Pontiac's Greg Anderson Captures Second Straight Winternationals Crown Three-Time NHRA Champion Drives GTO to Third Consecutive Victory at Pomona POMONA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2007 - Pontiac's Greg Anderson kicked off the 2007 NHRA POWERade...
Pontiac's Greg Anderson Captures Second Straight Winternationals Crown
Three-Time NHRA Champion Drives GTO to Third Consecutive Victory at Pomona
POMONA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2007 - Pontiac's Greg Anderson kicked off the 2007 NHRA POWERade season by winning the 47th annual CarQuest NHRA Winternationals at Automobile Club of Southern California Raceway. The three-time POWERade Pro Stock champion, who won the season-ending race at this venue last November, defeated Greg Stanfield in the all-GTO final round to claim his second straight Winternationals victory and his third consecutive win at this track.
"This racetrack is magic for me," said Anderson. "It plays right into our game plan, it's a nice race surface and 60-degree weather is something our cars like. You can throw everything you have at this track, you run as fast as you can and that's where horsepower shows up. On a hot, greasy track, you can't use all of that power and it evens out the field. You come to Pomona, race in conditions like this, use all you have, show what you've built over the winter, and the car with the most power wins.
"Maybe we did just a little bit better over the winter. We went forward with the DRCE3, it was a risky, all-or-nothing-move, but something we needed to do to gain extra ground through the year, and so far it looks like it was a pretty good decision. To start out like this with the '3' shows that it's an outstanding piece. I couldn't be happier."
Anderson qualified his Summit Racing Pontiac in the No. 1 position after posting a 6.634 e.t. at a track-record speed of 209.04 mph. It was Anderson's 52nd career pole, tying him with legendary driver Don Prudhomme for sixth on the list for the most No. 1 qualifying awards by an NHRA professional driver. Since his first championship season in 2003, Anderson has been the No. 1 qualifier at 53% (49 out of 93) of the races he's entered.
"It's the group we have at the track and the team we have at the shop that get it done," said Anderson. "I just get to drive this Pontiac GTO. I think maybe I'm a little hungrier, though, than I've been in the last couple of years and I decided to grit my teeth and go after it. You have to be on your game at all times, you have to be aggressive, you've got to have that killer instinct, and I had it this weekend."
Running a "used car" but a new GM DRCE3 engine, the Summit Racing Pontiac driver defeated Richie Stevens in round one running 6.641 seconds, Mike Edwards in round two with a 6.640 e.t. and Dave Connolly in round three with a elapsed time of 6.651 seconds. In the all-GTO final against Stanfield, Anderson crossed the stripe first with a 6.651 second run at 207.05 mph. Stanfield, whose Pontiac was consistently quick all afternoon, bobbled slightly at halftrack, and slowed to 7.001 e.t. at 163.65 mph.
"That GTO was run in Comp Eliminator all last year," explained Anderson. "We switched over to Rick Jones racecars at the end of last year, Jason and I, and I won the last race of the year with an RJ car. We needed a spare car, but Rick was backed up for six months, so we looked around and found a used one and bought it from Richard Freeman. We made a lot of changes to it, and it ended up running better than my primary car. The used one looked so good in testing that we decided to take a chance with it. It was risky but it paid off."
For Anderson, it was the Minnesota native's 44th career victory, his third Winternationals win (2004, 2005-06) and his sixth career "Wally" at Auto Club Raceway. Since his first championship season in 2003, Anderson has won 43% percent of the races he's entered or 40 of the last 93 Pro Stock eliminators. It was also Pontiac's 172nd all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition. "My hat's off to GM and the work they done with this engine," said Anderson. "They've been so good to me over the years. Every time they design a new car, it comes out better. Every time GM design's an engine, it comes out better. To hit the ground running with the DRCE3 like it is, obviously GM has done their homework, they've designed a great engine, they plopped it in our lap and let us go to work on it. It's the future of the class."
Stanfield came into the day with his PiranaZ Pontiac qualified in the No. 10 position. He defeated Kurt Johnson in round one, V. Gaines in round two and Jason Line in round three, running 6.698 seconds, 6.671 seconds and 6.676 seconds (in that order).
"Just call me the bridesmaid," said Stanfield, who is still looking for his first Pro Stock win after going to four final rounds in the category. "I really felt like we had something for Greg in the finals. Our PiranaZ Pontiac made three real good runs today and we thought we could tune it up for the finals, but we ran after the fuel cars and my car didn't like it at all. I hit fourth gear and it just blew the tires off. It wasn't worth me wadding this thing up in the wall to try and beat him. There's always another day. All in all, for having our backup engine in this weekend, we lost our good one in Las Vegas, to come out here and do this, this is awesome.
"Our goal coming in was to qualify and go a round or two. Now we're second in the points, but now it's time to go home and go to work, and try to go rounds at every race. That would put us in the top eight - we're excited. There are a pack of cars of about 10 or 12 that are real close, and right now Greg is just a tick better than the rest of us. They've raised the bar and it's our job to keep our heads down, work hard and catch up. We need to get our primary engine back together for Phoenix. We're also going to take the car back to the shop, go over a few things and see if we can pick it up a little bit. If we do, we'll be dangerous."
In addition to Anderson and Stanfield, a total of four drivers in GM-branded cars advanced to the semifinal round in Pro Stock including defending series champion Jason Line in a Pontiac, and Chevy Cobalt driver Dave Connolly. Line defeated Warren Johnson and Jeg Coughlin before losing to Stanfield, and Connolly eliminated Max Naylor and Rodger Brogdon before losing to Anderson.
"At this point you're always trying to win," said Connolly. "But to have both of our Chevy Cobalts qualify in the top half and run that close to Greg in the bad lane in the semis, that's a good way to start the season. Greg has the ride right now and we still ran within two hundredths of him. I definitely have a good hot rod, but he kicked our tail that time. He left on me by two hundredths and he out ran me by two hundredths. Greg's been driving awesome today, he really has and when you combine that with a great car, then that's tough to beat.
"I felt like I could go a 'teen' on the tree, maybe hang him out a little bit to try and throw him off his game, but that certainly didn't work at all. He was .004 and I missed it. My left foot didn't cooperate today and I definitely left some on the table. Still, we're happy with the performance of the car, our motors ran extremely well, and we were second or third fastest all week. We have an awesome car. We'll work on things for a week and a half and get ready to go again in Phoenix."
The next race on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour is the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., on Feb. 23 - 25.
-credit: gm racing