Gainesville: Pro Stock competition heats up

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - There have been just two races so far in the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, but the Pro Stock category has already become the category to watch. Greg Anderson set records and dominated the two-door category in 2003 en...

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - There have been just two races so far in the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, but the Pro Stock category has already become the category to watch. Greg Anderson set records and dominated the two-door category in 2003 en route to his first championship as a driver. In 2004 the Minnesota native and Charlotte, N.C. resident has come out blazing once again.

After Anderson won the first race of the season and earned the No. 1 qualifying position at the first two events, there has already been talk about Anderson sweeping the season once again.

Then Kurt Johnson stepped in and stopped the championship sweep chatter. Johnson beat Anderson on a holeshot in the semifinal round in Phoenix before going on to win the race. Johnson, who finished second in the final Pro Stock point standings last year, sits five points out of first place and is throwing his name into the championship scenario once again.

Anderson and Johnson are two of at least 40 Pro Stock drivers aiming for the Wally trophy when the NHRA makes its annual visit to Florida for the 35th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 18-21 at Gainesville Raceway. Brandon Bernstein, Gary Densham, Johnson and Angelle Savoie are the defending champions of the $2 million race, the third of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Anderson and Johnson used to be co-crew chiefs for six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. Kurt left to become a driver. Years later, after helping Warren win three championships, Anderson did the same thing. Now all three are competing against each other for event victories and the season-long POWERade championship.

"I think Greg has everybody working," Kurt said. "Everyone is paying more attention to detail and they are trying to get their cars to go faster and everyone is trying to make more power. Greg has raised the bar and we are trying to catch him right now. I guarantee he's looking over his shoulder."

Anderson won four consecutive races before Johnson broke the streak in Phoenix. Anderson also set seven consecutive No. 1 qualifying awards dating back to 2003. Now he is looking forward to the trip to Gainesville Raceway - a track where he's winless.

"I am especially looking forward to racing there because (race sponsor) Mac Tools has done a very good job for me," Anderson said. "It seems like every race they sponsor I win, so it seems like they are a good luck charm besides everything else they do for me. Gainesville has always been a great race track. It is a very smooth surface and it is what Pro Stock cars love. Pro Stock cars want the best race track they can get and Gainesville has always been that for us. It's a great time of year; you can get cool temperatures so we can run real fast there. We always get good crowds and it is a great time. It's one of the tracks I always look forward to getting to every year."

The younger Johnson won at Gainesville for the first time in 2003 and is looking forward to being even faster by the time the NHRA starts qualifying in Florida.

"We went to Gainesville and we had never won there before and we put the ACDelco Cavalier in the winner's circle," Kurt said. "What we are really looking forward to is a little more testing before we get to Gainesville. We are going to Commerce the week of Gainesville to do a little testing and make some runs. The car just isn't smooth yet. It puts fair numbers up on the board but I think there are still one or two hundredths left in it. That's what it is going to take to win."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Brandon Bernstein