Indy Testing Concluded, Pontiac's Greg Anderson Takes Aim at Fourth Straight U.S. Nationals Crown Looks to Join Warren Johnson and Bob Glidden on Elite List INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 25, 2006 - With the completion of 17 NHRA POWERade events already in...
Indy Testing Concluded, Pontiac's Greg Anderson Takes Aim at Fourth Straight U.S. Nationals Crown Looks to Join Warren Johnson and Bob Glidden on Elite List
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 25, 2006 - With the completion of 17 NHRA POWERade events already in the books, and six still remaining on the docket, fans and aficionados of drag racing now turn their focus toward the city of Indianapolis and the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at the fabled O'Reilly Raceway Park on Aug. 30 - Sept. 4. First run at Great Bend, Kan., in 1955, this is the NHRA series' most celebrated contest, and regardless of who goes on to win championships in each of the professional categories, the U.S. Nationals is the one "Wally" every driver wants on their mantle.
Pontiac's Greg Anderson knows what it's like to win the season's most sought-after single-event prize. He already has four such trophies with his name on them, and he would like to add one more to the collection, but this time, inscribed with the year 2006.
"The U.S. Nationals is, without a doubt, a marathon weekend and it's a race that can wear you down," said Anderson. "You show up, you unload, and on Friday you have a single night session right away that, depending on the weather, could determine the pole. By Monday morning, you have to be able to find enough and save enough energy to be able to race. We're programmed to go three days, and I can honestly say that by Sunday at a national event, your energy level is just about tapped. At Indy you add an extra day and you have to find a way to have enough left to be sharp - not just to show up and get down the track, but to be sharp. The last three years, we've been able to do that."
The driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO advanced to his first final round at Indianapolis in 1999 before losing to his former boss, Warren Johnson. Two years later in 2001, the Minnesota native took home his first U.S. Nationals trophy with a final-round win over Mark Osborne. In 2003, Anderson won the first of his three consecutive U.S. Nationals titles with a final-round victory over Kurt Johnson, and then he thrice repeated the feat in '04 by defeating Kenny Koretsky in the title heat and Richie Stevens in the '05 money round. Anderson is looking to join the elite tandem of Bob Glidden (1985-88) and Warren Johnson (1992-95) on the very short list of professional drivers who have won four straight at Indy.
In addition to his four wins at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Anderson has been No. 1 qualifier at the "Big Go" twice (2004-05), and his Pontiac GTO set both ends of the Pro Stock track record last year with a run of 6.689 seconds at 205.72 mph.
"Indy has been golden to me - it's special," said Anderson. "I've had a lot of success there over the years and there's no race that means more to me than the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. You can win a driver's championship, but if you don't win the U.S. Nationals once or twice, then to me, your career is just not complete. Winning this year would be especially sweet, given the dry spell that I've been in."
Entering this year's U.S. Nationals, Anderson is second in the Pro Stock standings and trails teammate Jason Line by 121 points. Anderson opened up the year with a win at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and has since advanced to three finals (Phoenix, Bristol, Chicago), and has qualified his Summit Racing Pontiac in the No. 1 spot nine times. He brought a new racecar out at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver in July, and two weeks later at Sonoma (Calif.), he bettered his own national e.t. mark with a run of 6.631 seconds.
"We're very happy with our new Pontiac GTO," said Anderson. "The last three races it seems that I've driven better, and the car keeps improving each time we run it on the racetrack. I was doing pretty well at Memphis and had a doggone transmission failure. I feel I had a really good shot to win that race. The good thing though is that the car was working good and the meathead behind the wheel was doing a decent job. I think we're about ready to put it all together and win a race one of these days."
Following the Memphis national event on Monday, Aug. 21, the Summit Racing team spent the following two days testing at ORP in preparation for the upcoming U.S. Nationals.
"Testing went okay," said Anderson. "It's certainly not the kind of track we'll see at a national event, but we were able to learn some things on how to run the car, especially in the early part of the track - at least low gear stuff. We made 10-12 runs and consider it a good learning experience.
"Right now, I think Jason and I both have the two best cars. Jason's GTO has been great for the last 10 or 12 races, and that's going to continue. It's not going to be easy catching him, he has fantastic equipment and he's done a great job. We have two equal horses, and it will come down to the two variables behind the wheel, along with Dave Connolly, Kurt (Johnson) and anyone else who is going to be in this championship mix. It's not going to be easy, but the good thing is that Jason and I both know we have good equipment, we're both driving better, and we have as good a chance as anybody."
Pre-Race Stats & Facts
U.S. Nationals - Indianapolis
. Following the most recent national event in Memphis on Aug. 21, Pontiac leads the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings with 3,100 points, Chevrolet is in second place with 2,100 points, and Dodge is third with 1,800 points.
. GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO driver Warren Johnson leads all active Pro Stock drivers with six victories at Indianapolis (1984, 1992-95, 1999). Greg Anderson is second on the active list with four (2001, 2003-2005), and Young Life Pontiac driver Mike Edwards rolled to his lone Indy win in 1998. Bob Glidden, crew chief on Tom Martino's Pontiac GTO, has the most wins of any professional driver at Indy with nine.
. Pontiac's Jim Yates was runner-up at the U.S. Nationals in 2002, Greg Anderson in 1999, Warren Johnson in 1988 and 1998, and Mark Pawuk in 1994.
. Pontiac's first U.S. Nationals victory came at Detroit Dragway in 1960 when Jim Wangers won the Stock eliminator category.
. For the seventh straight year, a group of GM racers along with other NHRA drivers will make a visit to the world-renowned Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis on Thursday, Aug. 31. Signing autographs, and visiting with the kids and their families will be Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Kurt Johnson, Jim Yates, Morgan Lucas, Cory McClenathan, Ron Krisher, Hillary Will and Dave Connolly. It is the third time this season that the GM Racing contingent has spread good cheer at a children's hospital in conjunction with a locally held national event.
. Warren Johnson has earned eight No. 1 qualifying awards at the U.S. Nationals (1982, '88, '90-91, '93, '95, '98-99). Greg Anderson was No. 1 qualifier at the U.S. Nationals in 2004-05, and Jim Yates captured pole honors at Indy in 1996.
. Through the completion of 17 national events, competitors in Pontiac GTOs have won eight national events, advanced to 18 final rounds, earned 13 No. 1 qualifying awards, set low e.t. of the meet 14 times and top speed 16 times. Jason Line leads the Pontiac pack with three victories (Bristol, Englishtown, Sonoma), Mike Edwards has two wins (Houston, St. Louis), Greg Anderson has one (Pomona), Warren Johnson has one (Phoenix) and Jim Yates has one (Columbus).
. Jason Line's win at Sonoma, Calif., on July 30 was the 167th all time for a Pontiac in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
An extensive lineup of U.S. Nationals coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 over the Labor Day weekend. Qualifying can be seen on Saturday, Sept. 2, starting at 11 p.m. Additional qualifying coverage can be seen on Sunday, Sept. 3, beginning at 12 p.m., and again at 11 p.m. Final eliminations will be broadcast on Monday, Sept. 4, starting at 12 p.m., and a three-hour program can be seen on ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. All times Eastern.
-credit: gm racing