Greg Anderson Buckeye State Bound With Atlanta Win In Back Pocket Pontiac Driver Has Won Three Straight At National Trail Raceway COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 16, 2005 - It was only a matter of time before Summit Racing Pontiac driver Greg Anderson broke...
Greg Anderson Buckeye State Bound With Atlanta Win In Back Pocket
Pontiac Driver Has Won Three Straight At National Trail Raceway
COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 16, 2005 - It was only a matter of time before Summit Racing Pontiac driver Greg Anderson broke out of a self-described early-season slump and returned to the Pro Stock winner's circle. During the past three race seasons, the two-time and defending NHRA POWERade champion has proven that pinning him down is a difficult task to accomplish in the short-term, let alone for an extended period of time. But even with the win this past weekend at Atlanta Dragway, the candle is burning into the wee hours of the morning at the KB Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C., as the team continues to pursue a combination that will consistently return them to their winning ways.
"I guess, yea, we have to consider we're in a slump," said Anderson. "You hate to say it, but everybody else is thinking it, too, I guess, and so are we. So far we haven't produced up to our standards, but we've been testing the wheels off of these cars. We have absolutely tested a lot more this year, not that we didn't test a lot last year, because we did. I've just tested a tremendous amount this year.
"We've re-worked the racetrack that's right next to our shop and it's so convenient now. We just look out the window and if it's not raining, we're over there. We can run until dark, or we can turn the lights on and run all night long if we want. It's just become a great tool for us that we didn't have last year. It's going to help us in the long run, and it's absolutely going to make us get these cars better. Obviously that's what helped us get back into the ballgame at Atlanta, and hopefully we can get back over there on Monday after the race, play some more and see what we can learn."
Looking at what Anderson has already accomplished this year, most would tell you that things are on the right track. Most drivers, after winning a race, setting both ends of the national record and capturing the pole at another, and advancing to the finals at a third event, would admit that things are going pretty well. But after three-and-a-half years in which the 44-year-old Minnesota native has captured 30 victories, advanced to 42 final rounds and finished third (2002), first (2003) and first (2004) in the points standings, maintaining a high level of success becomes standard operating procedure and not the exception to the rule.
"No, we're not going to be satisfied with third or fourth in points," said an emphatic Anderson. "We just set the standard so high for ourselves that we just don't want to go down from that. You get spoiled and you want it all the time. The more you win, the more you want to win. We won't be happy until we get back to doing it consistently. It's just made us work harder, and that's great. We made everybody else work harder last year, and right now they're making us work harder. That's the way it works and that's the way it goes. I imagine that cycle will continue for as long as we're out here racing, it'll go up and down. But we're not going to be happy until we get back to the top.
"It's still early, but you can't let the leaders get too far ahead in points. It's going to take us starting to repeat our runs, repeat good runs, not bounce around from a good run to a bad run. We didn't do any of that last year or the year before. We had good runs every time down the racetrack, and we haven't been doing that this year. We've had a good one and a bad one, a good one and a bad one, two bad ones and one good one. That's not going to cut it. You're not going to win that way. You have to have all good ones. That's what it's going to take, consistently being fast run, after run, after run. Until we can do that, we're not ready to win. And right now we're getting very close to that, a lot closer than we've been all year."
As a driver, Anderson made his first start in Pro Stock at the 1998 Pontiac Performance Nationals at National Trail Raceway. He has worked diligently over the past seven years since his debut at the fabled Ohio venue to reach the upper echelon of not only the Pro Stock category but all of motor sports.
"I was so nervous before that first start at Columbus," said Anderson. "It was almost like an out-of-body deal. I almost felt like I didn't belong there with all of these people that I'd either worked with or watched race for all of these years, and here I was locking horns with them. It was a neat, neat deal. It was so special, but I hardly remember any of it because I was so nervous."
Running mostly an abbreviated schedule during his first four years on the circuit, Anderson reached the final round for the first time at the 1999 U.S. Nationals before losing to former and long-time employer Warren Johnson. In 2000, Anderson posted another pair of runners-up at Englishtown (N.J) and St. Louis en route to a 10th-place in points and his first finish in the top 10. His first national-event victory came at Bristol (Tenn.) in April of 2001, and then he claimed the first of his three U.S. Nationals victories later that year at Indianapolis.
With the arrival of team owner Ken Black in 2002, Anderson proved that Black had picked the right man for the job, delivering a win at Englishtown (N.J.), the first of three consecutive victories at Columbus, and six final-round appearances. Anderson battled for the points championship all the way until the next-to-the-last race of the season at Las Vegas before settling for third place.
"Ken Black is absolutely the best car owner in the business," said Anderson. "He's a very positive guy, never gets down and is always positive whether we race good or race bad, and he runs his business the same way. He surrounds himself with good people and lets those people handle it for him. Anytime we have a problem, he's as solid as a rock."
The Pontiac driver added Jeff Perley and Rob Downing to the KB Racing crew in 2003, brought over Jason Line, Joe Hornick and Eric Maj from NASCAR to work on engines, and together they rewrote the NHRA professional record book. The KB Racing team proceeded with a blistering campaign that included 12 victories, 15 final-round appearances, a then record 67 round wins, and 19 track records which resulted in Anderson's first POWERade championship. It was a year that very few thought would ever be matched again.
The 2004 season opened up with a win for Anderson at Pomona and from there he led the points race from bell to bell as the Summit Racing Pontiac rolled to a number of single-season records including most victories (15), most final rounds (19), most rounds won (76), most No. 1 qualifying awards (16), largest margin of championship (742 points), most points accumulated in a season (2,402) and the earliest that any NHRA professional driver had clinched a championship. Anderson was recognized by motorsports writers all across America for his phenomenal season and was named the 2004 SPEED Channel Driver Of The Year.
"Years go by, you get seasoned, and the nerves calm down a little bit," said Anderson. "We know what we can do now. We've graduated, we're veterans, we're not rookies anymore. We're expected to go out and do well, not only by people on the outside but from inside our own program as well."
When the circuit hits East Central Ohio this week for the 41st annual Pontiac Performance Nationals presented by Summit Racing, it will be the eighth race of the season with a little over a third of the schedule completed. After Sunday's victory in Atlanta, a runner-up at Las Vegas and his national-record runs at Gainesville, Fla., Anderson sits third in the points standings, 16 behind second-place Dave Connolly and 134 behind first-place Warren Johnson. Lately he has dominated the terrain at National Trail Raceway with three straight wins and two consecutive No. 1 qualifying awards. It's the kind of familiarity that the Summit Racing Pontiac driver is looking forward to.
"Columbus has been fantastic to me," said Anderson. "Whether the track's been great, whether it's been slippery, we've been fortunate to reach the winner's circle the last three years. I can't wait to get back there. If we hadn't broken through at Atlanta then we were highly confident about being able to get the job done at Columbus.
"It's a Pontiac-sponsored race along with Summit Racing and the two have been very good to our program. We go in early in the week, do the Dave Gill Pontiac Fanfest on Wednesday afternoon which is always a great time, and we'll do the pre-race press conference. It's just a big weekend for us because it's such a great race for our sponsors and it's one we're looking forward to."
The 41st annual Pontiac Performance Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway on May 19 - 22 is the eighth race on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour. Qualifying can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, May 21 beginning at 11 p.m. Eastern. A three-hour telecast of final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 22 starting at 7 p.m.
. Among active Pro Stock drivers, GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson has the most wins at the Pontiac Performance Nationals with four (1985, 1993, 1999, 2001). Other previous winners currently driving GM-branded cars include Greg Anderson (2002-04) and Mark Pawuk (2000).
. Warren Johnson arrives in Ohio in first place in the Pro Stock standings with 614 points, the first time this season that a driver has led the category at the conclusion of two consecutive races. Dave Connolly is second in a Chevy Cobalt with 496 points, Greg Anderson is third in a Pontiac with 480 points, Jason Line is fourth in a Pontiac with 476 points and Kurt Johnson is fifth in a Chevy Cobalt with 377 points. Ron Krisher is sixth in a Chevy Cobalt with 352 points, Jim Yates is seventh in a Pontiac with 347 points and Greg Stanfield is 10th in a Chevrolet with 325 points.
. The 41st annual Pontiac Performance Nationals promises to be an Ohio homecoming for three Pro Stock drivers in GM-branded racecars. Mark Pawuk will be celebrating his 21st season as a Pro Stock driver when he returns to National Trail Raceway this week. The Akron, Ohio, native and driver of the Pontiac Pro Stock car made his first start as a professional at the Columbus race in 1985 and is currently third among active drivers behind Warren Johnson for most starts. The Pawuk Racing team will host the employees of Ohio CAT and the CAT Rental Stores this weekend in a hospitality area adjacent to their pits. Dave Connolly will return for his third professional event at National Trail Raceway. The Chevy Cobalt driver and Wooster, Ohio, native qualified sixth and advanced to Round 2 during his first start here in 2003. Last year, Connolly qualified his Chevrolet in the No. 6 position and was runner-up to Greg Anderson. Another Chevy Cobalt driver, Ron Krisher, is a native of Warren, Ohio, and made his first Pontiac Performance Nationals starting field in 1998 when he qualified No. 4. Krisher has made every starting-day field since then, qualifying No. 15 in 1999, No. 2 in 2000-01, No. 4 in 2002, No. 7 in 2003 and No. 14 last year. He was runner-up in 2000 to Mark Pawuk.
. With his win at Atlanta, Anderson gave Pontiac its 148th all-time victory in NHRA Pro Stock competition. Of the 148 wins posted by a Pontiac driver in Pro Stock, Warren Johnson has captured 42, Anderson 30 and Jim Yates 24.