Anderson Clinches Third Consecutive NHRA Pro Stock Crown With No. 1 Qualifying Effort at Las Vegas
Joins Glidden, Shepherd as Season Title Holders Three Years in a Row
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 22, 2005 - To clinch his third consecutive NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship, Greg Anderson merely had to qualify his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO in the top half of the 16-car Pro Stock field for tomorrow's eliminations at the fifth annual ACDelco NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 44-year-old Minnesota native decided to due so in championship style and posted his seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season to clinch the 2005 Pro Stock crown. Anderson drove his Pontiac GTO to an elapsed time of 6.818 seconds at 201.97 mph to edge out Kurt Johnson in his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt, ironically his closest competitor in the points chase. Johnson had an elapsed time of 6.820 seconds at 202.76 mph.
"I love this racetrack," said Anderson. "It's always been very, very good to me, and I can't think of a better place to close this year's chapter and clinch that championship here in front of (team owner) Ken Black and all of his family and everybody that's done all this for me. I certainly wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Ken Black and all of his family. I just can't say enough about what he's done. It feels great to come here and have a chance to wrap her up in front of him in his hometown."
After a season for the ages with 15 Pro Stock wins in 19 final-round appearances, Anderson found himself uncharacteristically 10th in the points standings after this season's first two races. But he and his KB Racing team battled back to claim their third consecutive POWERade championship on the strength of winning eight national events through this year's first 21 of 23 races, advancing to 10 final rounds and earning now 7 raceday pole awards. The 2004 SPEED Driver of the Year introduced the GTO into Pro Stock competition in June at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver and quickly showed the new car's potential by capturing the No. 1 qualifying spot and setting low elapsed time of the meet. Anderson also gave the GTO its first victory in NHRA Pro Stock competition on July 31 at the Fram/Autolite Nationals in Sonoma (Calif.) and he won his third straight U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Sept. 5.
"We flat stunk when we were here in April," said Anderson. "We had doubts in our mind, and it just pounded home the fact that we somehow slipped up over the winter and we let everybody catch up. We didn't get our job done like we needed to. I don't know if we got a little overconfident or what happened. I really don't have the answer for it. Then we come here to the track that I know we've run well at and have had such great success, but we didn't get it done and we didn't run well. We got lucky, really, to get a runner-up to Kurt. That's really when it woke us up, and we said we've got to get back to work on this. We've got to figure out how to make this car faster. And really if you go back and look at it, ever since we left here in April, that's when kind of started regrouping. And then midway through the year we went to the GTOs, and that brought us right back to where we needed to be. Really since the debut of the GTO, we've gone forward every race and made better runs with it. The car's just been awesome."
Anderson became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver since Bob Glidden's run in 1985-89 to win three consecutive titles. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver joins Glidden and Lee Shepherd as the only Pro Stock drivers who have captured three consecutive NHRA crowns. It was also Pontiac's eighth NHRA Pro Stock title since 1996.
Other Pontiac drivers lining up behind the 2005 champ include Anderson's teammate in fourth, Mark Pawuk (9th), Warren Johnson (10th) and Jim Yates (14th).
Kurt Johnson is trying to win the title of his car sponsor's race, and the driver of the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt is off to a good start as the highest qualified Chevrolet in the No. 2 spot. Erica Enders and her Cagnazzi Racing team continue to make strides in the second half of the season, already reaching a class final at Chicago and now posting her best qualifying effort of her young career here at Las Vegas. Enders qualified her Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt third with an elapsed time of 6.827 seconds at 201.25 mph. Other Chevy drivers on the Pro Stock grid include Ron Krisher in sixth, Dave Connolly (11th), Greg Stanfield (12th), Rickie Smith (13th), and Bob Panella Jr. (15th).
"We're pretty pleased with the consistency of our ACDelco Chevy Cobalt this weekend," said Johnson. "We attacked the chassis after the last race, making sure everything was right, getting it back to where it needed to be. The clutch is working well, and I'm able to cut good lights with the way it's set up. Of course, qualifying is one thing and race day is another. We certainly want to win the ACDelco race, but we have to get by first round first. We race Bob Panella, but everybody in the top 16 is tough, so we're not going to worry about it. We're just going to do our jobs and whatever happens, happens."
"The last couple of races have been so amazing," Enders said. "Going to my first final in Chicago was unbelievable, and then our team follows that up with a semifinal finish at Dallas. Now we are No. 3 here in Las Vegas. This is like a dream and I hope I don't wake up from it anytime soon."
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon was the highest qualified Chevrolet in the No. 3 spot with an elapsed time of 4.760 seconds at 324.36 mph. Gary Scelzi took the top spot in a Dodge with a track-record elapsed time of 4.746 seconds at 327.90 mph. Tommy Johnson Jr. was right behind in the No. 4 spot with a 4.763 e.t. at 325.77 mph. Other Chevy qualifiers included Tony Pedregon (6th), Mike Ashley (10th), Tony Bartone (11th), Del Worsham (12th), Tim Wilkerson (15th) and Gary Densham (16th).
Morgan Lucas was the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel with an elapsed time of 4.508 seconds at 322.88 mph. Larry Dixon qualified 4th with an elapsed time of 4.524 seconds at 325.53 mph, and Cory McClenathan is qualified eighth.