Force, Capps, Hight, Anderson teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Robert, John mentioned that you handle stress well. Do you believe successful drivers handle stress and pressure better than the average person? HIGHT: Well, I guess maybe some people are just born to handle ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Robert, John mentioned that you handle stress well. Do you believe successful drivers handle stress and pressure better than the average person?

HIGHT: Well, I guess maybe some people are just born to handle stress. I think it's something you have to learn. That might be where I'm at a disadvantage here because I haven't ever been in positions like this.

Shooting, like we were talking about earlier, that's an individual sport. Well, this race car deal, it's a team sport. You don't only have, you know, the guys that work on your car and your crew chief, but you have all the sponsors. There is a lot more pressure that you have to deal with because you have to do your job for everybody that gives you the money and works hard.

It's a different deal, but luckily I've worked around John a lot of years, I worked on his car. I've worked with Austin (Coil) and Bernie (Fedderly). They're great at handling stress. I've learned a lot along the way.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Ron, Robert and John. I'm going to move ahead to Pro Stock and Greg Anderson. I don't believe we have Jason on the line for us. For anybody who needs to get in touch with Jason after this call is over, feel free to contact me and I'll arrange for you to speak with Jason one-on-one.

Greg, you won the last three championships in Pro Stock. You led for most of this season before your teammate Jason Line took over first place. You're clearly still in the race. Why don't you talk about what you're looking forward to these last three events of the season in terms of trying to win a fourth straight POWERade Series world championship.


It's going to be fun. It's certainly been a different year for me without a doubt. Like you say, I led for most of the year, then Jason took over. Ever since then I haven't been able to catch him. He kind of got the taste of that leading the points deal. Honestly, he's really taken to it. He has a taste of it. He likes it. He doesn't want to give it up.

He's been a different character since he got that points lead this year than he's ever been, and a whole lot tougher competitor out there. By no means is it going to be easy. I almost consider myself lucky to still be in the chase right now because he's had such a great car all year.

It's going to be a battle. All I can think and all I can hope is that maybe we can get through this weekend and have a good weekend for both of our cars and maybe make it to where it just becomes the two of us chasing it for the last two races. Maybe we can have a great race this weekend. We can make it just about impossible for Dave Connolly to catch us. Then a lot of pressure will come off.

Right now Dave Connolly is still involved in this picture as far as I'm concerned. I can't just concern myself with Jason, not only worry about Jason. It's a different deal and I want to get through this weekend, have a great weekend, then we can act like it's a final round at a race that the two Summit KB Racing Pontiacs make the final. It's a lot of fun then. I'm sure it will become more fun if we get to the point where we don't have to still worry about Dave Connolly, but at the same time I've tasted the championship for three years in a row and it's like a drug. Once you get it once, you want it all the time. I don't want to give it up. I absolutely don't want to give it up. If I do, I'm going to go down kicking and screaming the whole way.

It's not going to be easy for Jason to win it, but he's certainly showed that he's got the talent, he's got certainly the race car under him, equipment under him, to get the job done. It's not going to be easy. The way I figure, I'm going to have to have three perfect races from myself in order to have a chance of beating him because I know he's going to do very well these last three races.

It's going to be neat. The bottom line is we want to keep it fun. We want to keep it interesting. We don't want to get stressed over it. That's easy to do. We can't let that happen because, you know, we're great friends. We obviously work together every day here. We work for the benefit of the entire team, not for one of our own personal benefits or gains. We got to keep that perspective in sight and we can't let that selfishness come in: I think that I should be able to win it, and I don't think he should, and vice versa. It's going to be a little tricky. But I think we're manly enough to handle it and we've spent enough time together the last three or four years that we're not going to let it get to us and turn it into a war, a friendship-hurting deal. Hopefully we can have a good weekend this weekend, ice Dave Connolly out of it, then we can start having fun at it. May the best man win. I want it bad, he wants it bad. As long as the Summit Pontiacs finish 1-2, neither of us will hang our heads at the end of the year.

Q: With Jason Line, y'all have sort of created a monster.


I guess so.

Q: Do you look at it that way?


Yeah. But you got to take pride in that, too. I've said it many times before, Warren should take pride in what he created here with me. I spent a lot of years and I would not be where I'm at if I hadn't put those years in and learned what I learned from that man. I try to give him credit all the time for that. I guess I should take credit the same way for Jason. He's done a tremendous amount for me. Obviously, I taught him a few things along the line and helped him accelerate his driving career and become a championship contender Pro Stock driver.

We both respect each other.  You're darn right, I take that as a
compliment.  Yes, I did create probably my own toughest enemy and
competition.  You got to take pride in that.

Q: Greg, have you ever thought about going to another category?


No, I haven't. I guess I thought about it, but I really, really like this deal. As I've said before, tried to explain to people, it's just such a different mindset in the Pro Stock class versus the Fuel class. We try to work in our shop around the clock as many hours as we can and build all these pieces of parts for these cars and spend hour after hour after hour on our dynos, trying to find one or two horsepower. It's a completely different mindset than when you're running the Fuel class. Not going to call it less technology because that's certainly not the case. There's a lot of technology in the Fuel classes, too. You don't have the all-out emphasis on trying to build a better motor than the next guy. Everybody pretty much in the Fuel class has the same parts that they use in their engines. They don't spend a lot of time massaging them. It just comes down to a matter of how you finesse your car down the racetrack. That's certainly very difficult.

We have that plus the engine deal where you got one engine makes 10 horsepower more than the other guy because you worked on that your parts a little bit harder at the shop during the week. We really like that. No, I don't have any desire to change.

Q: Is it more fun now to go to the track in a real battle? It got to the point where it almost seemed like it was an automatic.


I got to hope and think that the experience that I've gained over the last couple, three years of winning championships is going to help me on this stretch run. Who knows? I mean, it comes down to who executes better the last three races, I guess. I hope that experience is going to pay off for me. I wish I had a crystal ball, I could look into it and see how I'm going to perform the next three races.

I know for a fact it's going to have to take a perfect run for me, three perfect races, in order to catch this guy because he is not just your average Joe competitor out there. He's got great, great equipment. I expect him to have three great races.

I don't expect him to fold. He's got the eye of the tiger right now. He's really got a hunger for a championship. He feels he's earned his wins, it's his turn, it's his to get, which he's leading the points so it is. I'm still the champion. Still a No. 1 on my car. I don't want to change that number, not even in-house. I'm going -- if I go down, it will be with a fight. At the end I'll certainly be very proud of him if he does win because I know I've given my best.

Q: You've been having a pretty good year as usual. It's not like the dominance in the past. What do you attribute that to? Is the competition tougher? Have you lost some focus?


The competition is absolutely tougher. Without a doubt, you've got more cars right now that can run within a hundredth of the top car out there. You have more drivers that can go out there and cut "double-0" lights, "double 01" lights. There's more guys driving good, there's more cars running good this year.

We definitely made gains this year. Our program has gotten better. But a lot of the other competitors have actually made bigger gains than we have it seems in the driving end of it, elevated. Used to be a year ago, two years ago, there was two or three guys that could go out and knock out those "double 01" lights and run within a hundredth or two of the top car. Now there's 10 or 12 cars like that. There's just a lot more competition in the category. Everybody else has elevated their game. We haven't come back to them, they've come up to us. Some of the technology that we may have found, that we stumbled on, created here in the last couple three years, it eventually leaks out. It's almost impossible to keep everything you have to yourself for so long. A lot of that information leaked out and it accelerated a lot of the other people's learning curves, plus a lot of them just flat paid attention to how we ran our team and what we did, how we ran the day-to-day operation, how we raced, and they tried to emulate it.

My hat's off to them for doing that. It's paid dividends for them and they've gained on us, closed the gap. It's just made it tougher. It probably almost looks to the average Joe out there that we've struggled this year, we've been screwing up. The bottom line is, everybody's just done a better job. There's a lot more cars out there that can beat anybody. Used to be, say, last year that if we were going to beat Kurt Johnson or Dave Connolly for the championship, we had to beat them ourselves on race day. No one else was able to beat them at the racetrack. Now there's 10, 12 cars that can beat them and beat us at the same time. You're swapping wins around at every race we go to. The competition just raised to us. It's been a tougher struggle for us, without a doubt, but not because we've had a bad year, come back to the pack, they've come to us.

Q: You mentioned learning from Warren Johnson, teaching Jason Line. Do you think drivers in Pro ranks ever stop learning?


Absolutely not. If you ever think you know it all, there's no more to learn, you're going to go downhill fast. It's a learning curve every day I'm at this shop that we work at every day. It's a learning curve every day at the racetrack. That's why we test so much at the drag strip we have by our shop here. That's why we work every day on the dyno and in the engine shop. You learn every day. I keeps evolving and revolving, you keep chasing things.

You'll find one thing on an engine that works today, it may not work tomorrow. One thing that didn't work last month all of a sudden will work now because three other things changed with the engine.

You just learn every day. You got to look at it that way. You want to learn. You got to look and want to learn every day. If keep your mind open and think there's more possibilities to gain, more possibilities to learn, you probably will.

Q: Is it tougher knowing that winning another title your teammate has to stumble? Is that tough on you mentally?


Sure it is, without a doubt. It's almost a no-win situation. If I do come back and beat him for the championship, he's probably going to feel a little disappointed, and rightly so. If I don't win it, he goes on and beats me, I'm going to feel that I failed. It is going to be tough without a doubt. We're going to have put egos aside and stop worrying about personal gain and benefit and being selfish on this deal. We're going to be happy for the other guy.

In the meantime, we're certainly not going to let our guard down and go out there and try to give anything to the other guy. We're going to have to be okay at the finish line if the other guy comes out on top because bottom line is we are friends, we want to stay friends, we want to race together the rest of our careers. You got to put all that personal gratification, satisfaction aside sometimes, just do what's best for the team. What's going to be best for the team right now is for the both of us to go out there and duke it out the best we can, and at the end of that track no matter who wins, go shake the other guy's hand, laugh, congratulate him, be happy for him. It's going to have to work both ways. I think it will. I think we've progressed enough in our lives here to realize the big picture. I think it will happen.

Not that concerned about it. But we got to have our guard up to make sure we don't feel gypped if the other guy wins.

Q: How much tougher is it to have to go back to Richmond again? This is your sixth straight week on the road.


It is. I guess the way I look at it, you hate it when you get a rain-out without a doubt because you're there, you're at the race, ready to go. You just can't get on the racetrack. You spent all that time to travel up there. You obviously spent a lot of money on lodging and travel and everything back and forth. When it happens, when we do get a rain-out, the first thing that pops into your mind, now we can run home and we've got three or four days that possibly maybe if we do our job we can find three or four or five more horsepower, we can make this car a little better by testing at the racetrack. We can come back next weekend maybe better prepared than we are now. That's how we look at it. Every chance we get to run back to the shop, hopefully we can make our program better.

For that reason, you know, it's not such a big deal, although you would absolutely once you're there like to get it on and get the race over, get that Wally. When the situation happens like this, there's no sense moping about it. We look at the positive. That's a chance to go back and possibly make your program better for the next time you come back to the track.

Q: Greg, how did you fare in Vegas when you came around in April? How are you keeping the mood loose with these weeks being as pressure-packed as they are?


Well, I guess, first of all, I don't even recall how I did in Vegas, but I know I didn't win. I don't think I did very well. I don't even recall who won it (Kurt Johnson). It definitely wasn't me. I don't recall if it was Jason or someone else. It was the first time I think in four or five trips out there I lost. I think I had a four-race string going when I showed up there this spring. I didn't get it done. So I broke that string, which is obviously disappointing. Obviously I went on and broke several other strings through the year, too, and didn't win them races.

As far as the mood around here, I don't know. We just had a lot of time together. We spend every day together working in the engine shop, working on these engines, testing these cars. We just got to realize, you know, we've got to be happy for the other guy. Obviously if you want to look at it from Jason's side of view, I've won it the last three years, he hasn't won it, you'd like to think it's his turn. At the same time I'm the champion and I think I have a great program here and I think I can get the job done to win it four times. He's not going to feel gypped if I win it either.

We both want it bad. We just got to realize if we want to stay friends, we want to work together and keep this great team that we have here working together and succeeding like it has been for the last four years, we have to be all right with each other. We have to be friendly. We have to be lighthearted all the time. Sometimes it's hard to do. I'm not going to deny that. We have our ups and downs a little bit. But we never get into low-down arguments or fights about it or disagreements about it. We never go that far. I guess we're big enough to realize that will just tear this team apart and we can't have that.

I love the guy like a brother.  He's meant a ton to me for these last
three, four years, towards my championships.  He does a fantastic job in
the engine shop here, tuning my race car at the track.  I owe a ton to
him for having those three championships.  How can I feel gypped if he
goes and gets him one?  I can't.  I will be proud of him.  I certainly
will be if he does it.  I'll show he beat a three-time defending champ.
He certainly earned it, deserved it.  We're fine with it.

MODERATOR: It was Kurt Johnson that won in Vegas.

Thank, everyone, for being on the call. A reminder next week, same date, same time, we'll have the points leader in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Thank you. Have a good afternoon.

-credit: nhra

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Jason Line , Dave Connolly