LAS VEGAS - Greg Anderson has a terrific memory. He can tell you what numbers he ran in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am for any race. He doesn't forget results, or lack of, for that matter. But he can be a forgiving guy too. So...
LAS VEGAS - Greg Anderson has a terrific memory. He can tell you what numbers he ran in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am for any race.
He doesn't forget results, or lack of, for that matter.
But he can be a forgiving guy too. So if the team can put the car into winner's circle in Las Vegas again, he will completely forget the 2002 results. Anderson may have won the spring Las Vegas event earlier this season and already clinched the 2003 NHRA POWERade championship in his category, but he can still remember packing up a day early at the fall event in Sin City last season. That same weekend, Jeg Coughlin went on to win the race, and the POWERade Pro Stock championship.
Anderson will forgive and forget the '02 DNQ if he can put his Vegas General Construction car into the final round during the third annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Oct. 23-26, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Larry Dixon, John Force, Coughlin and Angelle Savoie are the defending winners of the $2 million race. It is the 22nd of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
"I want to go back to Vegas and sweep the events there," Anderson said. "We have lots of connections there. My team owner (Ken Black) is from there and he is going to have just an amazing amount of people there. It's very important to do well there.
"Up until we won Indy (in September), winning the race at Las Vegas in the spring was the biggest thing to happen to this team this season. It's always good to win in front of the boss."
Anderson has been a team owner's dream come true this season. After finishing the '02 campaign with two wins in six final round appearances, Anderson took the No. 3 spot in the final standings.
This season, Anderson has earned 10 victories in 13 final rounds in the first 20 events of the season. At Dallas, Anderson clinched his first NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship as a driver. He earned three as a crew chief for Warren Johnson in the 1990s.
"We were pretty good last year, we at least threatened for the championship," Anderson said. "But then I flipped the car over and we blew up a motor and Jeg came on like a ball of fire. We at least had a chance at the championship last year. But it was nothing like this year.
"Looking back, we have not had a weak track so far this season. Everyone has tracks that they run stronger on and tracks that they don't. But we have had a chance to win every week. I can't remember when a Pro Stock team has been so consistent."
Anderson will tell you that the change in performance has nothing to do with the man behind the wheel.
"I am so proud of the guys we have working on this team," Anderson said. "These guys are absolutely fantastic. The engine guys are showing all the muscle and the equipment I have on the race track has gotten the job done. It's been all about the crew."
During the offseason Anderson spent all of his time working on the engine program, trying to find as much horsepower as possible. He wasn't the only one.
"If it wasn't for Kurt Johnson, we'd be dominating the class this season," Anderson said. "I'm sure he is saying the same thing, that if it wasn't for that damn Anderson guy, he'd be dominating the category. Kurt's performance elevated from last year. It went way up, but so did mine. Now Jeg is making gains and it's not that the rest of the class has fallen off, they just haven't made the gains that three or four teams have already.
"It's been an incredible year in Pro Stock and I can't imagine what it is going to be like next season. We've already seen the rest of the pack make some gains in performance."
With the 2003 POWERade championship settled, the 2004 crown might just come down to head-to-head performances between Anderson and Johnson once agin. The two drivers used to make tuning decisions for six-time champion Warren Johnson. But the champion's son, Kurt, moved on to start a career behind the wheel in 1993. Five years later, Anderson did the same.
Now the two former tuners are playing to win as drivers. So far, Anderson has the edge. Johnson has four wins in eight final rounds. Anderson and Johnson have met each other on elimination day nine times. Anderson has eight wins, including the last eight matchups. Anderson is 4-0 against Johnson in the final round.
"It came down to the head-to-head matchups and if he had won more of them, I am sure Kurt would (have won) the Pro Stock championship," Anderson said. "It is better to win the championship like this, going against the best competition as many times as we have. I'm just real glad we've come out on top as many times as we have. I'm having a blast this season. This is why we race, we race to win."