Columbus: GM Racing final summary

Greg Anderson, Del Worsham, Deliver a Pair af GM Racing Victories at The Pontiac Excitement Nationals COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 13, 2004 - A final-round Pro Stock battle between two GM-branded cars, and a Chevy Monte Carlo championship in Funny...

Greg Anderson, Del Worsham, Deliver a Pair af GM Racing Victories at The Pontiac Excitement Nationals

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 13, 2004 - A final-round Pro Stock battle between two GM-branded cars, and a Chevy Monte Carlo championship in Funny Car was the culmination of an action-packed weekend of drag racing competition at the 40th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing.

Pontiac Grand Am driver Greg Anderson won his eighth Pro Stock race of the season, and his third consecutive Pontiac Excitement Nationals title by defeating Chevy Cavalier pilot Dave Connolly.

"This racetrack is a tough place to crack," said Anderson. "Fortunately for us, we've been able to win the Pontiac Excitement Nationals three years in a row so apparently we're doing something right."

It was a clean sweep weekend for the 43-year-old Anderson, who came into today's event with his Pontiac Grand Am qualified in the No. 1 position. Anderson's Pontiac parked in the lead starting spot by running a National Trail track-record elapsed time and speed of 6.790 seconds at 203.06 mph. During today's competition, the Vegas General Construction Pontiac driver eliminated Mark Pawuk in round one, Kurt Johnson in round two and Bruce Allen in round three. In the finals, the 21-year-old Connolly, who was making his second final-round appearance in 2004, launched first with the Chevrolet, cutting down the Christmas Tree with a .022 light. But Anderson's Grand Am reeled him in, crossing the finish line in 6.854 seconds at 201.73 mph. Connolly's Chevrolet followed with a 6.937 e.t. at 201.55 mph. The margin of victory was .055 of a second.

"Last year when we won was a pretty emotional day with Jason (Line) getting upside down," said Anderson. "This weekend sure beats that. When that sun came out today, it kind of threw everybody a curve. We struggled the first couple of laps, and then in the semifinals we really got a handle on it, made the right moves and made this Pontiac Grand Am a nice handling car.

"Winning our eighth race is a heck of a confidence builder. No matter what happens from here on out, we've had a great run. If we stumble, or lose one, it won't be the end of the world. We've had some good fortune and it's a darn good feeling just to climb into that Pontiac Grand Am. The longer we keep this ball rolling though, the better off we'll be."

For Anderson, it was his 24th career victory in 36 final-round appearances. This season, the North Carolina resident has scored an amazing 37 round wins against just two defeats for a .949 winning percentage. In the POWERade championship chase, Anderson has accumulated 1,116 points in just 10 races for an average of 112 points per event. He also has a 378 point lead over second-place Kurt Johnson.

"Today was a tuner's race, a crew chief's race, and there are a lot of guys on my team that made it happen," said Anderson. "This wasn't necessarily a horsepower track because a lot of guys picked up their power, and picked up their game. But when the sun came out, my guys came through when it mattered."

In Funny Car, Del Worsham scored his third victory of the season by defeating Gary Scelzi in the finals, and gave Chevy Monte Carlo its third marker in the NHRA win column.

Worsham's Chevy Monte Carlo started the day qualified in the No. 9 spot, taking out Tony Pedregon in round one, Jerry Toliver in round two and teammate Phil Burkart in the semifinals before squaring up with Gary Scelzi in the championship round. Worsham's Chevrolet took the win light with a 5.487 e.t. at 254.62 mph to Scelzi's 5.651 second run at 206.95 mph.

"I had a very tough race in round one against Tony Pedregon and that Quaker State Chevy Monte Carlo," said Worsham. "It's a fast car at 330 mph and he's the defending world champion. We were qualified in the bottom half of the field and we've done pretty well with both of our previous wins coming from there. I was thinking that maybe the bottom half of the field brings out the best in us, we run a little bit harder, try to go a little bit faster, we don't back down and we get a little more aggressive. It definitely paid off for us today."

It was Worsham's 17th career victory in 27 final-round appearances, and his first win at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, moving the Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet driver to within 21 points of first-place Whit Bazemore. Worsham also scored his 250th career round win as a Funny Car driver, and his three victories in 2004 are the most in the category this year.

"Today's conditions were kind of like the way they were when we won our first two races," said Worsham. "We won at Phoenix and won at Gainesville racing in weather in the mid-eighties in summer-like conditions. I wasn't as surprised when we smoked the tires in the second round, but I was when it happened in the finals. We didn't do anything unusual that would cause that to happen.

"Whit's (Bazemore) been to five final rounds, and we're only 21 points behind him. We're definitely holding up our end of the deal. There's going to be races where he's going to go out early, and maybe we'll win, and vice-versa. It's going to be a battle all the way to the end, and I wouldn't count out John Force. Until the final round at Pomona, we're all in this race."

The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the 35th annual NHRA SuperNationals on June 17 - 20 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

-gm-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Bruce Allen , Phil Burkart , Jerry Toliver , Dave Connolly