Anderson Holds On To No. 1 in Pro Stock at St. Louis Puts His Pontiac GTO in Top Spot for Sixth Time in Season's First 12 Races MADISON, Ill., June 24, 2006 - After two rounds of qualifying yesterday for the 10th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest...
Anderson Holds On To No. 1 in Pro Stock at St. Louis
Puts His Pontiac GTO in Top Spot for Sixth Time in Season's First 12 Races
MADISON, Ill., June 24, 2006 - After two rounds of qualifying yesterday for the 10th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, Greg Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to the quickest elapsed time and top spot on the Pro Stock grid. He wasn't the quickest car in today's final two rounds of qualifying, but the three-time defending POWERade Pro Stock champ was quick enough to hang on for his sixth No. 1 qualifier in the season's first 12 races and the 46th of his career. Anderson had a Gateway track-record elapsed time of 6.692 seconds at a track-record speed of 206.23 mph. He narrowly edged out the matching elapsed time of 6.693 seconds for Chevy driver Kurt Johnson and Pontiac driver Jim Yates. Johnson was awarded the No. 2 qualifying position on the strength a faster speed of 205.91 mph to Yates' 205.72 mph.
"We definitely started out [this weekend] like we had a lot of promise coming in, and we made a nice run last night," said Anderson, "but to be honest with you, we didn't gain ground today. We kind of went backwards on the tune-up of the car, so a little disappointed, actually, with our performance today. We've got to go do it tomorrow, turn things around, figure out what went wrong today and get back closer to what we had going yesterday. We obviously had a car that was happy yesterday and it became unhappy today, so we've got to figure out what we did wrong."
Anderson now looks to translate his success in qualifying to more wins on Sunday during eliminations. He faces fellow Pontiac driver Steve Schmidt in tomorrow's first round.
"There are a lot of guys out there right now that are driving the wheels off of there cars, and there are a lot of fast cars. If you don't perform perfectly out there on Sunday anymore, you're not going to win. We've been making mistakes between myself and the car, a little bit here and a little bit there, but mostly on my part. We've just been a little bit off on one run or another, and that's going to spell defeat in Pro Stock. That's the beauty of this class. We don't have the edge that we had last year or the year before in performance because a lot of guys have caught up to us. We have a lot of competition right now out there. It's not necessarily that we're doing that bad of a job, there's just a lot of guys that are doing a great job right now. You can't possibly pick a winner come Sunday morning anymore the way it is out there. Hey, we're on the inside, we're like inside traders, and we don't have a clue who's going to win. It's pretty amazing right now."
Other Pontiac qualifiers joining Anderson and Yates in the 16-car field are Anderson's teammate Jason Line in eight, Greg Stanfield (10th), Mike Edwards (11th), Mark Pawuk (15th) and Steve Schmidt (16th).
"The car's felt really good all weekend," said Yates. "The weather conditions have been as varied as you can imagine. A lot of different conditions have been thrown at us and (son) Jamie and 'Grump' (Bill Jenkins) have really adapted and given us a fast GTO to run every run. We've been in the top couple of cars every session, and we were within a thousandth of No. 1 qualifier. On the one hand you want to kick yourself in the butt for not getting the pole because we left a lot on the table last night when we made that run. This morning we came out and we made a really sweet run and we were the fastest for the session. Hopefully we'll stay in that left lane tomorrow and have lane choice."
Chevy qualifiers joining defending event champ Kurt Johnson include Ron Krisher in fifth, Erica Enders (6th), Dave Connolly (7th) and Dave Howard (9th).
"Overall, we're pretty pleased," said Johnson. "Our ACDelco Chevy Cobalt seems to be running well, and I seem to be doing my job behind the wheel. Of course, everyone will be on their game tomorrow, so we have to make sure and stay focused. The biggest key is getting our car to go straight. If we do that on a consistent basis, it's an obvious area where we can pick up our performance. Hopefully, tomorrow we can keep doing what we have been over the last few races, putting a package together that can go some rounds. As I told my crew guys this morning, we are on a mission to defend our win at this race from a year ago, and we have about 24 hours left to complete that mission. It's time to get ourselves in the zone."
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. continues to impress in his Chevy Monte Carlo, pairing his No. 1 qualifier at Chicago two weeks ago with the No. 3 qualifying position today to lead the way for Team Chevy. Johnson had an elapsed time of 4.813 seconds at 323.81 mph to trail No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight and No. 2 Whit Bazemore. Other Chevy drivers joining Johnson in the 16-car Funny Car field are yesterday's provisional No. 1 qualifier Del Worsham who dropped a few spots to fifth, Cruz Pedregon (9th), Scott Kalitta (10th), Gary Densham (11th), Tony Pedregon (12th), Phil Burkart Jr. (13th), Jeff Arend (14th) and Tony Bartone (15th).
"[Last night's run] was 100% totally my dad's, he called the shot," Worsham said. "We found a little glitch we had in the car, for how many runs I'm not sure, but it's probably what caused us to smoke the tires in Round 1 last weekend, so we had a better handle on what the car was going to do. As we were finalizing the tune-up, he stood right up and said, 'This is what we're going to do' and his call was pretty aggressive. We've just been so close, but always behind this year, so we went for it and hit it pretty well. That's not to say we're going for the jugular on every lap from here out, but we're going to push hard to be fast."
In addition to his regular Team CSK teammate, Phil Burkart Jr., Worsham has a second teammate for this weekend's race as Jeff Arend stepped into a third Worsham Racing car vacated by Mike Ashley. Arend responded to the faith the Worsham's showed in him by qualifying the Murray Discount Auto Stores Chevy Monte Carlo 14th with an elapsed time of 4.941 seconds at 314.68 mph.
"I can't say enough for the Worsham's calling me up," said Arend. "This is a great team and I walked into a fantastic bunch of guys. That third session we probably would've been low for the session, but I started to spin the tires a little bit so I needed to shut it off. This is a little different car, a different crew, all that kind of stuff, but I've been driving for a long time so I give myself a little bit of credit. But when you get in a really good car, it makes it a lot easier. When Del called up he said, 'This car drives nicer than mine.' Now, what else is he going to say to me, but he was telling the truth, it runs great."