Sonoma: GM Racing Saturday summary

Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac Sets Infineon Raceway ET & MPH Track Records - Low Qualifier For Sunday Eliminator SONOMA, Calif., July 31, 2004 - Another extraordinary demonstration of GM Racing performance rocketed Greg Anderson's Summit...

Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac Sets Infineon Raceway ET & MPH Track Records - Low Qualifier For Sunday Eliminator

SONOMA, Calif., July 31, 2004 - Another extraordinary demonstration of GM Racing performance rocketed Greg Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am to both ends of the Pro Stock track record today during qualifying for the 17th annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway. Anderson's GM DRCE-powered Pontiac captured low qualifying honors for the 11th time this season after running 6.693 seconds at 206.01 mph during the cool conditions of the morning session of time trials. It is the third consecutive race at Infineon Raceway that Anderson has been the No. 1 qualifier and his 6.69 lap ties two other runs (both by Anderson) for the third quickest Pro Stock elapsed time in NHRA history.

"We absolutely love racing here," said Anderson. "We were pretty confident after running last night that we could step it up today and put this Pontiac Grand Am in the 6.60s. We felt this would be the best weather and the best racetrack we were going to have all weekend and we couldn't wait to get out here. We also felt that we had a shot at the national record, and the 6.69 was a great run, don't get me wrong, but we really wanted a shot at the whole thing. We made a couple of minor mistakes, and probably could've run a 6.68 or even a mid-6.67, but it's still exciting to come out here and make Infineon Raceway the fourth track where we've put this Pontiac in the 6.60s. You'll see even quicker times tomorrow if we don't have the blazing hot sun."

Today's effort by the defending 2003 POWERade champion was his 28th career No. 1 qualifying spot and the 36th consecutive race dating back to February, 2003 that he has qualified third or better. During that 36-event streak, the Summit Racing Pontiac driver has posted an average starting position of 1.47, captured 23 poles and won 16 of the races he's started from the lead qualifying spot. In 14 outings this season, Anderson has accumulated 49 round wins, averaged 3.5 round wins per event, suffered only 3 defeats and posted a winning percentage of 94.2.

"It's difficult to make the different adjustments between racing in the morning and racing in the afternoon," said Anderson. "But because it's something we face at every race we've all learned how to adapt to the changes. The track we've raced on this weekend is all we could have hoped for and you're going to see more of the same tomorrow, a lot of close side-by-side racing."

After back-to-back victories at Denver and Seattle, Anderson is looking to become the first Pro Stock driver in NHRA history to win all three races of the Western Swing. The Pontiac Grand Am driver has never won at Infineon Raceway, but he was runner-up to Larry Morgan in 2002 and to Jeg Coughlin Jr. in 2003.

"We've had a great start so far, but anybody can win tomorrow," said Anderson. "It's pretty easy to lose two-hundredths on the starting line. There are a lot of great cars racing tomorrow and a lot of great drivers who can win. We'll have to be on our game and I intend to be."

Anderson teammate and NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Line rolled his Pontiac Grand Am to the No. 2 qualifying position after posting a 6.719-second run at a career-best speed of 205.54 mph. It is the fifth time this season that Line has entered raceday parked in the No. 2 spot and the fifth time this year that he and Anderson have been one and two on the qualifying ladder (Las Vegas, Houston, Bristol, Joliet, Sonoma).

"This has been an absolute team effort," said Line. "This morning's run should have been a little quicker, but I rolled through the beam and it killed the e.t. by about a hundredth-and-a-half at 60-foot. Otherwise we were looking at a low 6.70 and possibly a high 6.69. The Grand Am has been an excellent racecar and it gives you a lot of confidence when you can get into a racecar like that. I know the car will be good tomorrow, now it's up to me to do my job. Greg and I are on opposite sides of the ladder, and if we're fortunate maybe we can both advance all the way and get into the finals"

The quickest Chevy Cavalier in the field belongs to Steve Johns. After last weekend's No. 1 effort at Seattle, Johns' Chevrolet is qualified fourth for tomorrow's eliminator with a 6.725 e.t. at 205.72 mph. Ron Krisher's Valvoline Chevy Cavalier is qualified in the No. 5 position with a run of 6.729 seconds at 205.01 mph and Mike Edwards' Pontiac Grand Am is seventh.

Other Chevy Cavalier drivers in the top 16 of the Pro Stock field include Rickie Smith (9th), Dave Connolly (11th), Kurt Johnson (12th) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (15th). Other qualified Pontiac Grand Am drivers are Bruce Allen (14th) and Jim Yates (16th). The bump spot was 6.758 seconds and the field is separated by .065 (thousandths) of a second.

"The driver's ready and the ACDelco Chevrolet is actually making some pretty good runs," said Kurt Johnson. "There are some areas where we are off and I think it's hurting our performance in these air conditions. We're trying to run the car one way, and it wants to go another way so we need to back up and regroup. From this morning's run, we feel we're probably a good two or three hundredths, and about a mile and a half off the pace. We made some nice straight runs that looked good on the computer, but the numbers aren't coming up that we'd like to see. We went 205 mph in practically the same air at Gainesville (Fla.) so we know we can pick it up. We'll change engines for tomorrow. We've had a new piece in for this weekend that we ran for the first time on Wednesday at Woodburn (Ore.), it ran fairly decent, has some different stuff in it and we wanted to see how it would run here. We're going back to the engine we qualified with at Seattle, we'll change the car around a little bit and we'll be ready to go."

Tony Pedregon led a trio of Chevrolet Funny Cars today by qualifying his nitro-powered Monte Carlo in the No. 2 position with a 4.886 e.t. at 318.17 mph. It is the fourth time this year that the defending NHRA POWERade champion has entered raceday in the second position and the fifth time in the last nine races he's qualified second or better.

"We love the climate, we're at sea level and we're moving right along," said Pedregon. "We've been able to adapt nicely to all the changes and varying conditions. We initially had a track without a lot of rubber on it in the first session, we got down through there with a 4.99, and we've been able to maintain that consistency all through qualifying. I can't stress enough that the focus for us is to get this Quaker State Chevy Monte Carlo to run strong in eliminations. We have the resources and the technology to get it done, from the oil, to the tires, and all the way to the aerodynamics from GM - we're right where we need to be. When this Chevrolet goes to the starting line we are racing with the best equipment you could ever want. We can't ask for more than that and the rest is up to us. I think at this point we're going to pull together and win some round on Sunday."

For the second straight week, Tim Wilkerson claimed the No. 3 starting spot after driving the Levi Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo to a 4.899 second run at 313.95 mph. Cruz Pedregon's Chevrolet is qualified fourth with a 4.903 e.t. at 311.56 mph.

"I'm not sure where we're headed from here with the 85-percent rule, but I think we're getting a handle on it," said Wilkerson. "It seems like the LRS Chevy Monte Carlo has reacted well to the changes, but the way we have it tuned, the car doesn't want to launch the way we'd like and that's something we'll need to fix. We're trying to figure out ways to make it run better early. If we can do that, we'll be competitive all day. One thing at a time though. We've made four good runs so far this weekend, and if we can keep doing that, we'll be in good shape tomorrow and possibly in the finals sometime soon."

Other Chevy Monte Carlo drivers making this weekend's 16-car field include Ron Capps (11th), Tommy Johnson Jr. (13th) and Del Worsham (15th).

ESPN2 will carry two hours of qualifying highlights on Saturday, July 31, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET), and a three-hour broadcast of final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 1, starting at 8 p.m. (ET).

-gm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Larry Morgan , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Steve J , Tommy Johnson Jr.