Gainesville: GM Racing Saturday summary

Anderson, Pontiac Lead Quickest Pro Stock Field in NHRA History Three-time Defending Champ Narrowly Misses National Record GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 18, 2006 - Pontiac GTO driver Greg Anderson has been the class of the Pro Stock class for the...

Anderson, Pontiac Lead Quickest Pro Stock Field in NHRA History Three-time Defending Champ Narrowly Misses National Record

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 18, 2006 - Pontiac GTO driver Greg Anderson has been the class of the Pro Stock class for the last three years, so it's probably only fitting that the three-time defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion would be on point in the quickest Pro Stock field to qualify for a national event in NHRA history. The driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO posted his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier in the season's first three races after qualifying was completed today for tomorrow's eliminations at the 37th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Anderson had an elapsed time of 6.637 seconds at 207.51 mph, a scant .004 seconds off his own national record set here at this race last year, and the second quickest Pro Stock run ever next to his national-record 6.633 run. He and No. 16 qualifier Dave Howard are separated by only .064 seconds in the quickest Pro Stock field in NHRA history.

"I like this racetrack and I've always liked it," said Anderson. "It's one of the better facilities we have as far as the race course goes. We love coming here. We lick our chops when we come here. We just wish it were a little bit cooler. But the weather's obviously great for the fans and they love this kind of weather. They come out in droves and it's good for the sport.

"It's beautiful, beautiful weather, and the fans are just having a ball out there, but it actually makes the starting line a little tricky when you have this hot sun like this. It's a little bit difficult for the cars, but it's still a great racetrack. If we just catch a little break with a little cloud cover, man these cars are going to step up and they're going to run record times without a doubt. We're already the quickest field in history, but you'll see the national record go down if we get some cloud cover and maybe take 10 degrees out of the racetrack. We look forward to that, but either way, it's still great out there and it's still going to be a tight battle tomorrow with a lot of great-running race cars. But it's a very, very tricky starting line and the crew chiefs are going to have to be on their game tomorrow. It's all made or lost in the first 30 or 40 feet of this racetrack this weekend. Everybody's making a lot of power and running really good after low gears, but the big difference's been in low gear and which crew chief can master it better."

The record-setting field has Anderson's 6.637 e.t. on one end and Howard's 6.701 e.t. in a Chevy Cobalt at the other, and ironically both drivers were on opposite ends on the grid of the old record (Anderson's No. 1 e.t. of 6.646 to Howard's No. 16 e.t. of 6.707) set at last year's Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals at Joliet (Ill.).

"The quickest field in history, and you saw some of the real high-profile teams that didn't make the show. It's heartbreaking and I don't ever like to see that, but that just shows you how tough this class is right now. That's what makes this class great. Just like (PA announcer) Bob Frey said, there's no gimmes, there's no mulligans, there's no provisionals, you have to come up and earn it every time out, and man it's tough. It's a battle out there and you hate to see some of the high-profile teams go down like that, but it gives some of the new guys a chance and my hat's off to them. They did the job. We've got a nice, tight field, the quickest field ever in history, and it's going to be a blast tomorrow."

Anderson's teammate Jason Line ran a career-best elapsed time of 6.648 seconds at 207.51 mph, but it wasn't quite enough and he had to settle for the No. 2 spot. Other Pontiac qualifiers include Mike Edwards in fourth, Jim Yates (7th), Greg Stanfield (8th) and Warren Johnson (14th).

"All in all so far, it's been a good weekend," said Line. "It would've been nice to get the record, but we just kind of missed it a little bit and didn't make the greatest of runs, but it was good enough to be 1 and 2, and we've got top speed for the weekend so far, so I couldn't be happier. Both of the cars, they're so close, I don't think you could try to make two cars run any closer than that. They both had the exact same speed, but they both have their own personalities, and of course, different nuts behind the wheel."

Ron Krisher also ran a career-best elapsed time of 6.669 at 205.71 mph in his Chevy Cobalt as the highest-qualified Chevy placed No. 6 on the qualifying grid. He leads a Chevy contingent that includes Rickie Smith at No. 10, Erica Enders (15th) and Dave Howard (16th).

In Funny Car, Tony Bartone in his Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo led the red bowtie brigade with an elapsed time of 4.781 seconds at 321.19 mph to qualify third. John Force was No. 1 qualifier in a Ford with an elapsed time of 4.751 seconds at 323.62 mph. Other Chevy qualifiers included Gary Densham (5th), Del Worsham (9th), Jeff Arend (10th), Mike Ashley (11th), Phil Burkart Jr. (12th), Tommy Johnson Jr. (13th), Cruz Pedregon (15th) and Tony Pedregon (16th).

"We were doing very well pecking away at it, and just wanted to try a slightly different approach there on the last run," Worsham said. "I felt like we had all the data we needed under the conditions we'd been running in, with the approach we were taking, so it was time to try something different. For three runs, we were quick but there were always guys running a little quicker, so we wanted to see if we could change things around a little and get the e.t. down a little more.

"We didn't quite get it right, though, but we'll still go into first round with confidence because I know we could have taken the same approach and put a 4.81 or a 4.80 on the board. The hard part of any No. 8 vs. No. 9 match-up is that you're racing a guy who has almost exactly matched you in qualifying, so every little thing gets magnified. Now, add in the challenge of facing Scelzi, especially after (teammate) Phil (Burkart) beat him at the last race in Round 1, and I know we'll have our hands full. We're pretty good at not thinking about that, though, and just going out there to run our best number. We'll give Gary a battle, I know that, and if we get it right we have a chance. You can't ask for more than that."

-gm racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Greg Stanfield , Phil Burkart , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Mike Ashley , Jeff Arend , Dave Howard , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.