50th anniversary Mac Tools U.S. Nationals: Greg Anderson In 1999 Greg Anderson raced nearly a full season with a low-budget, independent team. That's the year he went to his first career final round. He finished second that day to his former ...
50th anniversary Mac Tools U.S. Nationals: Greg Anderson
In 1999 Greg Anderson raced nearly a full season with a low-budget, independent team. That's the year he went to his first career final round. He finished second that day to his former employer, Warren Johnson, at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Anderson will tell you that he deserved to lose that day. But in the two final round appearances at Indianapolis Raceway Park since, Anderson has come away with two victories. Anderson and the rest of the world's top drag racers will converge on Indianapolis Sept. 1-6 to vie for the prestigious Wally trophy in each category at this year's 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. In this Q&A session, Anderson talks about what it's like to have won at Indy twice already and what he thinks will be the key to winning the anniversary race this year.
Q: What would it be like to win the 50th anniversary race of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals?
ANDERSON: It would be very, very special because we are going to have a special edition Mac Tools car and we get to participate in some great events. Mac is one of my first sponsors and one of the best supporters I have and it would be an honor to win their race. I won't see a 100th, so this is the most special milestone I will get to be part of when it comes to the U.S. Nationals. It is going to be a very big deal. Any time you win Indy, it is very significant, winning the 50th would be even more special. Everyone will remember that one.
Q: You helped Warren Johnson win at Indy and now you've won as a driver at Indy. Does it seem like you've won several times or just the two times as a driver?
ANDERSON: It seems like we've won two out of three or four that I've raced there as a driver. To be doing it as a driver is so much more special. Back when I was winning it with Warren, I didn't think it could get any better than that. This is a lot more satisfying than winning it as just a crew chief or tuner. Becoming a driving was like starting racing all over again. People have been trying for 30 years to win Indy. So to be winning Indy as a driver so soon makes me feel pretty fortunate.
Q: Why have you been so successful at Indy?
ANDERSON: Indy is a very good race surface. Pro Stock racers love surfaces like Indy because it fits our tuneup. In all the years I have gone there, on a shoestring budget with my father-in-law or this deal now, we always do well. One of the reasons for that is because we always go to the test session the week before. The test session has proved invaluable to us. We will never go there again without testing there first. A lot of racers do show up for it, but it helps me get the right tuneup. I have had a good car every year, had a good chance every year. Hopefully that will continue this year. It's all about preparation and learning everything you can at every track. Some of the other tracks, we can't find the time or opportunity to test and prepare as well, but Indy is different. We don't leave that one off the testing schedule.
Q: How do you survive the longer race schedule at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals?
ANDERSON: It's a marathon, certainly. By Monday morning you have to dig deep for energy. When we have a three-day race you're tired by Sunday. It seems like you never get enough sleep during race weekends anyway. So the U.S. Nationals being a five-day event is even more taxing. We have five days of getting up early and it's a marathon and it has you wore out well before Monday. I have to find ways of getting energy for race day and the older I get, the tougher it is to be ready for Monday. But you have to find more than the other guys or you will lose.
Q: Did you think winning the U.S. Nationals as a driver would be as prestigious as everyone claims?
ANDERSON: Yes, because I experienced winning that race with Warren. I remember sitting on the wall next to the starting line after we won Indy and it was the best feeling in the world. We had a lot of wins together, but winning the U.S. Nationals as a crew chief was the best thing I had done in my life. I knew that if I could accomplish it as a driver it would be absolutely, positively the coolest thing. It's such a great feeling.
Q: How badly did you want to win Indy a second time?
ANDERSON: I didn't doubt the first win, but other people did because we weren't the best car. People think that because we didn't have the best car that I just got lucky. They thought it was a fluke. Well, it wasn't a fluke and we proved that by winning again. If it happens again, it won't be a fluke then either. You don't want to worry about what others say, but you respect what your peers say. Winning that race for the second time quieted all the critics.