Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac GTO to 50th Career No. 1 Qualifying Award Four-Time Indy Champ sets both ends of ORP Track Record at 52nd Annual U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 3. 2006 - Greg Anderson reached another quarter-milestone in his...
Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac GTO to 50th Career No. 1 Qualifying Award
Four-Time Indy Champ sets both ends of ORP Track Record at 52nd Annual U.S. Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 3. 2006 - Greg Anderson reached another quarter-milestone in his illustrious career when he earned his 50th No. 1 qualifying award tonight at the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The 45-year-old Mooresville, N.C. resident, and driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, set both ends of the Pro Stock track record during Sunday's first round of time trials with a run of 6.662 seconds at 206.95 mph to reach the golden landmark.
"No. 50 is pretty cool, it's an awesome number." said Anderson. "It's something I never thought I would ever achieve. I've had some success over the years and it's come against some great competition, but it couldn't have been done without the great KB Racing program behind me. I'm proud of my guys. The guys at the track, the guys back at the engine shop, they're the ones doing it. I'm just steering that Summit Racing GTO down the racetrack and playing my part. I'm a lucky man.
"Kurt (Johnson) made us work for it today, but it's to be expected. It's Indy and everybody raises their game when they come here so you'd better be ready. You'd better dig down and find that extra 10 percent you need to get it done here. Otherwise you're going to be on the trailer early. It's just a great race. I feel a great sense of pride to be a part of this class, this NHRA POWERade Pro Stock class, which gets tougher with every race we go to. You come to Indy and it seems all the teams are peaking when they need to - for the stretch run. I just thank the Lord our two cars are part of that group."
It marked the 10th No. 1 qualifying effort this season for Anderson, and his fourth consecutive pole award going back to last month's national event in Sonoma, Calif. Anderson has now been the No. 1 qualifier for the U.S. Nationals three years in a row.
"The starting line has been the key for us," said Anderson. "The middle of the racetrack is very, very good and there's really no excuse once you get out of low gear. The track will take everything you can give it. It's getting off the starting line without bogging the motor, without slipping the clutch too much, without spinning the tires. After that it's set sail. That 60-foot is what it's all about and it's where we nailed it this morning."
Anderson is a four-time champion at the U.S. Nationals (2001, 2003-05), and he's looking to join Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson as the only professional drivers to win four straight races at the "Big Go."
"It seems like it's been an eternity since I won a race, but I don't think I've ever been more prepared all season than I am this weekend," said Anderson. "I'm really looking for big things tomorrow and it is going to be a dogfight. It's going to be a knock-down, drag-out brawl, but I think we're peaking at the right time, both of our Pontiacs, Jason (Line) and myself, and we've got a great shot of putting one of those GTOs in the winner's circle."
With still only a total of 18 runs on his ACDelco Chevrolet, Kurt Johnson stepped up to the No. 2 starting position on Sunday when he drove his new Cobalt to a 6.672 second run at 206.83 mph.
"It was sweet," said Johnson. "It got out of the groove a little, and we actually left some on the table, but when you get down there and they say you ran a 6.67, and 6.68 was the previous low, that puts a big smile on your face. I think we have a hot rod for tomorrow. Now we just need to tweak it."
Johnson is coming off a win at the series most recent event in Memphis, Tenn., and is looking to capture his first U.S. Nationals victory since 1997 (he also won in 1996). Johnson was runner-up to Greg Anderson in 2003, and twice qualified on the pole in 1997 and in 2003. He qualified in the No. 3 position in 2005.
"We came here and put the ACDelco Chevrolet in the two hole, which is probably the best qualifying effort of the three races we've run this car," said Johnson. "We'll see if we can go some rounds tomorrow and make some straight runs - that was the issue today. The car wants to do one thing in one lane, and something else in the other, so we'll tune to the lane. We have lane choice in round one, and we went straight on one of the runs, so we'll put it back to the way it was and go.
"I felt like we had a good shot at winning this race when we got here, and I'm more happy now than I was leaving here last night, running 6.70 down that right-hand lane, especially when we had guys going 6.68 ahead of us. We picked up a solid hundredth with the changes we made today, so it looks like we're only a hundredth behind - but there's always the tree."
POWERade points leader Jason Line will push off on raceday from the No. 3 position, the second straight national-event he has started from that spot, and the 12th time this season (out of 18 races) he has qualified the Summit Racing Pontiac third or better. Line has advanced to the final round of eliminations at the last three events and at five of the last seven contests.
"Now we get to race," said Line. "The Summit Racing Pontiac is running good though. We're in good shape for tomorrow and I'm excited about our changes. We made a good run in that last session and that certainly helped us after the pass we made during the morning session. Tonight was a good time to make that pass, the last qualifying sessions before eliminations, now we just have to see what we can do tomorrow."
Mike Edwards has the Young Life Pontiac qualified in the No. 5 position after posting a 6.683 e.t. at 206.73 mph. Edwards' GTO picked up its performance in almost every round of time trials which has given the Oklahoma native a good shot at winning his second U.S. Nationals.
"We've got a pretty good horse for tomorrow if the rider just shows up," said Edwards. "It's been awesome weekend so far. The Young Life Pontiac has made five good runs, although I missed it a little bit this morning, and we should be qualified better, but I'm not going to be greedy. Hopefully we can put it all together and have a good day tomorrow.
"We're going into raceday at Indy with probably the best car we've had in years. Even in 1998 when we won the race, I didn't think our car that year was as good as this one. We're real happy with the car being consistent. We ran four 6.68s, and a 6.70 tonight, but I made a pretty drastic change for that last run, so you can't really count that one. I could have run another 6.68, that would have been five, but we learned something tonight and that's going to help us tomorrow. The key is to see if we can do that tomorrow."
A nice surprise this weekend at the 52nd annual U.S. Nationals has been how well Dave Howard's Chevy Cobalt has been running. Howard's Indicom Electrical Chevrolet was the quickest Pro Stock car during Indy's pre-race test session, and that has carried over to this weekend's time trials where Howard is qualified No. 6 with an elapsed time of 6.686 seconds at 206.07 mph, matching last month's season-best effort at Brainerd (Minn.).
"I'm pleased," said Howard. "I couldn't ask for a better chassis, better motors, everything is going real well for what we are. We're not part-time anymore, but we still don't test as much as these other guys, but I feel real fortunate - real lucky. Hopefully we can get it done tomorrow.
"This last run we had a transmission problem or we probably would have run a 6.69 or a low 6.70, but that's okay, I guess we didn't show all of our cards. We want to win a round, and then maybe win another round, and then maybe win another. If you're going to win one race then you want to win Indy and tomorrow we have a chance. It would be good for me, good for our team owner, good for everybody, our chassis builder, Steve Schmidt (engine builder), it would be good for this entire program."
-credit: gm racing