Russell, Worsham, Anderson And Hines Earn Wins At Pontiac Excitement Nhra Nationals KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio - Greg Anderson earned his eighth win of the season Sunday, earning the Pro Stock title at the 40th annual Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals...
Russell, Worsham, Anderson And Hines Earn Wins At Pontiac Excitement Nhra Nationals
KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio - Greg Anderson earned his eighth win of the season Sunday, earning the Pro Stock title at the 40th annual Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Bike) also earned victories in their respective categories at the $2 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Anderson has been to the final round in all but one race this season, winning 8-of-9 final rounds in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. The defending Pro Stock champion has a 378-point lead over the No. 2 driver (Kurt Johnson) in the standings. Anderson turned in a 6.854-second run at 201.73 mph, defeating Dave Connolly's 6.937 pass at 201.55 in his Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier.
"This was a tuners race and a lot of teams fell off but we didn't," Anderson said. "All the credit goes to (crew chiefs) Rob Downing and Jeff Perley because it was the warmest conditions we've raced in this season and we learned a lot."
Anderson is averaging 111.6 points per national event. The most any racer can accumulate in one race is 138. Anderson has three consecutive wins at National Trail Raceway.
"That is very cool," Anderson said. "This is a tough place to win and to end the day in the winner's circle is quite an accomplishment. We're doing some special things and you never know when it's going to end. You hope it never does. We have big goals and things we want to accomplish but the main thing is to get set for next weekend and the next race."
Russell earned the sixth victory of his career and first since July 2002 when he covered the quarter-mile in 4.569 at 326.00 in the Keystone/DeeZee dragster. Current points leader Tony Schumacher turned in a losing pass of 4.602 at 206.95 in the U.S. Army dragster.
The win was more special considering the lane he had to run. Russell beat Larry Dixon in the semifinal, but due to an electronic problem, no time or speed was recorded. Because of that, he lost lane choice to Schumacher.
"It was definitely nerve-wracking going into the final," Russell said. "I think we would have had lane choice if we had gotten a time against Larry but there was an electronic problem so Tony got it. Maybe it played to our favor because they couldn't look at what we had done in the semis. All I know is we raced the lane we had and that thing accelerated so hard from mid-track on that I knew we were on a run."
Team owner Joe Amato - the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history with 52 wins - celebrated his 60th birthday on Sunday.
"Joe is upside down right now," Russell said. "It's really cool to see him this happy. It's so cool it happened on his birthday and it's a great lift for the team all the way around. We needed this. It had been almost two years since we won and you do start to doubt yourself at times.
"To run 4.50s all day in hot conditions like this is a credit to my crew chief, Wayne Dupuy. He likes it when it's hot and maybe this will be the start of a big summer for us."
Worsham earned his third win of the season and 17th win of his career by beating Gary Scelzi in a tire-smoking battle. Worsham went 5.487 at 254.62 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo to earn the win over Scelzi's 5.651 at 206.95 in his Oakley Dodge Stratus.
Worsham closed the gap in the Funny Car points lead. Whit Bazemore is at the top of the standings, 21 points ahead of Worsham.
"Whit's been to five finals and we've only been to three yet we're right there with them, which is awesome," Worsham said. "But we all know there's a long way to go and I still say John Force will be in the mix before it's all said and done."
All three of Worsham's wins this year have come when he qualified in the bottom half of the field.
"Maybe our key to winning is starting off in the bottom half," Worsham said. "It's sure seemed to work. We had times where we were in trouble today but fortunately the guys in the other lane were also. I only saw Scelzi once but I know he was out there. We just got hooked enough to get to the other end first."
Hines earned the second win of his career by beating Steve Johnson in the Pro Stock Bike final. Hines went 7.131 at 185.56 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, beating Johnson's 7.447 at 180.16 on his K&N Filters Suzuki.
"We had the fastest bike all day," Hines said. "It was awesome. This Screamin' Eagle Harley is so consistent and easy to ride. It just flies. I know that all I have to do is (be consistent on the lights) and we'll win.
Hines has built a 119-point lead over the rest of the two-wheel field. Still, Hines said he knows anyone can win the next race.
"The Pro Stock Bike class has gotten tougher and tougher over the last three years and we really have reached a point where anyone is capable of winning," Hines said. "Right now looks like it's our time. I'm just going to stay focused on the championship and getting points. We're a third of the way into our season and it's great to be out front. I don't want to look back.
"The crowd support for our program has been tremendous. People love to see these Harleys go fast and beat up on the Suzukis and the Kawasakis. It's another manufacturer in the class and that can only make it better."
The next NHRA POWERade series event is the 35th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., June 17-20.