Dallas: GM Racing Saturday notes

DALLAS, Sept. 22, 2007 - Three-time NHRA POWERade champion Greg Anderson earned his 11th No. 1 qualifying award of the season by putting the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO on the Pro Stock pole for Sunday's 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at...

DALLAS, Sept. 22, 2007 - Three-time NHRA POWERade champion Greg Anderson earned his 11th No. 1 qualifying award of the season by putting the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO on the Pro Stock pole for Sunday's 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Anderson's category leading run came on Friday night when he posted a 6.668 second elapsed time at 206.92 mph. The Summit Racing Pontiac driver then equaled that time in the final session of time trials today, but with the fastest speed of the weekend at 207.05 mph.

"We have a happy hot rod so far this weekend," said Anderson. "We have to hope we don't have a big swing in weather or track conditions because it seems that this Pontiac GTO likes it just as it is. There's a long way to go though. You have four tough rounds if you hope to race Dave Connolly in the finals and we know what he's been doing lately. I can't worry about him now. I have to find a way to get to that final round and that's four tough rounds ahead of me. I'm very happy, I need to win one for the guys at Summit and Pontiac. It's been awhile and I owe it to them. My GTO's flying right now. I feel great, I have confidence but it's tough beating the confidence Dave (Connolly) has right now.

"It's been a long time since we made a run like we did in that final session. Those are the runs that really get your blood flowing, get your confidence up, and that's what we need. Dave has made quite a few of those runs lately and he has that confidence. Maybe that will be just what we need. Hopefully we can continue onto tomorrow. My GTO hasn't been happier in long, long time. It feels great to drive. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I need a win. I need a win bad and I think I have a hot rod that can do it."

For Anderson, it was his 62nd career raceday pole, his third straight at the NHRA Fall Nationals and his fourth overall at this event (2003, 2005-07) Anderson has won this race twice (2003, 2005) and is currently in second place in the POWERade Pro Stock standings.

"That last run really helped to build our confidence," said Anderson. "That's a run we haven't seen for a long time out of this team. I knew we could do it but we haven't been showing it lately. We won't be celebrating tonight. We have a lot of work to do, but the good thing is, we need to learn from that one car. We know what we can do with my car so we have to do it with Jason's car. We have to make the right changes to have a good one-two punch. I need somebody to help me in this chase, maybe knock off Dave Connolly if they can, but nobody's been able to do it including me."

Points-leader Dave Connolly is parked in the No. 2 position and has the quickest Chevy Cobalt in the 16-car field. The 24-year-old Ohio native threw down the gauntlet with pole-setter Anderson during Saturday's first qualifying session when he posted the quickest elapsed time of the round at 6.677 seconds, and thereby improved on his Friday night time by .009 of a second. This marked the eighth time in the last nine races that the Torco Racing Fuels Chevrolet driver has qualified in the top four of the field. He won the NHRA Fall Nationals in 2004.

"That was a great run for this Torco Racing Fuels Chevy Cobalt," said Connolly. "Especially out there in the heat. I didn't think it would run that good. I thought we might be able to put up another 6.69 but Tommy Utt always seems to impress me when it gets hot like this. The track seems pretty good and that had to be one of our nicer runs."

"Everything's clicking for us and everything's running smooth. That's when you have to take advantage of the situation, and continue working as hard as you've been the last few races because you can't afford to give up anything. Just like this weekend. We came in here, Greg lays down a 6.66 on that last run and that was pretty impressive. We're going to do our homework and try to get our Chevy Cobalt ready for tomorrow."

Justin Humphreys qualified his Pontiac GTO in the No. 5 position with a 6.692 e.t. at 205.94 mph. It will be the Pro Stock rookies' best raceday starting spot this year and he's getting more and more confident with each national event.

"We ran good at Indy and then we stunk at Memphis," said Humphreys. "We had a bunch of issues, stayed over on Monday and pretty much tore the whole car apart from A to B. We discovered some major problems that look like they've been on the car all year; some parts that weren't working the way they were supposed to - a bunch of little stuff that all combined really hurt us. We made five back-to-back runs testing at Memphis that were all straight. We came to Dallas, pulled our Pontiac GTO off the back of the trailer and made four more pretty good runs. It's a brand new animal. We're excited about racing on Sunday, to say the least.

"We're making progress. Having Bob Glidden and David Reher and Richard Maskin working on the car only helps, but the whole team is starting to come together. Our first year coming in we were just hoping to qualify at two or three races. Now we've surpassed that and we need to get this Pontiac in the finals and see if we can win one. That will take consistent runs - you don't have to be one or two as long as you're consistent. There are 16 cars in the field that are all good. It's anybody's ballgame on Sunday."

Ron Krisher continues to pick up the pace in the Valvoline Chevy Cobalt. Krisher qualified in the No. 6 position with 6.696 second elapsed time at 205.63 mph.

"The Valvoline Chevy Cobalt has been running pretty good with the exception of this morning's run," said Krisher. "We had a clutch problem that we fixed and then we got lost a little bit. We had a disc getting hurt on it and it was kicking our butt a little bit. We were light last night, and shouldn't have been, so that hurt us. Then, when we fixed our problem we had so much clutch we didn't know what to do with it. But we needed to fix it this morning rather than waiting until the last session when we would have been making a guess and we didn't want to go into raceday guessing.

"When we get some runs in good air we'll get a better handle on what to do with this engine. Every time the air changes we only get two runs in it, and we're hoping before Virginia to run in some good weather. We'll test in Maryland and then we'll only be a couple of hours from the racetrack. We've been struggling when the air moves below 3000 feet and we've struggled on what to do with ratios - we've got the clutch right, we don't have the ratios right. We'll get that fixed."

Jeg Coughlin Jr. bumped into the 16-car field during the Saturday morning session and ended up in the No. 9 position. His Chevy Cobalt was the fourth quickest run of the day at 6.699 seconds.

"The pressure was on but that's when this JEGS.com team always seems to shine," Coughlin said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating it out a little before we made that pass but I can also tell you that I have supreme confidence in my team."

Jason Line is qualified 11th in a Pontiac, Kurt Johnson is 12th in a Chevrolet, Jim Yates is 13th in a Pontiac, Warren Johnson is 14th in a Pontiac, Craig Hankinson is 15th in a Pontiac and Kenny Koretsky is 16th in a Chevrolet.

Tim Wilkerson earned his 10th career Funny Car pole and his second of the season after driving the LRS Chevy Impala SS to a 4.787 e.t. at 318.17 mph. The resident of Springfield, Ill., earned No. 1 qualifying honors earlier this year at Bristol, and it is the first time since 2004 that he has earned multiple No. 1 qualifying spots in a single season.

"On both runs today we lost a blower belt," said Wilkerson. "The first run we ran 4.91 and didn't make it to the end, and then that last run was a hundredth quicker. If we're not spinning the tires then the e.t. is better today. I don't know if we're doing something wrong or if we have a pulley issue, or an alignment issue, but we're going to check that out. We have a pretty good car that would have gone 4.88 or 4.89 that last run so I'm pretty optimistic about tomorrow. If the weather's like this then I think we have a chance of going to the end with our Levi Ray and Shoup Chevrolet. That's what we need to do and that's what we came here for.

"We probably run our LRS Chevy Impala a little more conservatively than most teams. We've learned how to run our car that way and we got caught in that trick bag last weekend when we were running too conservatively. We went up there on Friday night at Memphis on a track that was pretty good but wasn't great and we put a hole out as soon as I stepped on the gas. We came here and I told the guys that we weren't doing that again. I said we'd smoke the tires before we did that again, and Friday night, we went right to No. 1. I was pretty proud of that and I was pretty proud of my guys. It takes a lot of work, and you don't realize how much until you get out here and try to do it."

In addition to Wilkerson, three drivers in Chevy Impalas remained in the top four positions with Jeff Arend (4.788ET/320.26MPH) in the No. 2 spot and Arend's CSK Chevy teammate Del Worsham (4.808ET/294.37MPH) in the four spot.

"I wasn't even sure we'd even go out and make both runs today, because it was pretty obvious the top four spots were safe from any shuffling," Worsham said. "Of today's two runs, I thought the first one was more important, because it came closer to simulating what we'll have in round one tomorrow, so we went out there and concentrated on getting to the other end under power. It was a nice clean run, and it gave us the baseline to work from tomorrow. We went ahead and took it up there again, for the last run, but instead of just proving to ourselves that we could do it again, we stepped on it a little just to see where the edge was, in case we get late into rounds tomorrow and want to know where the limits are. We weren't exactly going up there trying to smoke the tires, but close to it. We wanted to take our best guess at a tune-up and then push the dial one more click, to see if that went over the edge. I'm glad we did that, because I think we know where the edge is now."

For the fourth time this season Team Chevy's Marty Ladwig set the national elapsed time record in Pro FWD. Ladwig's Ecotec-powered Lucas Oil Chevrolet posted a 7.181 second run at 201.55 mph during the morning qualifying session and that was backed up by his initial time on Friday of 7.210 seconds. That gave the San Antonio, Tex., resident his fourth No. 1 qualifying award this season. Ladwig's record-breaking run was also the fifth time this season that a Chevy Cobalt has set the national e.t. record in NHRA Pro FWD.

"That was a great run," said Ladwig. "It went straight down the racetrack and it did exactly what we wanted it to do. Our main goal was to set the record this morning. We had enough for a backup yesterday and then setting the record this morning was a great way to start the weekend. This Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt is amazing and our Ecotec engine is amazing as well. It puts out the power and it's been working well for us. We kind of expected coming into Dallas that we would have a shot to reset the record. It's warm but the track is all concrete so hopefully we'll be able to continue running well on Sunday."

Jason Hunt is qualified in the No. 2 position in the Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt with a 7.242 e.t. at 199.02 mph and Gary Gardella is qualified in the No. 3 position in the Red Bull Chevy Cobalt with a 7.244 e.t. at 201.19 mph. Bryan Jimenez posted a strong run Saturday morning and is sixth with a 7.791 second e.t. at 181.50 mph.

"We improved by almost two-tenths from what we ran on Friday," said Hunt. "That's not too bad. We'll keep trying to knock it down and be consistent on Sunday. We'll look at the data and see if we can find some more and go form there. The Matco Tools Chevrolet ran straight down the track on both runs - no problem, We should be able to run 7.20s all day tomorrow and if we can do that then we'll take our chances."

"We're running right where we expected to be," said Gardella. "We made two, almost identical runs at 7.244 seconds today, and if we can keep that going tomorrow, I'll be happy. My driving has been better, I've been cutting good lights and the whole package together is something we can race with on Sunday."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Bob Glidden , Kenny Koretsky , Tim Wilkerson , Jason Line , Jeff Arend , Justin Humphreys , Dave Connolly , Craig Hankinson