $10,000. The two semifinalists will earn $3,000 each, while the four first-round finishers will receive $2,500 each. 
 

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McGaha charges into 2015, shows great strength at Winternationals

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McGaha charges into 2015, shows great strength at Winternationals

POMONA, Calif. (February 9, 2015) – The first race of the 2015 season of NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series brought a surge of optimism to the Harlow Sammons Racing team. The Odessa, Texas-based family-run operation debuted a brand new Jerry Haas Pro Stock Chevrolet Camaro at the 55th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, and their performance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona included a top half qualifying effort and an important round win that situated them nicely in the top 10 in the standings for a strong start to the year.
 
McGaha blasted to a qualifying best time of 6.538-second at 211.56 mph and was No. 2 on the charts at the conclusion of the first day of qualifying. Though they dropped to No. 8 in the line-up before the field was set, McGaha and his Southwest Performance & Machine-powered Chevrolet Camaro again showed speed and power on Sunday.
 
A lengthy oil down as they waited for the first round of eliminations created a situation that worked in McGaha's favor as the conditions changed.
 
"Lane choice became a big issue," said McGaha. "We were originally in the right lane, and we had time to talk about it and we decided to move over. It looked like it paid off, and then I got lane choice again."
 
In the first round, McGaha made the third quickest run of the round, a 6.547 at 211.66 that gave him lane choice over the incoming points leader, Erica Enders-Stevens. In their second-round meeting, McGaha wheeled the sleek silver Harlow Sammons Racing Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.565 at 210.73, again one of the three quickest of the session, but he missed the win light by just .007-second after his opponent took a slight advantage at the starting line.
 
"It was awesome to go into the round with lane choice, and I feel great about this weekend," said McGaha, who leaves the event No. 5 in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock points. "We brought out a brand new car with a bunch of stuff we built in it, and if we can just keep everything together, we're going to have some fun out there. We blew up a motor on Friday, and we're going to take that one back to the shop and get it ready for Gainesville. But yes, we are very happy. To unload and go No. 2 on the first day of the first race of the year gave us a lot of hope for the rest of the season."
 

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Chris McGaha Puts Action-Packed Weekend Behind Him, Prepares to Move on Down the Road

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Chris McGaha Puts Action-Packed Weekend Behind Him, Prepares to Move on Down the Road

Houston is historically a battle for Texas racer Chris McGaha. This time around wasn't much easier, but McGaha certainly made steps towards mastering the tricky conditions and trying to shake the odd vibe that has somewhat haunted him in previous years. At this season's 27th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway, McGaha qualified for the event and made one of the quickest passes in the opening round.

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