Anderson Sets Sights on Sixth U.S. Nationals Win Mooresville, N.C., August 31, 2009 -- In almost every sport, there is one event which stands above all the others, occupying a special place among competitors and fans. For example, in golf,...
Anderson Sets Sights on Sixth U.S. Nationals Win
Mooresville, N.C., August 31, 2009 -- In almost every sport, there is one event which stands above all the others, occupying a special place among competitors and fans. For example, in golf, there is the Masters tournament, while horse racing has the Kentucky Derby. In the world of auto racing, there is the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and this weekend's NHRA race at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, IN, the Mac Tools U.S. National s. In each case, a win is considered a career-defining moment, and a definite requirement on any complete competitive resume.
As much a drag racing fan as he is a top competitor, Summit Racing Pontiac driver Greg Anderson is well aware of the significance of the NHRA's Labor Day classic. As such, he enters this weekend's edition determined to add to his already sterling record at his sport's biggest race.
"The U.S. Nationals have always been more important to me than ten other races combined," said Anderson. "I don't know if it came from my upbringing with my father, or when I was working on teams with John Hagan and Warren Johnson, but I absolutely believe this race is the biggest in the sport of drag racing. The years that I won the ch ampionship, I honestly felt that if I didn't win Indy, my year was not complete, because I consider it to be just as important as winning the championship.
"When our Summit Racing team pulls on to the grounds at ORP, I just get a different feeling than I do at any other track we go to. I know some people say it's just another race, and that the points are the same, but I don't look at it that way. I treat it like it's the most important race of the year."
Anderson's esteem for the "Big Go", as this race is affectionately known, has been rewarded with an impressive on-track performance. In only nine career starts at the Hoosier State quarter-mile, he has already scored five wins in sev en final round appearances, coming within one round of being the first professional to win Indianapolis in five consecutive years. It is easy to see why this race is one of the Charlotte, NC resident's favorites, where he credits his KB Racing team's extensive preparation for his singular success.
"I can't really pinpoint why we've been so successful at the U.S. Nationals," said Anderson. "I guess it could have something to do with my believing it's so special that I prepare that much more, or dig down deeper and race that much harder. Whatever the reason, our Summit Racing team always seems to put in a better effort at Indy. We treat it like it's more important, and maybe that's why we've had so much success there."
On the strength of his stellar 29-4 elimination round record at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Anderson comes into this weekend armed with a virtual encyclopedia of tuning notes on the venerable racing surface, which, combined with his team's performance of late, bodes well for his chances of a sixth U.S. Nationals victory. Having slightly altered his pre-race preparation from previous years and with the largest Pro Stock field of the year expected, the three-time Pro Stock champion is quietly confident but knows he will have no room for error.
"I've always loved the surface at O'Reilly Raceway Park," said Anderson. "It's a very, very good racetrack, very flat and smooth, and by the time you get to Saturday and Sunday, once you leave the starting line, it's a better surface than we'll see all year long. I don't know if it's because it's that good or because of the amount of cars that are running there throughout the weekend, but it just ends up being a better quality track, so you don't have a lot of excuses for not running well there. I've always gone here to test in the past and sworn I always would given our success there.
"However, this year will be the exception, as we opted to test here in Charlotte instead, as this is where we will start the Countdown. I hope that decision won't come back to bite us, although I noticed we weren't the only ones in Pro Stock who didn't test in Indy, so I feel a little better about our decision.
"We're obviously never 100% satisfied, but I feel good about our Summit Racing team heading into this weekend. We're headed in the right direction, and things are definitely getting better, and I believe we are now in the position of having a good shot at winning every race we go to, which I couldnE2t have said a few races ago. We definitely have confidence after that first win in Brainerd, and hope it carries over into this weekend, giving us a chance to win Indy."
Finally, this race is the final event before the start of the NHRA's championship playoff, the Countdown to One. Having clinched his spot several races ago, Anderson's attention has turned to ensuring he hits the post-season in full stride, with the dual benefit of winning the biggest race of the Full Throttle Drag Racing season.
"As far as the Countdown is concerned, this race is a lot like the last game of the regular season in football," stated Anderson. "We know we're pretty much locked into fourth, but we still want to end on a high note, peaking as we go into the playoffs. I think our Summit Racing team has done very well the last three or four races, and certainly don't want to stumble this weekend, so it's very important for us to have a good race.
"Besides, I still go to every race looking to win, and even more so when it's Indy. With apologies to the NHRA, I'm not really thinking about the Countdown or points this weekend, because this is the U.S. Nationals, I am going there to win."