POMONA, Calif., Oct. 30, 2007 - It's been nine months since GM Racing's contingent of NHRA racers began their quest for the 2007 POWERade championship at the CarQuest Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway. After 22 events and an exciting...
POMONA, Calif., Oct. 30, 2007 - It's been nine months since GM Racing's contingent of NHRA racers began their quest for the 2007 POWERade championship at the CarQuest Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway. After 22 events and an exciting season in which new national performance standards were established, the season has come full circle and will come to a close this weekend at the 43rd annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. Still to be determined in the Pro Stock category is who will leave the racetrack Sunday night as the new champion, and three GM drivers, Team Chevy's Dave Connolly and Jeg Coughlin, and Pontiac's Greg Anderson, will be pulling out all the stops in their quest to win the 2007 title.
Greg Anderson is looking to join Bob Glidden (10), Warren Johnson (6) and Lee Shepherd (4) as the only Pro Stock drivers to win four or more NHRA Pro Stock titles. The 46-year-old driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac has had another outstanding year behind the wheel of his DRCE3-powered GTO capturing eight wins (Pomona, Gainesville, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Topeka, Englishtown, Sonoma and Las Vegas 2), advancing to 12 final rounds, earning 11 No. 1 qualifying awards, setting low e.t. of the meet 10 times and top speed 15 times. At Sonoma (Calif.) he became the second quickest driver in the history of the NHRA (behind Bob Glidden) to reach 50 career national-event victories. At Gainesville (Fla.), Anderson's 6.536 second run set a national record for the Pro Stock category, and ran his streak to five consecutive seasons in which the Pontiac driver has established a new national e.t. mark.
Anderson's most recent win at Las Vegas on Oct. 28, was the 180th all time in NHRA Pro Stock for Pontiac, and the Summit Racing GTO driver has the most victories behind the wheel of a Pontiac with 49. Anderson has six career victories at Auto Club Raceway including three at the NHRA Winternationals (2004, 2006-07) and three at the NHRA Finals (2003-04, 2006). Anderson has won the last three times the series has competed at Pomona. He'll head to California in first place in the standings with a 34 point lead over second-place Coughlin, and a 48 point lead over third-place Connolly.
"We've got the bull's eye on our back, no doubt about that," said Anderson following his win in Las Vegas. "But I'd much rather be in that position. I really didn't like being the chaser. I'd rather be the chasee. That's what we've been the last few years and I'd like to be that guy they're shooting for. The bigger the pressure the better we seem to perform. I can't imagine more pressure that what we had today."
Jeg Coughlin hopes to join an elite group of Pro Stock drivers that includes Glidden, Warren Johnson, Shepherd, Anderson and Darrell Alderman as the only Pro Stock drivers to win three or more NHRA crowns. The driver of the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt has made the most of his return this season to the ranks of the Red Bowtie Brigade and has aptly delivered with three victories (Chicago, Bristol and Brainerd), seven final-round appearances, four No. 1 qualifying awards and low elapsed time of the meet four times.
Coughlin is a five-time winner at Auto Club Raceway with two victories at the NHRA Winternationals (1999-2000) and three victories at the NHRA Finals (1999, 2001, 2005). He'll enter the NHRA Finals in second place in the standings.
"As we predicted, the championship will probably come down to the very end and it's exciting to be right in the middle of it all," Coughlin said. "Greg's (Anderson) got a little lead on us so it's on us to out-perform him in Pomona. I feel confident this team will be up to the challenge, especially after turning the corner like we did in Las Vegas."
Dave Connolly, who entered the final phase of the Countdown to the Championship in first place will be trying to capture his first POWERade championship, and at the age of 24, would be the youngest driver in the history of the category to claim the Pro Stock crown. Although it took him until the first week of May to win his first race in 2007, the driver of the Torco Racing Fuels Chevy Cobalt has captured a career-best eight national-event victories (St. Louis, Norwalk, Seattle, Reading, Indianapolis, Memphis, Dallas and Richmond), advanced to nine finals rounds, set low elapsed time of the meet five times and earned top qualifying honors twice. By advancing to the Countdown to 1 phase of the championship, the Ohio native locked up his fourth consecutive top-five POWERade points finish
At Richmond, Connolly put his name on an elite list of Pro Stock drivers that have won five consecutive races, joining the legendary Bob Glidden (9 consecutive wins), Ronnie Sox (5) and Greg Anderson (5). Connolly's 17 career wins places him third on the list for Pro Stock victories in a Chevrolet behind Kurt Johnson and Lee Shepherd (both with 26). Connolly's lone win at Auto Club Raceway came at the 2005 NHRA Winternationals when he defeated Warren Johnson in the finals. His most recent win at Richmond (Va.) was the 146th all time for Chevrolet in the Pro Stock category.
"This team is very strong and we want to finish no worse than second," Connolly said. "It will be very disappointing if we don't finish at least second after the season that we've had."
In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon in his Q Horsepower Chevy Impala SS will lead the four-driver Funny Car field for the Countdown to 1 into Pomona with a nearly insurmountable 91-point lead over Gary Scelzi after his race win at Las Vegas this past weekend. The 2003 NHRA POWERade champ leads the POWERade standings with 3,147 points, Gary Scelzi is in second with 3,056 points, Force Racing's Robert Hight is in third with 3,048, and Ron Capps is in fourth with 3,034.
"We've got to qualify and do whatever it takes," Pedregon said. "Until they hand me that check, I'm going to keep racing like I always have been."
-credit: gm racing