BRISTOL, Tenn., April 29, 2001 - The battle for Pro Stock bragging rights at Thunder Valley came down to a contest between old and new, Firebird against Grand Am. But when the dust finally settled it was Greg Anderson who captured his first ...
BRISTOL, Tenn., April 29, 2001 - The battle for Pro Stock bragging rights at Thunder Valley came down to a contest between old and new, Firebird against Grand Am. But when the dust finally settled it was Greg Anderson who captured his first national-event victory by defeating two-time Winston champion Jim Yates in all-Pontiac final at the inaugural Mac Tools Nationals.
Anderson started the day from the No. 9 position, but had put together a pair of strong qualifying runs on Saturday that showed his Pontiac Firebird was ready for eliminations. The Jacksonville, N.C. resident, and former crew chief for Warren Johnson defeated Allen Johnson in round one, Brad Jeter in round two and Mark Osborne in round three before facing Yates' Grand Am in the championship match .
During the opening two rounds of eliminations Anderson's Pontiac demonstrated its full potential. In the first session the Marnell & Black Firebird had the best elapsed time of the winning cars at 6.933 seconds, and the quickest run of the second round at 6.949 seconds. It took a holeshot start against Yates' in the final stanza to secure the victory.
"I worked for 12 years with Warren Johnson and we won a lot of races," Anderson said. "I'm not saying that it got to be old hat but I had reached the pinnacle of my career. It was great, he was the best guy to work for and I owe everything to him for what I've learned. I got stagnate though and decided it was time to try and drive one of these things.
"My Firebird ran flawlessly all weekend. I've never had a car that performed like this, but I couldn't cut a light worth a hill of beans today. I can't win a race if I can't cut a light because there's Warren, and Jeggie (Coughlin) and Kurt (Johnson) who'll outrun you all the time. For some reason they had a tough weekend, and my Pontiac flew so it didn't matter that I was off today."
Anderson was competing in his fourth career final round and jumped out front immediately at the start with a .459 reaction time. The Marnell & Black Firebird eclipsed the quarter mile in 6.993 seconds at 196.85 mph. Yates' Splitfire Pontiac Grand Am crossed the stripe in 6.985 seconds at 197.51 mph.
"When I got the win light I couldn't believe it," said Anderson. "I was in shock. But I won, it's my first victory and there's nothing like it in the world. When we get our second Grand Am it will be a better deal for our whole team. That old Firebird's not supposed to run with those guys but it did today."
Al Hofmann made a run at the Funny Car brass ring even though the Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird driver came into raceday in the 16th and final qualifying position. The 53-year-old drag racing veteran advanced to his 32nd career final round before losing to Ron Capps' Skoal Racing Camaro.
"We're really excited about this for our sponsors," Hofmann said. "Jim Dunn did an excellent job tuning the Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird all weekend. Capps just did his job and beat us to the end."
Hofmann got to the championship round the hard way by defeating top qualifier Gary Densham in round one, Whit Bazemore in round two and points leader John Force in the semifinals. In the title round the Mac Tools Pontiac Firebird slowed to a 5.154 elapsed time at 283.79 mph while Capps' Chevrolet took the win light with a 5.045 second-run at 288.52 mph. With his performance this weekend, Hofmann cracks the top-10 and puts the Jim Dunn Racing Pontiac in the 10th spot in the Winston points standings.
"Make no mistake, we had a little luck today and took out the big guy," Hofmann said. "But at the same time no one counts the number of times we probably should've won. It's like anything else, you keep flipping the coin and it's going to go your way sooner or later. We've had some fun today but next time we'll put this Firebird where it belongs - in the winner's circle!"
The next stop on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour is the 21st annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on May 3 -6 in Commerce Ga. <pre> Pro Stock Race Winner: Greg Anderson (Firebird) 6.993ET/196.85MPH Pro Stock Runner-Up: Jim Yates (Grand Am) 6.985ET/197.51MPH Pontiac Pro Stock semifinalists: Jim Yates (Grand Am), Greg Anderson (Firebird) Pro Stock Top Qualifier: Bruce Allen (Grand Am) 6.934ET(track record)/198.47MPH(track record)
Pro Stock Top 10: 1. Warren Johnson (Grand Am) 2. Kurt Johnson (Cavalier) 3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Cavalier) 4. Jim Yates (Grand Am) 5. Mark Pawuk (Grand Am) 6. Bruce Allen (Grand Am) 7. Brad Jeter (Grand Am) 8. Darrell Alderman (Dodge) 9. Mike Edwards (Cavalier) 10. Ron Krisher (Cavalier)
Funny Car Winner: Ron Capps (Camaro) 5.045ET/288.52MPH Funny Car Runner-Up: Al Hofmann (Firebird) 5.154ET/283.79MPH Pontiac Funny Car semifinalists: Bruce Sarver, Al Hofmann Funny Car Top Qualifier: Gary Densham (Mustang) 4.870ET/303.71MPH
Funny Car Top 10: 1.John Force (Mustang) 2. Bruce Sarver (Pontiac Firebird) 3. Ron Capps (Chevy Camaro) 4. Whit Bazemore (Pontiac Firebird) 5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Chevy Camaro) 6. Del Worsham (Pontiac Firebird) 7. Dean Skuza (Dodge) 8. Frank Pedregon (Pontiac Firebird) 9. Gary Densham (Mustang) 10. Al Hofmann (Pontiac Firebird)
Top Fuel Winner: Doug Kalitta 4.690ET/300.73MPH Top Fuel Runner-Up: Tony Schumacher 5.056ET/217.14MPH Top Fuel Top Qualifier: Kenny Bernstein 4.574ET/319.07MPH
Top Fuel Top 10: 1. Larry Dixon 2. Mike Dunn 3. Doug Kalitta 4. Kenny Bernstein 5. Darrell Russell 6. Gary Scelzi 7. Tony Schumacher 8. Doug Herbert 9. Andrew Cowin 10. David Grubnic