Anderson Ready to Pull a Win Out of Thin Air in Denver
Under the best of circumstances, competing in the NHRA’s Pro Stock division is a tough assignment. With entire fields separated by a few hundredths of a second and wins and losses often determined by mere thousandths, every facet of a team’s operation must perform at its best to have any chance at success.
However, at this weekend’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Colo., the bar will be raised even higher, as the thin air will rob the naturally-aspirated “factory hot rods” of vital horsepower, requiring a set-up so different that it drastically alters how the cars are run. As defending Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson explains, the required changes not only affect his Summit Racing Pontiac’s performance, but also the manner in which it should be driven.
“Compared to everywhere else, running our Summit Racing Pontiac in Denver feels like we have a restrictor plate bolted on,” said Anderson. “But it actually goes much deeper than that. For years, we have built these cars for a certain power level, so if your power level changes, so do your chassis settings.
“This weekend, we will have to take a chassis built and tuned to run with 1400 horsepower and find a way to make it run with only a thousand. The easiest way to explain it is that we lift off the gas cap and change everything underneath. It is a challenge to say the least, and to be honest, none of us have truly mastered it. It’s something we do once a year so we adapt as best as we can.
“It’s also the toughest place for a driver to do his job effectively. I know some people find that hard to believe because we run so much slower, but it’s actually harder to hit your shift points because you have to put so much gear ratio in the car to try and compensate for the lack of power that you go through the gears quicker than you do at sea level. It’s a unique deal, but that’s what NHRA drag racing is all about.”
Despite any concerns about having to venture far out of their comfort zone, the KB Racing team has had its share of success at Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend’s race. Having reached its winners’ circle in 2004 & 2008, Anderson is one of only four active Pro Stock racers coming into the weekend with multiple wins “on the mountain”, a record of success he looks to add to this weekend.
“We look forward to racing at Bandimere Speedway every year,” said Anderson. “The area is absolutely beautiful and the Bandimeres are just fantastic people who are great to deal with. It’s also fun because we have a lot of friends and relatives who come to the race because it’s so unique.
“One of the biggest keys to the weekend is making sure you keep proper notes. First, you have to know exactly what changes you’re going to make before the race, and then you have to know how to get it back to its original tune-up afterwards because five days after we’re done in Denver we’ll be racing at sea level in Sonoma. It’s something we’ve done for years and been fairly successful doing it, so we’re familiar with the drill, and hopefully we’ve learned a little each time that we can use this weekend.”
Coming off their impressive sweep of the Joliet event ten days ago, both driver and crew are ready to return to the track. However, as the start of the demanding Western Swing, where the world’s best quarter-milers compete on three consecutive weekends in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle, extra time was spent during their pre-race preparations to ensure they will be ready for every eventuality.
“The Western Swing is one of the most demanding periods of the season, especially for a team based on the East Coast,” said Anderson. “Once our rigs leave the shop for Denver, they won’t have the opportunity to return home until after Seattle, so we have to plan for every possibility. Basically we take everything that isn’t bolted down and load it on the truck, including every engine in our inventory, trying to make sure our Summit Racing Pontiacs make it through the three races with good power.
“It’s an incredible challenge, racing on consecutive weekends on completely different tracks, and something I look forward to every year. Throughout the course of my career I’ve been fortunate to do rather well on the Swing, including sweeping in 2004. That’s our goal for this year. Of course, to do that, you have to win Denver, so we certainly have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, our program seems to be on an upswing, so we’re ready to get going.”
By: kb racing