Pontiac Wins 10th NHRA Manufacturer's Cup National Performance Records and a New Pro Stock Champion Highlight an Exciting Season DETROIT, Oct. 31, 2006 - National performance records at three different venues and the crowning of a new POWERade...
Pontiac Wins 10th NHRA Manufacturer's Cup
National Performance Records and a New Pro Stock Champion Highlight an Exciting Season
DETROIT, Oct. 31, 2006 - National performance records at three different venues and the crowning of a new POWERade Pro Stock driver's champion were highlights of an exciting year that saw Pontiac win its fourth consecutive NHRA Manufacturer's Cup and its 10th Cup since 1996.
"On behalf of everyone at Pontiac and GM Racing, I'd like to thank all the drivers, teams and crew members who made this NHRA Manufacturer's Cup possible," said Fred Simmonds, GM drag racing marketing manager. "It's been a long but successful season with many accomplishments to be proud of, and we appreciate all of the hard work that made this 10th NHRA Manufacturer's Cup for Pontiac a reality."
A review of the Pro Stock box score from the 22 completed events to date tells an impressive story that includes 11 national-event victories, 25 final-round appearances, 18 No. 1 qualifying awards, and a combined 32 new track elapsed-time and top-speed records set by five different competitors driving a GTO (Jason Line, Greg Anderson, Mike Edwards, Jim Yates and Warren Johnson). With one race remaining on the schedule, three drivers in GTOs are currently in the top five of the POWERade points standings with a total of five Pontiac drivers in the top 10. Pontiac proudly claimed its fourth straight Pro Stock driver's title (its ninth NHRA Pro Stock title since 1996) with the crowning of Jason Line as the 2006 champion, as well as its 170th all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the category.
Jason Line clinched his first POWERade Pro Stock title by driving his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to four victories (Bristol, Englishtown, Sonoma, Richmond), eight final-round appearances, six No. 1 qualifying awards and 43 round wins. Line's Pontiac GTO also set the national elapsed-time record at consecutive races. First on Oct. 1 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. when Line's Pontiac stopped the clocks at 6.609 seconds, and again at the following race at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 15 when the Summit Racing GTO ran an incredible national-record time of 6.558 seconds at a national-record top speed of 209.75 mph. Line has also set low elapsed time of the meet 11 times and top speed of the meet nine times, both category bests in 2006.
"Being organized and always having a plan has been the key to our success," said Line. "Four championships in four years says a lot about how good this team is - and that's from the top on down. From Ken Black and Ken Jr. (Black), to Greg, to Rob (Downing) and Jeff (Perley), to everyone at the shop and at the track. We're constantly working on new stuff, and at the same time, we're looking on down the road to six months, and even a year out. Everyone has done a good job at doing their part. It's certainly something we've built over the years and I'm extremely proud to be a part of it."
After winning three straight NHRA POWERade championships from 2003-05, Summit Racing Pontiac driver Greg Anderson will finish in second place in the standings, just a few points shy of teammate Jason Line. Anderson's fifth consecutive top-five finish was the result of three national-event victories (Pomona, Indianapolis, Reading), six final-round appearances and 11 No. 1 qualifying awards. Coming into the 2006 campaign, Anderson held both the national elapsed-time and speed record, and at Sonoma (Calif.), he reset his own national e.t. mark with a run of 6.631 seconds. At Indianapolis, Anderson joined Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson as the only professional drivers in the history of the NHRA to win four straight titles at the U.S. Nationals, and on Oct. 29 at the ACDelco Nationals in Las Vegas, Anderson captured his 300th career round win.
"I couldn't be more proud of what this Summit Racing Pontiac team has been able to accomplish, not only this year, but during the last four years," said Anderson. "Everyone has played an important part, and our goal now is to continue to work hard during the off-season, and then come back next year with the same drive and determination that has been so instrumental to our success."
Currently in fourth place in the points standings, Young Life Pontiac driver Mike Edwards rebounded from a difficult 2005 campaign, and is looking to record his fourth career top-five points finish and his seventh career top 10. Edwards' outstanding season has included two national-event wins at Houston and St. Louis, and four final-round appearances. Edwards also qualified his GTO a season-best No. 2 at Chicago and Memphis, and at Richmond the Young Life Pontiac driver ran a career-best e.t. and speed of 6.589 seconds at 209.36 mph. Edwards' GTO also ran the top speed of the meet at Houston.
"It was nice to bounce back this year the way we did," said Edwards. "Two wins in one season, that's pretty awesome, especially for us. Considering how we did last year, you can understand why we're real excited. More importantly, though, winning more rounds this year means we'll be sending more kids to Young Life camp, and that's the good part. That's the bottom line and what racing is all about for me.
"Frank Iaconio and Ernie Topping did a wonderful job with our engine program, and we had extra help with some areas that resulted in a big turnaround. We have some more ideas and some other things we're doing, and I think we have an opportunity to get even better in 2007."
Jim Yates returned to the winner's circle for the first time since 2002 by winning the Pontiac Performance Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. That victory, along with a runner-up at Houston was the catalyst for the 14th career top-10 finish by the Sea Ray Boats/Wiley X Pontiac GTO driver. Yates also posted a career-best elapsed time of 6.625 seconds at Richmond, and a career-best speed of 208.17 mph at Englishtown (N.J.) where he also ran top speed of the meet.
"When you come back like we have this year, then you start thinking that you do know how to win again," said Yates. "This season, we've put ourselves in a position where we can win races. The competition is tough, and there's a lot of parity in Pro Stock, but if you can qualify well, it gives you the confidence that you can win rounds. It definitely makes it fun to go to the racetrack, and I get excited now going to any track that's a quarter-mile long. I feel that confident in our program."
For the second straight year, Greg Stanfield notched a top-10 finish in the Pro Stock standings, but it was his first in a Pontiac GTO. The four-time Super Stock national champion (1990, 1992-94) contributed to Pontiac's 2006 Manufacturer's Cup point total with a pair of runner-up performances at Atlanta and at Reading where he was also the No. 1 qualifier. At Richmond, Stanfield posted career bests in time and speed with a run of 6.584 seconds at 209.17. His time at Richmond was the fourth quickest in the history of the Pro Stock category, and only 2006 champion Jason Line has been better.
"I set a goal each year for what I would like to achieve, and knowing the competition I'm up against, I'd say we've done pretty good," said Stanfield. "For what we have invested and what we're doing, I'm extremely happy with what we've been able to accomplish. I think if we can keep our engine program up, we'll get better as we go."
GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson added to the Pontiac win total this year with a final-round victory at Phoenix over Greg Anderson The six-time NHRA champion has now won at least one national event in 24 of the last 25 race seasons, and at the ACDelco NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, Johnson became the first professional driver in the history of the NHRA to compete in 500 races. Since entering his first race at the 1971 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Johnson has scored 96 wins, 149 final-round appearances, and earned 136 No. 1 qualifying awards (the most by a single competitor in the history of the Pro Stock class).
"I've never really looked at racing career in terms of its longevity," said Johnson. "When I was at the point of entering that first race at IRP, I had already made the commitment to race for a living. However, not knowing how feasible or lucrative my career choice would be, I always maintained the option of doing other things. Fortunately, I've been pretty successful, and going to Plan B, whatever that might have been, was never an issue."
This season marked the 11th consecutive year that Pontiac has served as the Official Car of the National Hot Rod Association, and in 2007, the automobile designed for action will once again fill that role by providing support vehicles for administrative and on-site personnel of the NHRA.