Pre-Event Testing Prepares Anderson's New Pontiac For Mile-High Nationals DENVER, July 14, 2004 - The 25th annual Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway marks the first contest on the arduous three-race western swing, a series of mentally...
Pre-Event Testing Prepares Anderson's New Pontiac For Mile-High Nationals
DENVER, July 14, 2004 - The 25th annual Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway marks the first contest on the arduous three-race western swing, a series of mentally and physically taxing events that take the NHRA POWERade tour to venues in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., on consecutive weekends. Pontiac Grand Am driver and current Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson views the upcoming triple header as an opportunity to edge closer to a second straight POWERade championship, but a formidable posse of opponents remain in pursuit, trying to track him down and thwart the back-to-back title bid.
Anderson will be climbing into a new Jerry Haas-built Pontiac this weekend, a car he hopes will put even more distance between himself and his pursuers. In preparation for the upcoming Mile-High Nationals, Anderson and his teammates joined a large contingent of Pro Stock competitors two weeks ago for three days of testing at Bandimere Speedway.
"Testing at Denver went real well for us," said Anderson. "We ran the new Jerry Haas Pontiac Grand Am that we recently acquired and we like it quite a bit. The new car is painted in the Summit Racing colors, and it will provide us with what we need to finish out the season strong. Jason (Line) will drive my old car, which is pretty darn good, through the end of the year, and I'll race the new one.
"We probably had cooler weather than what we'll see this week when we go back - it was only 75 degrees when we tested. It was fast for everybody, but we ran a 7.13 and a 7.14, with the two cars both at 192.5 mph. The track record is 7.20, so we ran quicker than the track record, but so did a lot of other cars. You probably won't see conditions that good this weekend, but you will see the Pro Stock cars running under 7.20."
With 12 races of the 24-event NHRA schedule completed, Anderson has already won nine events, earned nine low qualifying awards and occupied first place from the opening bell at Pomona. The Mile-High Nationals will mark the 26th consecutive race dating back to the 2003 Pontiac Excitement Nationals that Anderson has held the lead position in the points standings. In the midst of his fourth season as a full-time Pro Stock competitor, the Pontiac Grand Am driver has tallied an impressive 25 career victories in a career that dates back to 1998, but he's still looking to win for the first time at Denver and Sonoma, two of the three pending events on the western swing.
"Every year when we go to Denver we feel so stupid," said Anderson. "You can't seem to learn enough during the test session or during the race. Bandimere Speedway and the inherent conditions you encounter when you compete at 5,800 feet make it so different than any other track we race on. You could rent the facility for a month and still learn something every day. Although you can never get enough time testing there, it's still very important to get as much as you can. Every year when we go back it takes us a long time to get it figured out - you can't seem to conquer the place."
During the western swing, one of the challenges facing competitors will be correctly adjusting their race setups to compensate for the extreme altitudinous conditions at Bandimere Speedway and the near sea-level conditions at Seattle and Sonoma. Anderson is confident his team is up to the task.
"It's the same struggle for everybody, but it is tough to adapt and make the changes for the three different tracks," explained Anderson. "You go to Denver and race at 5800 feet and it's unlike anywhere else we compete. You change every thing on your car, leave there and go back down to sea level. You've made so many changes that sometimes it's hard to keep track of what exactly you have changed. When we go to Seattle it's like starting all over.
"During the last couple of years we've actually had some pretty decent west-coast swings. This entire month will be quite a challenge for everybody, and we especially want to win at those tracks where we haven't. We have a good lead in the points standings and if we can run strong at these next three races, we'll be in a good position heading into the final eight events."
Bruce Allen and the Reher-Morrison team also had their Speedco Pontiac Grand Am at Bandimere Speedway for some pre-race testing. Allen has never won the Mile-High Nationals, but he qualified No. 1 at Denver in 2001 and was the No. 3 qualifier in 2002. During the three-week break between the last event in St. Louis and the upcoming race in Denver, the Reher-Morrison team made some substantial changes to their Pontiac that they hope will push them toward the top of the ladder.
"This is kind of the turning point of the season," said Allen. "Based on where you are and how you're doing, it can be tough to motivate yourself if you're not in it for the long haul. The races are back-to-back, the travel is grueling, and there are a lot of changes to contend with, from the highest corrected altitude at Denver, back down to racing at sea-level in Seattle, in less than a week.
"From an engine standpoint, we've made some pretty radical changes hoping it will pay some dividends, and we've done the same with the racecar. This time around our setup on the Grand Am is better than it's ever been and that's pretty heartening. Seattle will be an unknown because of the new surface, and how we run there and at Denver will set the tone for how well we do at Sonoma and Brainerd. If we can post three good races, that will give us a nice punch of momentum heading into the end of the year."
Mile-High Nationals Pre-Race Facts:
* After 12 national events, Pontiac leads the NHRA Manufacturer's Cups standings with 1,980 points. Chevrolet is in second place with 1,560 points and Dodge is third with 420 points.
* GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson is the defending champion at the Mile-High Nationals and his four victories at Bandimere Speedway (1984, '91, '01, 03) are the most among active Pro Stock competitors. Johnson's memorable Mile-High win in 2001 surpassed Bob Glidden for most career victories by an NHRA Pro Stock competitor. Johnson has also earned five No. 1 qualifying awards (1984, '90-'91, '98-'99) at this event.
* Anderson's Pontiac Grand Am holds the Bandimere Speedway elapsed-time track record at 7.205 seconds and speed record of 191.46 mph, both set at last year's event.
* In addition to Warren Johnson, Jim Yates and Mike Edwards are current Pontiac Grand Am drivers who have won at Bandimere Speedway. Edwards won the Mile-High Nationals in 2002 and Yates was a two-time winner in 1996-97.
* Current Chevy Cavalier drivers who have previously won the Mile-High Nationals include Kurt Johnson (1995, 2000) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (1998-99).
* Tony Pedregon, Cruz Pedregon and Del Worsham make up the list of current Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car drivers who have won the Mile-High Nationals. Del Worsham is the most recent winner in 2002, Tony Pedregon won the event in 1998-99 and Cruz Pedregon won in 1992.
* Ron Capps holds the Bandimere Speedway Funny Car track-record elapsed time at 4.949 seconds set in a Chevrolet in 2001.
* At 5,860 feet above sea level, Bandimere Speedway is the highest surface the series competes on. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is second highest at 2,100 feet above sea level and Bristol Dragway (Tenn.) is third at 1,475 feet above sea level.
Two hours of qualifying highlights of the Mile-High Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, July 17, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). Final eliminations will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 18, starting at 9 p.m. (ET).