Greg Anderson prepares for 2006 season Q and A with Anderson Greg Anderson, three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion, knows what it takes to win. The Minnesota-born and -raised, North Carolina transplant captured his third consecutive...
Greg Anderson prepares for 2006 season
Q and A with Anderson
Greg Anderson, three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion, knows what it takes to win. The Minnesota-born and -raised, North Carolina transplant captured his third consecutive title in 2005, joining drag racing legends Bob Glidden and Lee Shepherd on a short and exclusive list of drivers who have won three Pro Stock championships in a row.
Born in Duluth, Minn., Anderson began his rise to the pinnacle of drag racing as both mechanic and crew chief, first joining John Hagan's team in 1979. This paved the way for a 12-year stay at the shop of Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. Joining Johnson in 1986, Anderson served as a crew member, tuner and crew chief during four of Johnson's six NHRA Pro Stock championships, but Anderson had one ultimate goal -- that was to drive.
In 1998, Anderson took his first steps to realizing his lifelong dream of driving when an opportunity from his father-in- law Troy Humphrey gave him his first chance to drive competitively.
During the period from 1998 to 2000, Anderson, who drove for both Humphrey and Mark Pawuk during that time, joined the Speed Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club (200.11 mph at Richmond in 1999) and went to three final rounds, serving notice that with proper funding he could be a winning driver on the NHRA Pro Stock circuit.
The break that Anderson needed came in 2001 when Anderson joined with Ken Black and George Marnell as crew chief on the Pro Stock car driven by Marnell. He was also the test driver and part-time driver on a second Marnell & Black entry.
Anderson's first win came during 2001 when driving his older model Marnell & Black/ Troy Humphrey Motorsports Pontiac Firebird he turned back Jim Yates in the final round of the Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.
Win number two was added over Labor Day, when Anderson's Firebird took on all challengers to win the biggest, most prestigious race of all -- the 2001 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
The following year Black formed KB Racing, with Anderson heading the racing operations and doubling as driver. He once again served notice that, now with sound backing, he would become a contender for the POWERade Pro Stock Championship.
In 2002, he won twice (Englishtown and Columbus) in six final rounds. The following season, 2003, he won his first championship, winning 67 rounds of eliminations and 12 events. During the season, he earned 14 No. 1 qualifying positions, set 19 track records and was one of only two drivers to qualify at all 23 national events. But he wasn't finished yet.
Anderson's exploits in 2004 are almost too numerous to mention. The driver, who now calls Charlotte, N.C., home, won his second consecutive NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Championship.
Along the way Anderson accumulated 15 event wins (an NHRA record) in 19 final rounds (the most final rounds in one season in NHRA history), 16 No. 1 qualifying awards (the most in NHRA history), 76 round wins during eliminations (the most in NHRA history) and set 20 track records.
These are but a partial list of accomplishments that resulted in Greg Anderson being named the 2004 SPEED Channel Driver of the Year, an award that is voted on by an elite panel of motorsports journalists, along with a fan vote.
In winning his third championship in 2005, Anderson continued his torrid performance, albeit not the same numbers as 2004. But according to Anderson "the first part of the (2005) season was poor by our standards."
In fact, it wasn't until the seventh event, the Atlanta race -- the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals -- that Anderson won his first race of 2005. By the acknowledged midpoint of the 2005 season -- St. Louis -- Anderson had won two times more and with 11 races remaining, the point battle had tightened up with Anderson regaining his accustom place at the top of the mountain.
After mid-season, KB Racing brought out a new Summit Racing Pontiac GTO for Anderson and he never looked back. Over the next nine races Anderson won five, including four in a row. By the NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, the next to the last event on the 2005 schedule, Anderson had clinched his third POWERade championship.
As seen by his numerous records, performance has always been important to Anderson. Having captured three consecutive championships and having won 39 national event titles, entering the 2006 season, is a strong indication that Anderson knows something winning.
In the following question and answer session, Anderson (GA) talks about what it takes to win and his outlook for the 2006 season, which begins February 9 with the NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals which unfolds at the newly renamed Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.).
Q. What does it take to be a winner on the NHRA Pro Stock circuit?
GA: It takes a great support team behind you. It takes a complete team effort. It doesn't take the best motor. It doesn't take the best car. It doesn't take the best driver. It takes the best of everything. It takes a team that works better than anybody else -- one that makes the best calls.
We haven't won the last two or three years because we had a better engine and that's all we had, or we had a better car than anybody had, or we had a better driver. We won because we had all of it working together. We had a crew that was just about flawless in making the car happy on each track we went to.
That's what winning is all about.
Q. Is that what you have to do to win a championship?
GA: Absolutely. You have to do it week in and week out. You used to be able to have 10 good races and the rest be mediocre and you could still come out on top. It's not like that anymore.
Anybody can do it if they can put the right pieces together, the right people together and work in harmony. Of course, it's a must that you have good quality engines and good quality cars. You have to have it all. As I said before: It takes the best of everything. It takes a team that works better than anybody else, one that makes the best calls.
Five years ago, all you worried about was having a good motor and then you could run well in Pro Stock. Well, it passed by that. It takes a real good driver now and it takes a real, real super tuned car, but more importunately, you must be able to adapt to each race track.
That's been one of the secrets of our success. We've been able to master most all the tracks. We've won at every track except Chicago (Joliet) and, of course, Richmond, which we'll run for the first time in 2006.
Q. Can you put all those things together (that you've already mentioned) and repeat in 2006?
GA: We can. Will we? That's a different story. That's up to us to decide. If we can continue on the path we're on with the team working together in harmony then we give ourselves the opportunity to repeat. We must continue to gain horsepower, make our cars better and both Jason and I become better drivers, to repeat. If we slip in any of those areas, than we won't win. It's that simple.
Repeating is our plan. That's what we're out here to do. We know it's going to take a better effort than last year or the year before because the competition is going to be better.
Q. Where is the competition coming from this year?
GA: Our main competition will come from Johnson and Johnson -- WJ and KJ -- Erica Enders, who now has a year of competition under her belt and who came on strong at year's end, Dave Connolly and there will be three or four more that you don't know which ones of the group that it will be yet, but every year three or four, that are capable of winning, step up. Your positives are Warren, Kurt, Erica and Dave -- and my teammate Jason Line.
Q. You've won three consecutive championships; do you have any to prove?
GA: First off, it is up to us to defend and do it in such a manner that we have the opportunity to win again. We almost feel we have something to prove this year. Last year we started the season slowly. We got ourselves in a rut. Got behind the eight ball and really had to scramble and work through some adversity to get our act back together. We don't want that to happen again. We want to start the season strong. We don't want to have to come from behind again. We want to change things this year. Our goal is to return to our performance of 2003 and 2004. I guess in that respect you can say we have something to prove.
Q. It seems that when you changed cars to the new Pontiac GTO at mid season, you really took off. How is the car situation for 2006?
GA: Right now we only have a half season on the car I drove last year. I started with the new car at Denver. We haven't tested it at all over the off-season. We're trying to keep the cycle down on that car. We've only tested the new cars we have for 2006. Jason didn't bring out his new car until Indy, so he's only got a third of a season on his. The bottom line is that we're in pretty good shape with those two cars and three brand new cars that we're sorting through right now. One or more of those could prove to be the better car. We'll know more after we finish testing them. We're in better shape for this coming season than we have ever been.
Q. What about engines?
GA: We're spending 90 percent of our time developing the DRCE 3 (Drag Race Competition Engine), the new version GM engine. Additionally, we're still working on our DRCE 2 stuff, which it what we've used for the last 10 years. It's a reliable piece, so we're not giving up on that. Our plans call for us to have the DRCE 3 engine in the frame rails at Pomona. Warren and Kurt switched over to the new engine last year, so they've got a year's jump on us.
Q. How does your teammate (Jason Line) help you achieve your goals and still maintain his own goals?
GA: Jason is the most completely unselfish person in, not only drag racing but, the world. His goal is to help me achieve mine. His main goal is to try and make sure that my car has enough power for me to win the championship. That said, at the same time our entire game plan as a team is to supply him with the exact same power that I have. It is difficult to have all the right parts and pieces at the right time to make both cars equal but we have been successful in doing that.
Jason works around the clock. He's fantastic with the dyno and he's a great engine tuner. He doesn't think about himself. He thinks about how my car is going to succeed and how the team as a whole is going to do.
He knows that we don't have team orders when we run each other. Jason is allowed to whip my butt, just as well as I'm allowed to whip his. There's no pressure put on him that way. He just feels that no matter who wins, he wins. As a team, we don't care which of us win just as long as we win. You have to remember that Jason finished third in the 2005 POWERade point chase, so he had to do a lot of winning along the way. He's just as capable of winning the championship as I am.
Jason is a blessing to this KB Racing program. He does a great job driving and he does a great job of tuning both cars.
Q. In closing, do you have anything else to add?
GA: No, not really. I just want people to know that everybody at KB Racing knows it's going to tough this year. That's why we're working extra hard this off season to be as ready as we can, so that we can withstand the challenge that we know is coming in 2006. We're looking forward to the new season. Pro Stock was exciting last season and it should be even more exciting this year.