GM Racers Dominate Auto Club Finals - Greg Anderson Rockets To Pro Stock Record, Del Worsham Takes Funny Car Victory POMONA, Calif., Nov. 9, 2003 - Pontiac Grand Am driver Greg Anderson finished off one of the most prolific campaigns by a ...
GM Racers Dominate Auto Club Finals - Greg Anderson Rockets To Pro Stock Record, Del Worsham Takes Funny Car Victory
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 9, 2003 - Pontiac Grand Am driver Greg Anderson finished off one of the most prolific campaigns by a professional driver in the 52-year history of the National Hot Rod Association by capturing his 12th victory of the season today at Pomona Raceway.
Anderson defeated Kurt Johnson in the final round of the Automobile Club NHRA Finals and established a new single-season record for most wins by a Pro Stock driver. Anderson's 67 round wins also set a new NHRA record for most in a season by a professional driver breaking John Force's previous mark of 65 set in 1996.
"We wrapped up the championship a couple of races ago but we didn't want to stop there," explained Anderson. "After clinching the championship we couldn't just stay home, they're still giving out trophies, a lot of money, and a lot of recognition and we decided to see what we could do. There was no sense changing our gameplan. We ran this Pontiac Grand Am full bore, very aggressive and it's worked for us all year. And then everybody started mentioning round wins and race records, and that was just another set of goals to achieve. That's been the story of my life. You set goals, try all you can to achieve them and then when you do, you raise the bar again."
Like so many times before this season, Anderson's Pontiac Grand Am dominated the Pro Stock field this weekend and entered today's race qualified in the No. 1 position, the 14th time this year he's started an eliminator from the lead spot. He defeated Allen Johnson in round one, Warren Johnson in round two, and Bruce Allen in the semifinals before meeting Kurt Johnson in the finals.
Anderson's Pontiac ran 6.748 seconds in round one, 6.756 seconds in the quarterfinals and 6.740 second in the semifinals. In the finals against Johnson's Chevrolet, Anderson's Grand Am led from the opening bell, launching hard with a .016 reaction time and stopping the timers in 6.735 seconds at 204.88 mph, the quickest e.t. of the afternoon.
The ACDelco Chevrolet crossed the finish line in 6.749 seconds at 205.26 mph. Anderson's margin of victory was .0221 of a second (approximately seven feet), giving Pontiac its 16th Pro Stock win of the season and its 125th all time in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
"I can't say enough about what this team has done," said Anderson. "I've just been along for the ride and let Rob (Downing) and Jeff (Perley) tune the car. My motor guys, Jason (Line) tunes the car at the track, and Joe (Hornick) and Eric (Maj) and Todd back at the shop, do a fantastic job. You cannot run like we have in Pro Stock this year without a tremendous amount of horsepower and I feel like we have the best engine program in the class.
"We continued to perform at a championship level for the entire season, we didn't sit on our laurels after Dallas. We have almost three months to go until we start the season next February. If we had fallen down in the last couple of races, and ran so-so, everyone else in Pro Stock would be feeling pretty good. Now we're making our opponents think hard on what it will take to beat us and that's what you want."
Anderson was racing in his 15th final round in 2003 and the win gave the recently crowned POWERade champion his 16th career victory.
"We're going to be a better team next year, it just depends what the rest of the class does," said Anderson. "You keep trying to get better every day and at every race you go to. My goal was always to be competitive in this class and maybe have a little bit of success. What we accomplished this year was beyond anything I ever dreamed of."
In Funny Car, Del Worsham charged to his third victory of the season by defeating teammate Cory Lee in an all-Pontiac final round. It was Worsham's fifth final-round appearance of the year, his 14th career win and his second victory at the season-ending NHRA Finals (Worsham's first win at this event was in 2001).
Worsham came into today's eliminator with his nitro-powered Pontiac qualified in the No. 6 spot. He defeated Scotty Cannon in round one, Whit Bazemore in round two and Tim Wilkerson in round three before facing Lee in the title heat.
In the championship round, Worsham appeared to have lost the race after he launched early with a red-light (-.046) reaction time. But Lee's Pontiac lost a cylinder at about 300 feet, forcing him across the centerline and subsequent disqualification.
"What a crazy way to win," said Worsham. "It's still exciting though. I didn't know that Cory had crossed the centerline, and to be honest I didn't realize that I had fouled either. From an e.t. perspective, we had a tremendous advantage going into the finals. My foot was down, my hand was on the brake and I was just going.
"Cory Lee, a great competitor and a team car of mine. I knew his car was going to run good and I told him to go ahead and beat me if he could. I was very fortunate today and I know that, but I've lost some races like that before and I guess this balances it out."
By winning today's race Worsham finished fourth in the Funny Car standings for his third consecutive top-five and his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. It is also the third consecutive season that Worsham has driven the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac to at least three wins in a year.
"I guess the big picture is that we had both Pontiacs in the finals," said Worsham. "Our team has really progressed in the last few years. In 2000 we started to run strong at the end of the year with this tune up and we've been able to continue that up to the present. Another key is that we've been able to keep this team together. A couple of team members have moved on, but for the most part we've been able to keep some key guys. We've never lost our baseline, or what we know and we've discovered some ways to maintain our consistency. We're really no faster than we were in 2001, it's just that our Pontiac Firebird is making better runs, week in and week out and that's what we're looking to do next year."
The next event on the NHRA POWERade tour is the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona Raceway on Feb. 19 - 22, 2004.