Anderson Posts GTO Win No. 2 With Pro Stock Victory at Memphis Johnson Stays Hot With Fifth Final Round in Last Six Races MILLINGTON, Tenn., Aug. 21, 2005 - Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson seems to be getting a pretty good handle on his new...
Anderson Posts GTO Win No. 2 With Pro Stock Victory at Memphis
Johnson Stays Hot With Fifth Final Round in Last Six Races
MILLINGTON, Tenn., Aug. 21, 2005 - Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson seems to be getting a pretty good handle on his new Summit Racing Pontiac GTO as he captured his second win in the last three races by taking today's Pro Stock title at the 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South at Memphis Motorsports Park. The Minnesota native gave the GTO nameplate its historic first win two races ago at Sonoma. The two-time defending POWERade Pro Stock champ and current points leader defeated the hottest driver on the circuit, Kurt Johnson, with an elapsed time of 6.801 seconds at 201.49 mph to Johnson's 6.834 e.t. at 201.88 mph. Johnson has made five final-round appearances in the last six races to move into second place in points, only 73 points behind Anderson.
"It's just awesome how competitive this Pro Stock is," said Anderson. "It's got to be great for the fans, but it's giving us drivers ulcers. The amazing thing is somehow this team seems to rise to the top at the end of the day, and that's a reflection on the crew. But the competition is just absolutely phenomenal right now. It causes sleepless nights for us, but it's got to be great for the fans."
Anderson came into today's eliminations qualified in the No. 3 position as Johnson claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season. Anderson continued to improve throughout the day with elapsed times of 6.823 in Round 1, 6.805 in Round 2, and eventually the low e.t. of the meet in the semifinals at 6.785 seconds. Today's final-round match-up was a repeat of the final in Sonoma two races ago.
"Kurt's been awesome and my hat's off to the team," said Anderson. "You just have to keep digging down and try to find something extra. Through qualifying, he had the edge, but we stuck to the grindstone and just figured out what it took today, and we came out and today we were the best car. He was the best car in qualifying and we were the best car today. You've got to give them credit. They pressed us, they made us work and we came through."
Johnson has made a giant leap in the Pro Stock points standings on the strength of five final-round appearances and one semifinal in the last six races to climb from fifth in points to second. The ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver has three wins (two over Anderson) and two runners-up (both against Anderson) over since the St. Louis race last month. He scored his 27th career No. 1 qualifier for today's competition, and he defeated Kenny Koretsky in Round 1, Greg Stanfield in Round 2, and David Howard in the semis to reach his 60th career final round.
"It might seem like I have Kurt's number, but it seems like I can't put an inch on the guy," said Anderson. "One race he wins and the next one I win. He's been gaining a lot of ground on me. Nobody's been able to beat that guy. It seems like I've been the only one able to beat him in the last couple of months. That makes it tough. He's gained a lot of ground on us and he's the hottest driver out there. He's driving the wheels off of that thing and he's got a great-running car. But I do too, and it's going to be a toe-to-toe, heavyweight brawl. And I'm not going to say it's just going to be Kurt and I because there's going to be a whole lot more players involved. But right now he's absolutely phenomenal, and we've had to elevate our game too. It seems like we're both on about the same level right now which brings it back to the driver, and he's driving the wheels off of that thing. The guy's awesome and my hat's off to their team."
"We're still fine-tuning the setup on this ACDelco Cobalt," said Johnson, "and right now, it's just not happy when we get on a rough race track, and this one in Memphis is probably the roughest we race on. In addition, this car has been so good lately that we thought we could make other changes to compensate for it, and we just came up a bit short. When you run low elapsed time, you think you can just fine-tune it, and obviously today we should have made some other changes."
"Lane choice played a big role in the final. We hadn't been over there all day, and even though we were able to get down it in qualifying, it was completely different tonight. We spun the tires in second gear, and then it started bouncing over the bumps, all of which cost us. We're still pretty pleased with our performance this weekend, making it to another final. It's a great job by the entire ACDelco crew. That guy's (Anderson) been a pain in our side, and it would have been nice to beat him and gain a few more points, but we still have six races left, so we're still right in there with our eyes focused firmly on the target. As brutal as the conditions were out here this weekend, I'm just glad this race is over. Those fans hung in with us all weekend, and I know I'm beat, so we have to thank them for their support. I'm really looking forward to getting back on a smooth racetrack like Indy, because I'm pretty confident our car will be just fine. We'll go back to Georgia, go over everything from head to toe, and be ready to get after them at IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park, site of the U.S. Nationals, the next race on the NHRA schedule)."
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. was the highest qualified Chevrolet when he placed his Monte Carlo third on the grid, and in eliminations he made it to the semifinals before losing to his former teammate Ron Capps. Johnson defeated Tony Bartone in Round 1 and Del Worsham in Round 2 before facing off against Capps in the semis. Capps had an elapsed time of 4.986 seconds at 295.59 seconds to Johnson's 5.010 e.t. and 293.47 mph. In the finals Eric Medlen's Ford bettered Capps' Dodge with an elapsed time of 4.911 seconds at 300.13 mph to Capps' 4.985 e.t. at 302.35 mph.
Both Larry Dixon and Cory McClenathan, who qualified second and fourth, respectively, reached the semifinals in Top Fuel. Dixon defeated John Smith in Round 1 and Melanie Troxel in Round 2 before narrowly losing to eventual event-winner Rod Fuller in the semifinals. Fuller had an elapsed time of 4.673 seconds at 302.21 mph to Dixon's 4.679 e.t. at 308.00 mph. McClenathan reached the semis by defeating Mitch King in Round 1 and Scott Kalitta in Round 2 before losing to eventual race-winner Tony Schumacher. Schumacher had a 4.672 e.t. at 308.78 mph to better McClenathan's 4.816 at 303.50 mph. In the finals, Fuller captured his first career Top Fuel win by defeating Tony Schumacher with an elapsed time of 4.612 seconds at a speed of 313.07 mph to Schumacher's 5.747 e.t. at 172.47 mph.
In the Sportsman class, Rodger Brogdon of Tomball, Texas, drove his '04 Chevy Cavalier to the Comp Eliminator title over David Rampy.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is over Labor Day weekend at the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Claremont, Ind., on Aug. 31 - Sept. 5.