Seattle: Anderson impressive with charge towards the top

KENT, Wash. -In a category that has an average of 36 vehicles trying to qualify for a 16-car field, Greg Anderson has become a serious contender for the 2002 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship. The Charlotte, N.C., resident has quietly moved...

KENT, Wash. -In a category that has an average of 36 vehicles trying to qualify for a 16-car field, Greg Anderson has become a serious contender for the 2002 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship.

The Charlotte, N.C., resident has quietly moved into third place in the standings and is one of only three drivers (Bruce Allen and Mike Edwards) to have won twice during a season that as featured 10 different winners in the first 12 races.

Anderson will try to become the first to win three times and move closer to the top of the standings when he competes in the 15th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, July 26-28, at the renovated Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.. Gary Scelzi, Whit Bazemore and Mark Osborne are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

After spending several years as the crew chief for six-time NHRA champion Warren Johnson, Anderson began racing a limited schedule in a second car owned by fellow Pro Stock driver George Marnell. After parting ways with Marnell, Anderson joined current team owner Ken Black driving the Vegas General Construction Chevy Cavalier for the 2002 season. After a slow start, Anderson and the team have been making huge strides in the cars set up, earning two wins in four final rounds in the last six events.

"I've had a great team all along this year but it's just taken us awhile for us to gel," said the 41-year-old Anderson. "I'm pleasantly surprised but I had high expectations like this - I expected to run in the top-five. I am surprised that we are second in points but I knew we could run with the top-five cars by now. We've been gaining horsepower and getting better every week but there are still areas where we can improve. We've got big plans with our engine department and hopefully we'll get more power."

In a category that has seen only two drivers qualify for every event this season (Johnson and Ron Krisher), Anderson has been among the leaders in consistency, posting only one DNQ (did not qualify) in March at the third race of the year.

"It's unreal," said Anderson. "There are more and more guys coming into this class every year and you just wonder if they think it looks easy. It's very stressful though. It seems to me that qualifying has been more stressful than the actual race day. You can't race if you don't qualify and it's so difficult to qualify anymore. You've got three or four hundredths separating the pack - you can't screw up even once."

With the second half of the season underway, Anderson has rocketed out of obscurity to become a serious threat to win the $200,000 POWERade Pro Stock title.

"In the beginning of the year our goals were to win a couple of races and be in the top-five in the points standings," said Anderson. "Now it's shaping up like we might have a shot at the championship, but I don't want to get into that rut. I don't want to be worried about the guys that are close to me in points. I'm going out there to win the race. I'm not expected to win the championship, so right now what's making me happy is winning races. But if at the end of the year I can win the championship, that would be absolutely fantastic."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Bruce Allen , George Marnell , Ken Black