Greg Anderson Leads Pro Stock Field Into Sunday Eliminator Pontiac GTO Sets Auto Club Raceway Track Record E.T. POMONA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2006 - Three-time NHRA POWERade champion Greg Anderson kicked off the new season in grand style this weekend...
Greg Anderson Leads Pro Stock Field Into Sunday Eliminator
Pontiac GTO Sets Auto Club Raceway Track Record E.T.
POMONA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2006 - Three-time NHRA POWERade champion Greg Anderson kicked off the new season in grand style this weekend at Auto Club Raceway by driving his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday's 16-car Pro Stock eliminator. Anderson's Pontiac set the Auto Club Raceway elapsed-time track record on Friday with a run of 6.665 seconds at 207.43 mph, and his record-setting quarter-mile dash withstood two additional rounds of time trials on Saturday to capture the raceday pole.
"You're always a little anxious when you roll out for the season opener," said Anderson. "That you're not going to perform well enough, that you're not going to live up to what you expect out of he team, and other people are going to make huge gains over the winter. It's obvious that quite a few guys have done their homework. It's going to take a 100 percent effort on behalf of this team tomorrow in order to get this Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to the finish line and get that Wally. We're cautiously optimistic, and we're happy with our results so far, but we know it's going to take an even better effort on Sunday to win the race. We have a lot of work to do yet."
For Anderson, it was his 41st career No. 1 qualifying effort, his third at Pomona Raceway and his second at the Winternationals. The 44-year-old North Carolina resident won this event in 2004, and his 6.677 e.t. in the final round of qualifying was the quickest lap of the day.
"Last night was good, but we'll have to stay out of that right lane on Sunday," said Anderson. "The starting line is tricky in that right lane - like staging on a banana peel. We need to make good runs and make sure we can run fast tomorrow and somehow keep lane choice. I wouldn't go so far as to say we were completely surprised that we ran this well but we're pretty happy about it."
Erica Enders has the quickest Cobalt in the field, qualifying in the No. 2 spot after driving her Slammers Chevrolet to a 6.678 e.t. and a career-best speed of 206.80 mph. Enders qualified in the No. 2 position at the 2005 season finale here last November.
"It felt good to come off the way we ended last season and to qualify the Slammers Chevy Cobalt No. 2 for this race," said Enders. "We were really excited about coming into 2006, although being qualified No. 2 adds that much more pressure, like last year I ended up losing to the No. 15 guy which never feels good. We're excited to have the horsepower and to be running as fast as we are. I'm really proud of this team, they've worked very hard over the offseason and the result is that we have the horsepower to run at the front of the pack."
Warren Johnson entered Saturday time trials outside the 16-car field, but rallied during the first session of qualifying to claim the No. 3 starting slot, driving the GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO to a 6.680 second e.t. at 207.43 mph.
"We had a good day today, coming through when we needed to," said Johnson. "We went back to the same type of set-up that we used here in the past, and our GM Performance Parts GTO responded beautifully. I don't think there was a lot left in this morning's run, maybe a hundredth or so at best.
"We experimented a little on this afternoon's run because we felt there wouldn't be any improvement, taking advantage of running in the right lane. It tends to go to heck in the afternoon, so we wanted to get some data in case we accidentally get stuck there tomorrow. We're optimistic about our chances for tomorrow. We know this engine will need some maintenance after this race, but it's given us good feedback so far this weekend, especially considering it had never been down the track before Thursday."
Anderson teammate Jason Line put his Pontiac GTO in the No. 5 starting slot with a run of 6.689 seconds at 206.95 mph. Mike Edwards is sixth in a Pontiac GTO, Rickie Smith is eighth in a Chevy Cobalt and Ron Krisher is ninth in a Chevy Cobalt.
"I'm not sure how to describe how this team feels tonight," said Edwards. "I think ecstatic is the best. We didn't know what to expect coming in here. I would have been tickled to death to be 16th and to qualify sixth is unbelievable. Hats off to Frank (Iaconio) and all the guys at the motor shop. They got an engine here for us on Thursday that's made this Young Life Pontiac very fast. The way we finished last year, we're hoping this effort can turn things around."
Mark Pawuk is qualified in the No. 10 position in a Pontiac GTO, Kurt Johnson is 11th in a Chevy Cobalt and Greg Stanfield is 12th in a Pontiac GTO.
"We made a lot of progress this weekend with our Pontiac GTO," said Pawuk. "We kind of struggled during the second and third qualifying session - unfortunately we didn't make a good run this morning. We came back in the heat of the afternoon and ran fast in the right lane, which is where I'm sure we'll be in the morning. I'd love to be able to start out this year like I finished last season with my driving, but you never know. The guys have done a great job and we'll do the best we can. Ron Krisher and his guys have given us some great horsepower to work with. If we make the right calls, and the driver does his job, you never know what can happen. Everyone's very upbeat after our four qualifying sessions. We know we could have run better, which is very encouraging, but hey, first race out, we're content - we're in the show."
Jim Yates took the No. 13 position in a Pontiac GTO, Dave Connolly is 14th in a Chevy Cobalt and Bob Panella is 16th in a Chevy Cobalt.
"We're a lot closer to where we need to be than when we got here," said Yates. "Grump's (Bill Jenkins) got a lot of power under the hood of our Pontiac GTO. We changed engines before that last run - we put the weakest motor he had here back in the car so we could get down the track. It ran pretty good - seventh or eighth for the session. We have to figure out how to get through low gear. We'll work on the car and the clutch and see what we can come up with."
Defending Winternationals champion Tommy Johnson Jr. drove the Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to the No. 2 starting position running 4.710 at 328.30 mph in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history.
"For starting off with having all of the problems, and not getting our e.t. on Thursday because of the clocks getting taken out, and just trying too hard on Friday hoping to get it to stick, the team did a nice rebound today," said Johnson. "The pressure was on and our backs were against the wall, but they stepped up. We tried to run conservatively this morning but they were going for it tonight - they stood on it trying to run in the 4.60s. I think the rev limiter may have got us on the other end - it nosed over pretty good before the lights but this Chevy Monte Carlo is real close to running 4.60 consistently.
"To go into raceday the No. 2 qualifier versus No. 12 last year when we won the race, the confidence level on this team is real high. To be able to be the last pair in line and take your shot, swing for the fence. We knocked it over the fence we just didn't get it out of the park."
Tony Pedregon is qualified in the No. 4 position, Tim Wilkerson is seventh, Gary Densham is eighth, Phil Burkart is ninth, Del Worsham is 13th, Tony Bartone is 14th and Cruz Pedregon is 16th - all in Chevy Monte Carlos.