Anderson Takes Fifth No. 1 Qualifier of Season at Atlanta Pontiac Stays Perfect in Pro Stock Qualifying COMMERCE, Ga., May 6, 2006 - Three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson continued his torrid qualifying streak by placing ...
Anderson Takes Fifth No. 1 Qualifier of Season at Atlanta
Pontiac Stays Perfect in Pro Stock Qualifying
COMMERCE, Ga., May 6, 2006 - Three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson continued his torrid qualifying streak by placing his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO in the top spot after final qualifying for this weekend's 26th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway. His track-record elapsed time of 6.704 seconds at 205.22 mph was good for his fifth No. 1 qualifier in the season's first seven races (he qualified No. 2 to teammate Jason Line at Houston and Bristol) and the 45th of his career.
"Last night's run that got the pole was a very, very clean run," said Anderson. "It was an awesome run and it came at the right time. There are a lot of guys, and girls, running very, very fast in this class right now, but we've got quite a streak going. I think that makes the last 13 races that one of the Summit Pontiacs has been on the pole. I guess if you're out there dominating the class and you've got half of a tenth on everybody, that wouldn't seem like such an accomplishment. But most of them have been done by less than hundredths, so that just tells you what kind of a job these guys on this Summit Racing Pontiac team have done. It's a great team effort. If I can't do it, Jason seems to do it. It's incredible and it's a great 1-2 punch. We've put ourselves in a great position so far this weekend. It's Job #1 to get the cars qualified, to get them quick and qualified well, and get them qualified on the opposite side of the ladder. That's what we've done here and if we're to go all day on Sunday, we can't meet until the final. That's your goal and what you'd like to happen. It happened last week (Line won at Bristol) and we'd like to do it again this week at the Summit Racing Nationals.
"We're looking forward to tomorrow. We're going to have a big weather swing by the way it looks, and that's going to throw a new challenge at us. It's not going to be anything like it was out there today. We had nothing but sun today and you probably won't see that sunshine tomorrow. It'll be cooler, 65-70 degrees, and it's just going to be a completely different deal. But that's where those crew chiefs come in handy, and I've got a couple of the best in the business, so hopefully we'll be ready for that weather change."
Kurt Johnson in the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt continued his recent string of strong performances with his best qualifying effort of the season. He was right behind Anderson in the No. 2 position with an elapsed time of 6.714 seconds at 205.19 mph, and he comes into Atlanta on the strength of a win (Las Vegas) and a semifinal-round appearance (Bristol) in the last two races.
"We used today as a test day," said Johnson. "With the warmer temperatures on Saturday, we knew we would neither get bumped back nor have a realistic shot at taking over the No. 1 position, so we decided to try a few things out. Although I wouldn't say we were pleased with the results, we know what not to do on race day. We will put our ACDelco Chevy Cobalt back to the way we set it up on Friday. It wants to go down the track on every run, which is really good. I feel confident we can go some rounds and do some damage here."
Anderson's teammate Jason Line has now qualified outside the top five only once this season after his third-place qualifying effort here at Atlanta. Line, coming off his first win of the season last week at Bristol, drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to an elapsed time of 6.724 seconds at 204.94 mph. In addition, a Pontiac GTO driven by either Anderson or Line has claimed the top spot in Pro Stock qualifying for 13 consecutive races dating back to last year's U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.
"The car's pretty good right now," said Line. "If the driver can do his job, we should be able to go a couple of rounds tomorrow at least, but we'll see. We've got a tough competitor first round, we've got Dave Connolly, and he's always tough but it'll be fun. The win last week builds a little momentum, I think, and it definitely gives you a little confidence. But once you get up there tomorrow, what happened last week doesn't matter."
Jim Yates also turned in his best qualifying effort of the season by powering his Sea-Ray Pontiac GTO to an elapsed time of 6.724 seconds, matching Line's e.t. but at a slower speed of 204.51 mph to qualify fourth. He comes into Atlanta fifth in Pro Stock points and he has qualified in the top half of the field in five of the season's first seven races.
"We've been making progress," said Yates, "adapting the car to the horsepower, and everything was looking good. We ran really well on Friday, and today we knew it was going to be a little warmer and we were going to try some things. Both runs today we tried stuff that didn't really work, so tomorrow, race day, we're going to have to go back to the baseline. I think the track's going to be a little cooler, the air's going to be a little bit cooler, similar conditions to what we had here on Friday night, so we should have a pretty good combination for that and go out there and run some good numbers. It's going to be tough, but we've got lane choice, we're No. 4 qualifier, it's a good place to be."
Erica Enders in her Slammers Chevy Cobalt made it five GM cars in the top five in qualifying with an elapsed time of 6.726 seconds at 205.04 mph, and the 22-year-old Texas native has qualified in the top five in six of this season's first seven races.
"I'm proud of my guys, like I always say," said Enders. "Having the horsepower's the key, and we all know that. The field's always tough. We slipped down to fifth and face Dave Howard tomorrow who we just ran in the fourth qualifying session. I 'tree'd' him, but he outran us by two hundredths, so we can bet he's going to be on his game tomorrow, but so are we. We're going to come out swinging."
GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO driver Warren Johnson from nearby Sugar Hill, Ga., qualified seventh but was quickest in today's fourth and final session, and he bettered the Atlanta Dragway top-speed mark, which Anderson held for less than 24 hours. He ran a session-best elapsed time of 6.734 seconds at a track-record 205.79 mph.
"We didn't end up the No. 1 qualifier," said Johnson, "but taking it session by session, our GM Performance Parts GTO was actually the quickest car 50% of the time. I guess we just happened to be quickest at the wrong times. We did have the one run on Friday night affected by rain, but overall, we're pleased with our performance and this afternoon's effort was certainly a step in the right direction. Although the forecast is calling for rain tomorrow, we'll just wait and see what Mother Nature has in mind and deal with it as best as possible."
"It's a great rivalry (with Warren) and I respect him," said Anderson, "and I would hope that he respects me for what we've done too. It's been kind of back and forth with him ever since I started driving, and I wouldn't expect any less from the guy. There's no question about it, this is his home track. Everybody refers to Atlanta as Warren Johnson's home track, and it is, but you don't want to forget that I worked for him for 12 years and even though I wasn't driving the car, I was tuning it. Every time we tested I was right here with him. It's not like this is a strange place for me. I know this [place] better than any other track."
"But you just can't look at him and nobody else. There's a whole bunch of great guys out there. The guy I have to run first round, Greg Stanfield, I've had my hands full with him the last few races. He ran great today. He ran the same e.t. I did [in the last session], so there are no easy ones. Once you go out there on Sunday, they're all a knock-down, drag-out brawl. Even though you're No. 1 qualifier, you run No. 16 and he just ran the same e.t. I did. He's going to be right there tomorrow, and I'm going to have to be on my game or I won't get past first round."
In Funny Car, Del Worsham leads Team Chevrolet with his third-place qualifying run at an elapsed time of 4.730 seconds at 328.70 mph. John Force was No. 1 qualifier in a Ford with a track-record elapsed time of 4.686 seconds at a speed of 329.58 mph.
"What you want to do on a day like this is get the car from one end to the other," said Worsham, "just to give yourself a baseline for race day, but it wasn't that easy out there. The tricky parts were from 330 to 660, where the cars wanted to spin the tires if you had a good head of steam up. It was possible, because a few guys did it, but the hard part was going quick enough to get there without spinning the tires. From what we see on the Internet, the weather forecast for tomorrow is way different than today, and we may actually be trying to dodge rain drops as well, so we'll just have to see how it shakes out. I'm disappointed that we didn't make it on that last run, but we have to trust ourselves that we can put a good lap up in round one.
"The other thing you want to do on a day like this is see your teammate get in the show by a thousandth, not get bumped out by a thousandth. Talk about strange; you can usually go all year without seeing anyone bumped out by a thousandth, and now we've seen it two weeks in a row and both times it involved Checker, Schuck's, Kragen cars. We got in by that much last week, and Phil (Burkart) got bumped by that much today. This has been just way too much drama."