Greg Anderson Wins Pro Stock at Maple Grove in Pontiac GTO, Phil Burkart Captures Funny Car in Chevy Monte Carlo Frank Manzo Clinches 10th Alcohol Funny Car Title in Chevrolet - 66th Career National-Event Victory READING, Pa., Oct. 1, 2006 ...
Greg Anderson Wins Pro Stock at Maple Grove in Pontiac GTO, Phil Burkart Captures Funny Car in Chevy Monte Carlo
Frank Manzo Clinches 10th Alcohol Funny Car Title in Chevrolet - 66th Career National-Event Victory
READING, Pa., Oct. 1, 2006 - Greg Anderson captured his third Pro Stock win of the season today at the 22nd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals after defeating Greg Stanfield in an all Pontiac GTO final round. It was the sixth final-round appearance for Anderson this year and his second straight victory at Maple Grove Raceway. With only three races remaining on the schedule it allowed the three-time defending POWERade champion to narrow the deficit with first-place Jason Line to 56 points.
"This was a great day, and a great weekend for the Summit Racing Pontiac team," said Anderson. "I was pretty happy in the finals when I saw that scoreboard blinking. My heart was pumping hard in that car all day long. We almost made it to the finals with both GTOs - that would have been a lot of fun. I just need to keep chipping away at Jason's points lead. When the weather's like this we just love to drive in these kind of conditions. These cars are on the edge and they are exciting to drive. It was quite a weekend for the Pro Stock class in general. The national record changed hands four times before Jason (Line) finally ended up with it. If you're fan of Pro Stock racing, you certainly didn't leave here this weekend disappointed."
Anderson entered today's eliminator with his Summit racing Pontiac qualified in the No. 2 position after setting a national-record top speed of 208.91 mph. He defeated Max Naylor in round one with a 6.618 e.t. at 208.62 mph, Kurt Johnson in round two with a 6.615 e.t. at 208.84 mph and Mike Edwards in round three with a 6.615 e.t. at 208.71 mph. That set up a final round matchup with Stanfield, who entered the race with his Pontiac GTO qualified in the No. 1 spot. In the championship heat, Anderson's Pontiac charged to a winning 6.656 second run at 208.36 mph. Stanfield fouled at the starting line with a red light penalty and coasted to a 7.742 second run at 120.23 mph.
"I love this place - I love going to a place where we can go fast," said Anderson. "These cars make a lot of power when you have air like this, and it probably adds 50 horsepower to them. We're not used to that. We don't run in these conditions very often. Usually it's a one-shot a year deal, and we're not well versed at it. It's tough to make a smooth run when you have power like this, but Jason's GTO was pretty close to perfect in the second round when he got the record. It's a lot fun and we got our Pontiac through the goalposts four times."
It marked the 42nd career win for Anderson and the third straight year that he has advanced to the final round at Maple Grove Raceway. It was also Pontiac's 169th all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
"It's going to be a heck of a battle for the rest of the season," said Anderson. "My GTO is going to have to be dead, solid perfect on every run if I want that fourth title, or Jason's going to win it. But if he does, I'll be very proud of him and what he's accomplished. He's done a whale of a job this year."
Making his third career final-round appearance as a Pro Stock driver, Greg Stanfield was hoping to capture his first victory in the factory hot rod category. Qualifying his Piranha Z Pontiac GTO in the No. 1 spot with a 6.621 e.t., the Bossier City, La. resident held the national record going into today's eliminator. He defeated Dave Northrop in round one, Allen Johnson in round two, and Jason Line in round three before losing to Anderson in the finals. This weekend's effort moved Stanfield from 10th in the POWERade points standing all the way up to eighth place.
"We went to the starting line loaded up," explained Stanfield about his final-round race with Anderson. "I needed to hit the tree a little harder because he was going to be a little faster. Obviously he tried to do the same thing with me, but hey, what can you say? I pushed too hard.
"Our car ran great all weekend long, probably the most consistent it's been in a long time. Hopefully we can get that first win sometime before the season's over, but finishing in the top 10 would be a terrific accomplishment. We're absolutely tickled with the way this whole weekend went."
In addition to Greg Anderson and Greg Stanfield, two other Pontiac GTO drivers advanced to the semifinals including Jason Line and Mike Edwards. Line defeated Larry Morgan in round one and Dave Connolly in round two, running 6.619 seconds in the first session and a national-record 6.609-second e.t. in the quarterfinals. Line lost in the semifinals to Stanfield, but the national-record run in round two was worth an additional 20 bonus points in a very close title race.
"The Summit Racing Pontiac ran great all weekend, and the team did a bang-up job preparing the racecar," said Line. "I was hoping to run down Greg (Stanfield) at the end there but it wasn't to be. He did what he had to do to win the race and may hat's off to him."
Edwards advanced to the semifinals with a round-one win over Warren Johnson and a round-two win over Tom Martino before losing to Greg Anderson in the semifinals.
"I can't complain," said Edwards. "We're real happy with the way the Young Life Pontiac has run these past two weeks. We had the runner-up last weekend in Dallas and now we went a couple of rounds today. Everyone on this team did a great job. We qualified toward the top of the ladder, we're right there. I could have done a better job on that run against Greg (Anderson), but that's the way it goes. To get out of here with a semifinal showing, we're pretty pleased. We're ready to move on.
"Anytime you can come out here and qualify well, and run well, with a pretty good shot at winning the race, you have to be pleased. We slipped up on one but that happens. We're not the king of the hill, but we're not far off. We're about halfway up there."
In Funny Car, Phil Burkart won his first national event of the season driving the Halvoline/CSK Chevy Monte Carlo past Robert Hight in the finals. Burkart qualified his Chevrolet in the No. 12 spot, and then defeated Ron Capps in round one with a 4.783 second run at 322.81 mph, Gary Scelzi in round two with a 4.816 e.t. at 321.88 mph, and John Force in the semifinals with a 4.816 second run at 245.09 mph. In the finals against Robert Hight, both cars lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line, but Burkart was able to calm down his tire-smoking Chevrolet, and skillfully maneuvered it across the finish line first with a 7.528 e.t. at 203.92 mph. Hight's Ford followed with a 9.772 second time at 93.56 mph.
"We had a great racecar that was going down the track all day," said Burkart. "We had a mishap in the semifinals with an engine failure and a blower snout failure, but the win light came on in every round and that's why we're here on Sunday. We didn't back into this win by any means. We took out Ron Capps, who was the points leader and has several wins on the season already. Then we had Gary Scelzi, world champ, we take him out. Next round, you can't get a much bigger matchup than John Force, and anytime you beat him at your hometrack, it's got to be good. You appreciate every win you have because you never know if it's going to be your last.
"In the finals, we smoked the tires just like we did at Dallas last weekend, but this time, I had the presence of mind to reach down, grab the brake and slow the wheel speed down. I talked to my crew chiefs, Marc Denner and Chris Cunningham after our race in Dallas last weekend, and there's no way to regain traction after it smokes the tires so early like that. This time I rode the brake, and worked the pedal down the racetrack and was fortunate to get the win."
It was Burkart's first victory since the 2004 Mile-High Nationals in Denver, and it allowed the Yorkville, N.Y. resident to advance to ninth place in the Funny Car points standings.
"Everything absolutely fell into place for us today," said Burkart. "Being one of the closest tracks to my house, we have a lot of fans, a lot of friends, and a lot of people I grew up racing with. I raced a couple of times a year here, and with my dad here today, the win couldn't have happened at a better time or a better place."
Frank Manzo of Morganville, N.J., clinched his 10th NHRA Lucas Oil Alcohol Funny Car championship by driving the Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo to his 66th national-event victory - his seventh straight at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Manzo entered the Alcohol Funny Car eliminator with his Chevrolet qualified in the No. 1 position. He defeated Jeff McCulloch in round one with a 5.550 e.t. at 258.67 mph, Bobby Martin in round two with a 5.547 e.t. at 258.37 mph and Frank Schuster in round three with a 5.545 e.t. at 259.259.16 mph. In the finals against the Ford Mustang of Bob Tasca III, Manzo's Chevrolet launched first with a .046 reaction time and never trailed, crossing the stripe with a winning 5.564 second run at 256.26 mph. The Ford followed with a 5.591 e.t. at 258.81 mph. Manzo's margin of victory was .040 of a second.
"We came in here with a little more pressure on us knowing that if we could win this race we would lock up our 10th championship," said Manzo. "The first run really put us on the track because I guessed right. With all the rain that we had I knew we would have a minimal amount of qualifying so we went up there and ran 5.56. We pulled up for the second run, and tried something the car didn't like, so we didn't do that again, staying with the setup that gave us the good number in the first qualifying session. We ran consistent numbers the rest of the weekend keeping just enough wing in to keep this Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo planted every run. We were able to keep lane choice, we didn't hurt anything, and we just had a dream weekend. My guys did a great job, and here we are again in the Maple Grove winner's circle.
"We're still not done taking points. We'll go to Richmond next weekend and then the divisional race in two weeks at Atco (N.J.). We could better our points even more. There's never a time when Frank Manzo and his crew will ever stop trying, or go into test mode, or start taking it easy. That's not how we race. We'll have a lot of fun next weekend and maybe we'll turn that Monte Carlo up and see just how fast she'll go. This weekend a lot of people were waiting for me to run a 5.49 - the air was good enough to run 5.46, but the track didn't see enough sun, and it's a little too bumpy to make that kind of run in an Alcohol Funny Car. We need stellar air and a stellar racing surface. There's only a few tracks like that, but we'll see what we can do in Virginia. Now we can go get sized for our tuxedos and book our flights for California. We'll go to Pomona for a day or two and then to the banquet."
Other Sportsman winners this weekend included Arnie Martel in Competition Eliminator in a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, Dan Fletcher in Super Stock in a Chevy Camaro, and Thomas Stalba in Super Gas in a Chevy Corvette.
The next stop on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour is the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, Va., on Oct. 6 - 8.
-credit: gm racing