Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac Grand Am into NHRA History Book COMMERCE, Ga., May 17, 2004 - Greg Anderson etched his name into another chapter of the NHRA record book today at the 24th annual Summit Racing Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac.
Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac Grand Am into NHRA History Book
COMMERCE, Ga., May 17, 2004 - Greg Anderson etched his name into another chapter of the NHRA record book today at the 24th annual Summit Racing Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac. Anderson joined drag racing legends Bob Glidden and Ronnie Sox in becoming just the third Pro Stock driver in the history of the series to win five consecutive races after he drove his Pontiac SC/T Grand Am to a final-round victory over Larry Morgan. It was the sixth win of the season for the defending POWERade champion and Pontiac's 131st all-time victory in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
"The streaks are nice, the records are neat, but you can't focus on that stuff," said Anderson. "They are fun, but it would be arrogant of me to place too much significance on such things. From a career perspective, yes, I'm off to a good start, and if we're still going strong in five, maybe ten years, then maybe you can make the comparisons to other drivers, but not until then. The bigger picture is the 2004 POWERade championship and getting this Pontiac Grand Am in the winner's circle - those are the only things that matter right now."
Anderson came into today's eliminator qualified third, the first time in 12 races the 43-year-old Monoresville, N.C. resident has not started raceday from the lead position. During the first round of qualifying on Friday, Anderson damaged his primary GM DRCE powerplant and expedited the wounded engine back to the KB Racing shop in North Carolina for a hasty repair. Work on the damaged piece was completed late Saturday night, and it was rushed to Atlanta Dragway for installation into Anderson's Pontiac SC/T Grand Am just in time for the scheduled Sunday morning eliminator.
"We overcame a lot of hurdles this weekend," said Anderson. "We hurt that motor on the first run and sent it back to the shop. The guys there worked non-stop, all night Friday, half the day Saturday and then Jason (Line) drove back to the shop after the last qualifying session yesterday to bring it here. He ran the motor on the dyno and got it back to the track at 3 a.m. this morning. That's indicative of the kind of team I have.
"We have a terrific supporting cast that puts everything aside for team owner Ken Black and that's because of what he does for us. This is a great opportunity for everyone on this team and we want to win so doggone bad for Ken that we're ready to do whatever it takes. We put the motor back in our Grand Am this morning and it ran low e.t. of the first round. We struggled a little in qualifying with the setup of the car, and like we've showed every race, you give Rob (Downing) and Jeff (Perley) enough chances, they're going to figure it out."
Anderson defeated Mike Edwards in round one, Dave Connolly in round two, and on a holeshot in round three, squeezed past teammate Jason Line before facing Morgan in the finals. The semifinals matchup between the two Ken Black Pontiacs was decided by only .004 (thousandths) of a second, and Line's third 6.79 elapsed time of the afternoon was for naught.
In the championship round, Morgan's Dodge Stratus launched first with a lightning-quick .018 reaction time, and held the lead until the 1000-foot mark before Anderson's Pontiac pulled ahead for good. Anderson's SC/T Grand Am crossed the finish line in 6.812 seconds at a speed of 203.00 mph. Morgan's Dodge followed in 6.850 seconds at 202.50 mph. Anderson's margin of victory was .007 of a second.
It was the first win in four consecutive final rounds for Anderson at the Southern Nationals, and his 22nd career victory in 33 final-round appearances. After seven races, Anderson's lead in the NHRA Pro Stock points standings is 243 points over second-place Kurt Johnson.
"Our Pontiac Grand Am ran pretty good today, but our primary motor is still not back to where it should be," said Anderson. "We'll go through it properly this week, fix everything that is really tore up in it, and we should have it in great shape for the race next weekend in Chicago."
Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet was the best performing Cavalier during today's eliminator, but suffered an unusual and rare disqualification when his engine failed to start in a round-three loss to Morgan.
"I guess we've found a new way to lose one of these," said Johnson. "I'm not saying the ACDelco Chevrolet would have won, but I certainly would have liked to have had the chance to race. I'd like to thank Larry for his sportsmanship. He did everything he could to let us race, just as we would have if the situation was reversed. He knows it's not any fun either for the fans or the competitors to win when you don't have anyone to race. It's not his fault.
"Even with the strange ending it was still a good day. We made some changes this morning, ran fairly well and went some rounds, which, considering that wasn't our best motor, is pretty encouraging. I guess it's on to Chicago, where we'll try to defend both the national event and the King Demon titles."
In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson drove the Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo to the semifinal round before losing to Whit Bazemore. It is the third time in the last five races since Wilkerson climbed into the new Monte Carlo that he's advanced to the third round of the eliminator.
"We really went after it pretty hard against those guys in the semifinals," said Wilkerson. "We just barely stepped on it and lost traction. We're racing later in the day, the track is getting hotter and we're not used to tuning to those conditions with this new tire. That setup worked with the old tire but not this one. That's okay. We're learning and we're going to get there. We're proud of our performance. What else can you do except to keep trying."
No. 1 qualifier Tony Pedregon, who was competing in a Chevy Monte Carlo for the first time this weekend, lost in round one to Bob Gilbertson. Pedregon dropped a cylinder and spun the tires slowing to an elapsed time of 6.614 seconds at 141.28 mph.
"The injector plates held open and the engine was idling really high which builds temperature in the clutch causing it to drop a cylinder," explained Pedregon. "The good thing is that it can be fixed. We're not going to let this discourage us. We had a really good weekend out here and the outlook looks good for us. Once we get these small issues figured out we'll be fine. We're going to keep pressing on.
"We're very pleased to have been able to run the 329 mph here in Atlanta. We're happy with the new Monte Carlo body and feel like it's going to take us to the next level. We're going to take this momentum to Chicago and see what we can do there. The weather can be ideal for fast runs, so we're going with hopes to continue what we started here."
The next stop on the NHRA POWERade tour is the Seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals on May 20 - 23, in Joliet, Ill.