"The Professor" Enters The Hall, Anderson Goes To The Head Of The Class At Atlanta All-Pontiac Pro Stock Final Featured Hall of Famer Warren Johnson, Points Leader Anderson COMMERCE, Ga., April 29, 2007 - Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson, ...
"The Professor" Enters The Hall, Anderson Goes To The Head Of The Class At Atlanta
All-Pontiac Pro Stock Final Featured Hall of Famer Warren Johnson, Points Leader Anderson
COMMERCE, Ga., April 29, 2007 - Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson, "The Professor" of Pro Stock, tried to put an almost-too-good-to-be true ending to a Hall of Fame week, but Summit Racing Pontiac driver Greg Anderson spoiled the party with his win over Johnson in today's Pro Stock final at the 27th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Johnson entered this weekend's event fresh off of his induction this past Thursday into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., becoming only the seventh member of the drag racing community to be inducted. On the racetrack, Johnson advanced to his 150th career final round before losing to his former crew member Anderson. It was an all-Pontiac final as Johnson drove his GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO to an elapsed time of 6.719 seconds at 205.79 mph to Anderson's winning 6.671 e.t. at 207.62 mph.
"Warren, he's a Hall of Famer and was probably the sentimental favorite," Anderson said. "I'm sure a lot of people were pulling for him, but I think I had a lot of people pulling for me today too. We've got a lot of history together, both with Kurt (Johnson) and Warren. It means something down deep when you beat those guys - they've beat me enough, that's for sure. (Kurt, Warren and I) have won a lot of races together, as a team together. There's a lot of history and things like that, so it's almost the way you hope it will come down, yet you almost dread it because you know it's going to be tough. It's going to be a knockdown, drag out brawl. Obviously he was ready for me in the final since we left together. He drove great all day long. The guy's sixty-whatever years old and it's just amazing. My hat's off to him. I had a blast but was scared to death to look over in the final because I just knew that yellow rocket ship would be over there, but luckily the win light came on and we got us another 'Wally' at a Summit Racing event."
Incredibly, Anderson has now won four of the season's first six races and two in a row after his win earlier this month at Las Vegas, and his teammate Jason Line has appeared in the other two Pro Stock final rounds with a win and a runner-up finish. Anderson entered today's eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier and defeated Tom Hammonds in Round 1, Mike Edwards in Round 2, and Warren Johnson's son and teammate Kurt in the semifinals before facing off against the six-time NHRA POWERade champ Johnson in the final. Anderson served as a crew member, tuner and crew chief during four of Johnson's six championships during a 12-year tenure at Warren Johnson Enterprises.
"Today was just absolutely unbelievable," Anderson said. "She was like a thoroughbred today. It's a pleasure to drive when that happens. I didn't expect that today because it was hot, the track was greasy, but man that thing was awesome. That goes back to this team I've got. I can't stop saying it, but (crew chief) Rob Downing and his guys do a fantastic job. All the guys in the engine shop, they're all down here this week with their families, and I'm so proud of those guys. We've got a heck of a package here. I tried to mess it up a couple of times today, but the horse was too strong and not even I could mess it up. I probably didn't drive too good today, but I had probably the best car I've had in a long, long time. I've just got the most incredible sponsor, team owner and bunch of crew guys you could ever imagine put together, and I'm living the life right now. I'm just a lucky man to have everybody around me that has put these cars under me. It was absolutely a dream to drive today and they made my job easy."
Quickly putting his focus back on the track after his prestigious Hall of Fame induction, Johnson was a Dodge killer today as he defeated the Dodges of Allen Johnson, Larry Morgan and Richie Stevens Jr. in Rounds 1, 2 and 3, respectively, before facing Anderson for the fifth time in a final round. Ironically, his last win here at Atlanta was over Anderson in 2003.
"We're certainly not happy losing in the final, but at least we were able to get there, which is a major step forward for our program," Johnson said. "We also made an incremental gain in the points standings, which was another one of our goals. Finally, we will be able to take what we learned today and apply it to both (son) Kurt's and my cars, which we believe will help us maintain our forward progress. All around, it was a pretty good day.
"We came back after qualifying to make some pretty decent runs today. The track was 133 degrees today, which normally doesn't bode well for these Pro Stock cars, and we saw a number of runs in the left-hand lane where people flat couldn't get down the track. However, we were able to successfully negotiate both lanes making us pretty happy overall. Although some may look at this as a good end to my Hall of Fame weekend, I prefer to see it as the beginning of our year."
In the Sportsman classes, Frank Manzo from Morganville, N.J., drove his '05 Chevy Monte Carlo to the Top Alcohol Funny Car title, driving past the '02 Firebird of Marc White. Dan Fletcher from Churchville, N.Y., drove his '57 Corvette to the Super Gas title, and Lamar Stevenson from Montgomery, Ala., won Super Street in a '69 Camaro.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the 11th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., on May 4-6.
-credit: gm racing