Greg Anderson Edges Closer To Third Straight NHRA Pro Stock Title Defeats Jim Yates In All Pontiac GTO Final Round At Maple Grove Raceway READING, Pa., Sept. 18, 2005 - Greg Anderson edged closer to his third consecutive NHRA Pro Stock title...
Greg Anderson Edges Closer To Third Straight NHRA Pro Stock Title
Defeats Jim Yates In All Pontiac GTO Final Round At Maple Grove Raceway
READING, Pa., Sept. 18, 2005 - Greg Anderson edged closer to his third consecutive NHRA Pro Stock title today with a final-round win over Jim Yates at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. It was the third straight win on the tour for the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver and his first ever at this event. It was also the fourth win for GTO (third straight) since its introduction at Denver in July, and the first time a pair of GTOs had met in a Pro Stock final round.
"It took a couple races, but for the most part, this Pontiac GTO has been something special," said Anderson. "This is the best racecar I've ever had and we were in trouble before we got it. It's a dream to drive right now and that's the way my car was last year. The GTO, and the guys getting this new car figured out has been the difference these last few weeks. They do a fantastic job, and once they get it, they usually don't lose it. They go from race to race, and the variables with the track and the weather are so different, that you have to change these things, and these guys are the best."
Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac GTO started the day qualified in the No. 2 position. The two-time NHRA champion defeated Greg Stanfield in round one and ran the quickest elapsed time of the meet at 6.680 seconds. He then defeated Erica Enders in round two, and Kurt Johnson in round three in a key match up with championship implications.
"That race was absolutely huge and you have to find a way to put that out of your head," said Anderson. "You have to treat it like any other race, but I'm not going to lie, I can't do it and I don't know if Kurt can either. You try to run your same game and we both pressed hard. He red lights by .003 or he would have had a perfect light and then I have to try and chase him down. That's not an easy task. That ACDelco Chevrolet runs awfully fast. It was an important race and it just as easily could have cost me."
In the final, Anderson's Pontiac GTO took the win light by posting a 6.721 e.t. at 205.19 mph while Yates' GTO followed with a 6.771 second run at 204.57 mph. Anderson's margin of victory was only .011 of a second.
"The final was tight," said Anderson. "Jim Yates did a great job. He ran great all weekend, he has the same car I have, a brand-new GTO, and he has to be feeling pretty good about his right now too."
For Anderson, it was his 38th career victory and his seventh win this season in nine final rounds. With today's victory, Anderson has now won at every track on the series' circuit with the exception of Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., a venue the NHRA will visit in two weeks. Anderson also extends his lead over second-place Kurt Johnson to 176 points with just four races left to be contested.
"When it's all said and done, this year may be even more gratifying than last year," said Anderson. "It seems like we've had to claw, and scratch and dig for every inch we can get. Last year looked easy, although it wasn't, because the guys just did a fantastic job of getting every thing right with the car all year long.
"Everyone throws their best shot at you every race, they know what to expect when they run us, and regardless of how good our car runs, we can still lose. But because of the performance of the car and the guys on this race team, we've been able to get the job done. Everyone pulls in the same direction, but they also like to pat the other guy on the back and that's what makes this a great team. They dig and dig and work, and they don't stop until they get results."
With is runner-up performance today, Jim Yates is beginning to realize the potential of his new Pontiac GTO. The two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion (1996-97), and three-time event winner at Maple Grove Raceway (1996-97, 2002) advanced to his first championship heat since winning here three years ago. The 52-year-old Virginia resident started eliminations in the No. 5 position. He defeated Richie Stevens in round one, Dave Howard in round two and Jason Line in round three before falling short by .011 of a second to Greg Anderson in the money round. For Yates, it was his 56th career trip to the finals and his fourth at Maple Grove Raceway.
"We're extremely excited about the opportunities the new GTO has," said Yates. "It's a tremendously stable racecar. The GM engineers that did the aerodynamic work on that car have got it where it's so perfectly balanced, and to drive it down the racetrack is a charm - a dream to drive. On top of that, it's pretty fast. We have a couple of things that have come together right now; the GTO is fast and Steve Schmidt has found us anywhere from five to ten additional horsepower in the engine. At Indy we struck on a combination for it on the last run, and we came here and were a top half car on every run. We felt like coming in here today we could win this race. We came up a little bit short in the final but we're excited about the potential this car shows us.
"This was awesome for the team. My son Jamie, our crew chief, works very hard and we're down to just a few individuals on the team. Jamie has been able to tune this GTO really well and he has a good handle on it based on the few number of runs we have.
"We've had a lot of success at Maple Grove. This track has always been there when we needed it. I can come up here, and living close to this track, we have a lot of fans that give us a ton of support. That means a lot and it makes it exciting to race here."
Four GM-branded cars driven by Jason Line (Pontiac GTO), Jim Yates (Pontiac GTO), Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet Cobalt) and Greg Anderson (Pontiac GTO) advanced to the semifinals of the Pro Stock eliminator. In addition, four competitors in Pontiac GTOs (Line, Yates, Anderson, Warren Johnson) and three drivers in Chevy Cobalts (Erica Enders, Kurt Johnson, Dave Howard) filled seven of the eight slots in the quarterfinal round.
"Certainly we would have liked to have gotten that round against Greg," said Kurt Johnson. "But we're not about to give up. We've got a fast ACDelco Cobalt, and a great team behind it, so we'll go on to Dallas, and keep pecking away at it."
Erica Enders had her best weekend of the 2005 season. The rookie driver of the Slammers Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 10 position and won her first heat in Pro Stock competition by defeating Rickie Smith in round one. Enders lost in the second round to points leader Greg Anderson.
"It feels really good to get that first round win out of the way," said Enders. "This was a hurdle we needed to get over. Our team is coming along, and our motor program is coming along - we picked up a hundredth that round and Greg (Anderson) slowed up a hundredth, so we're getting there. One day it's going to happen - we're going to win a race. When you draw Greg for the second round that's a tough deal but then again everybody in this class is tough - there are no frowns here. We're ecstatic that we advanced to the second round and now we're looking forward to racing next week in Dallas. It's only a couple of hours away from home so my family will be there. We'll see what we can do there."
Tony Pedregon drove a Chevy Monte Carlo to his first Funny Car victory since winning the ACDelco Nationals at Las Vegas in October, 2003. After qualifying in the No. 5 position, Pedregon defeated Phil Burkart in the first round of eliminations, Frank Pedregon in the quarterfinals and Gary Scelzi in the semifinals before squaring up with John Force in the finals. Through three rounds of eliminations, Pedregon's Chevrolet ran 4.850 seconds in round one, 5.251 second in round two and 4.907 seconds in round three. In the championship heat, Force smoked the tires at 200 feet, but at the 330 marker, Pedregon's Chevrolet also lost traction. An excellent driving job by Pedregon saved the Monte Carlo, and it crossed the finish light first ahead of the Mustang with a 6.349 e.t. at 191.02 mph. Force's Ford followed with an elapsed time of 8.339 seconds at 125.82 mph. It was Pedregon's 28th career victory and his second win at Maple Grove Raceway.
"There is no one better to beat than John Force because when you beat him you beat the best," said Pedregon. "I've won a lot of races before, but never as a team owner. I think it's just starting to sink in. I put a lot of pressure on the guys after Indy, and for them, they worked great this weekend in the heat, under the gun, they pulled through and they got it done. I appreciate that because it proved to me that they're tough, they're strong and they're with me."
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Pontiac driver Frank Manzo captured his 60th career victory with a final-round win over Bob Newberry. Only five drivers in the history of the NHRA, Kenny Bernstein, Pat Austin, Bob Glidden, Warren Johnson and John Force, have more wins than the Morganville, N.J. resident.
The next stop on the tour is the 20th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals on Sept. 22 - 25 at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Tex. It is the 20th race on the 23-event NHRA POWERade schedule.