Sonoma: GM Racing Saturday summary

Eight Pontiac GTOs Qualify for 16-Car Pro Stock Field at Infineon Raceway Greg Anderson Sets National Record SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2006 - Greg Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to a national-record elapsed time of 6.631 seconds,...

Eight Pontiac GTOs Qualify for 16-Car Pro Stock Field at Infineon Raceway
Greg Anderson Sets National Record

SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2006 - Greg Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to a national-record elapsed time of 6.631 seconds, and a track-record speed of 207.82 mph to capture the No. 1 qualifying spot for the 19th annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway. If Anderson's performance number holds up through the completion of Sunday's eliminator, he would collect an additional 20 points in his quest for a fourth straight POWERade Pro Stock title.

"Anytime you can run a national record you certainly have something to be proud of," said Anderson. "It felt like a real nice run, but we have great conditions right now and everybody is stepping to the plate. There were four cars that ran 6.64 or better, and Jason (Line) and I ran 6.63, so we're certainly excited about that. It's going to be a dogfight tomorrow, no doubt, but we love it when conditions are like this - it's fun to run fast. We wait for this all season long, and you only get this opportunity once or twice a year, so when you get it, you'd better take advantage of it. Now we need to go on and put both Summit Racing Pontiacs in the final on Sunday. That would make for a really great weekend, but we're having fun trying anyway."

This marks the fourth time in his career, and the fourth straight season that Anderson has established a new national e.t. mark. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver secured national e.t. and mph records in May 2003 at Englishtown, N.J., and has held both ever since.

"I'm just piloting the car, it's the crew guys who are getting it done," said Anderson. "When the time is right, they make it happen."

It was the 47th career pole award for Anderson, his seventh this season and his fourth at Infineon Raceway (2002-04, 2006). It was also the 11th pole award this season for the Pontiac GTO.

The 45-year-old North Carolina resident, who debuted a new car two weeks ago at Denver, is the two-time defending champion of this event (2004-05). He has been runner-up twice (2002-03) at Infineon Raceway, and is currently No. 2 in the Pro Stock championship standings, 24 points behind teammate Jason Line going into tomorrow's race.

"I think the car is coming along with every run we make," said Anderson. "This new GTO keeps getting better and I don't know where it's going to stop. Hopefully our progress with it keeps moving forward. I'm happy, I'm stoked, and the program is definitely going in the right direction. We're this close to getting it turned around."

Points leader Jason Line will enter raceday qualified in the No. 2 position after running a career-best e.t. of 6.636 seconds at 207.78 mph in his Pontiac GTO. It is the sixth time this season that Line has qualified second or better, and the 13th time this year that he has qualified in the top half of the field.

"So far, so good," said Line. "The Summit Racing Pontiac's running good and with both cars on opposite sides of the ladder, we couldn't ask for more. That's always our goal, but that's easier said than done, especially with the competition the way it is. The car's running good although we would have liked to have been quicker on the first run this morning. We felt like we left something out there, but that being said, it's been a good weekend for the entire team so far.

"My GTO is running great. This morning, I went left or I definitely would have run a 6.62, or a little quicker even. But what are you going to do? My teammate got the record, it makes the points closer yet and that's all good."

Warren Johnson qualified the GM Performance Parts Pontiac in the No. 3 position and posted a career-best e.t. of 6.644 seconds in the process. Greg Stanfield's Pontiac GTO sits in the No. 6 starting position after the Bossier City, La., resident recorded his own career-best elapsed time of 6.649 seconds.

"The first two runs weren't all that spectacular," said Johnson, "but then again, with this setup that we have in this car right now, with all the stuff that we've changed on it, we've never run in these conditions. Getting the car acclimated to these conditions was all that we needed to do and hopefully we can keep a handle on it for the rest of the year.

"I would have to say we're in a better position than we've been, in reality, for over a year-and-a-half. That's when this whole adventure started. When you're constantly looking for an improvement in performance, once in awhile you get off on a tangent, and unfortunately when you do that, it's hard to back up because if some miniscule item yields an improvement in performance, or even if it's the same, you're going to pursue that to the end. The nature being what it is, we didn't recognize where the end was. It's like I said before, we're not stupid, we just do dumb things once in awhile. But every so often, with a little peace and quiet and solitude, you can backtrack how you got to where you are. It's a very methodical process, kind of like CSI. Fortunately, we've been able to identify what's been ailing us."

Kurt Johnson has the quickest Chevrolet in the 16-car field. The driver of the ACDelco Cobalt is qualified in the No. 7 spot after running 6.650 seconds at 207.72 mph, equaling his career-best mph set earlier this year at Pomona, Calif. Ron Krisher is qualified in the No. 9 spot in a Chevy Cobalt with a career-best e.t. of 6.653, and Tom Martino is in the 10th position in a Pontiac GTO after running a career-best e.t. and speed of 6.667 seconds at 206.92 mph.

"We're in the race and that's all that matters," said Johnson. "Obviously, we'd like to be at the top. We couldn't hit on that 6.63, we hit on a 6.65 and we've been a couple of hundredths behind all weekend. We feel the ACDelco Chevrolet can run within a hundredth of the fast cars, but we're going to have to dig down deep, get on the tree, see if we can make good runs and win this thing from the No. 7 hole.

"We were off the first 300 feet and felt we could have gone a mid 6.63. We have lane choice tomorrow so things are good right now. As close as these cars are now, that's critical, but this is a track where the lanes are fairly even, and that's what we want to see regardless of if we're on the top or the bottom. We'll let the clutch fly and see if we can get a win light."

Jim Yates is qualified 11th in a Pontiac GTO, Mike Edwards is 12th in a GTO and Dave Connolly is 14th in a Chevy Cobalt. After changing the engine and "just about everything else", according to crew chief Tommy Utt, Connolly registered his quickest run of the weekend, 6.689 seconds at 206.48 mph.

"We needed that run," said Connolly. "Sitting in the lanes before we ran I was confident we could get into the field. We made an awesome run when we needed it. It's not something you want to do every weekend, though. It's important we are playing on Sunday. The motor was the same one we won with in Topeka (in May). It was a weird weekend for us because we broke our good motor in the first run and I shut off on the second run. Then after the third run we decided the horsepower wasn't up to snuff and we changed motors. It's important for us to be racing on Sunday because it gives us another shot at progressing up the standings."

In his 400th career race, Mark Pawuk qualifies his Pontiac GTO in the 15th position. This race also marks the first time that eight Pontiac GTOs have qualified for an NHRA Pro Stock eliminator.

"We needed a good run in the final session to get our Pontiac GTO in the show, and we were successful," said Pawuk. "We overcame a lot of obstacles this weekend to get to where we are. We came here with a new Steve Schmidt motor, and the first run the tune-up wasn't right. We fixed the tune-up, and then ran through the clutch, but still put up a good enough number to get in. We knew the car could run better but this morning but we had a problem with our throttle linkage. The throttle hung up and didn't open all the way. We felt that if the conditions stayed favorable this afternoon then we could get back in the show. We did and it's really nice to be one of the eight Pontiac GTOs that will be racing on Sunday. I've received a lot of great support over the years from GM and they've really hung by me. We're racing, and when you're qualified and part of the field, you just never know what might happen.

"My guys did a great job. We stayed focused, we knew the motor would run fast enough if we made the right calls and made a good pass. It wasn't perfect, but it was awfully good, given the conditions and the pressure on everyone of having to bump back in. My hat's off to the whole team. They've done a good job."

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Greg Stanfield , Tom Martino , Jason Line , Steve Schmidt , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards