Sonoma: GM Racing final report

Pontiac's Greg Anderson Reaches 50 Career NHRA Pro Stock Victories at Infineon Raceway Del Worsham Puts Chevy Impala SS in Funny Car Final SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2007 - The conclusion of a grueling stretch of six races ended just the way it ...

Pontiac's Greg Anderson Reaches 50 Career NHRA Pro Stock Victories at Infineon Raceway
Del Worsham Puts Chevy Impala SS in Funny Car Final

SONOMA, Calif., July 29, 2007 - The conclusion of a grueling stretch of six races ended just the way it began for three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver, who won the first event of the set at Englishtown, N.J. on June 24, closed out the series with his seventh victory of the season by defeating teammate Jason Line in the final round of the 20th annual Fram Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. By securing today's win, Anderson became the second quickest driver in the history of the NHRA (behind Bob Glidden) to reach 50 career national-event victories.

"Things were going so well when we got to 49 that it made this one seem awfully hard," said Anderson. "I knew that was going to happen - that we would hit the brakes, so to speak. This class is so great and it's so hard to win these days that you have to appreciate every one. It feels great to get 50 and I'm pretty proud of that. We're on a good pace and I'm not certain how long we can keep it going, but tonight I'm going to go home and enjoy it."

Anderson came into today's race with the Summit Racing Pontiac qualified in the No. 1 position after running a track-record elapsed time of 6.605 seconds. He defeated Bob Panella Jr. in round one with a 6.631 e.t. at 207.94 mph, Jim Yates in round two with a 6.629 second run at 208.55 mph, and Dave Connolly in round three by posting a 6.642 e.t. at 207.78 mph. In the finals against Line, both Pontiacs were dead even off the starting line, although Anderson grabbed a slight advantage and held off his teammate at the stripe with a 6.657 second run at 207.72 mph to Line's 6.688 e.t. at 204.06 mph. Anderson's margin of victory was .035 of a second.

"To have both Summit Racing Pontiacs in the final was exactly what the doctor ordered," said Anderson. "There was probably a little luck along the way but that's part of it - to get some momentum, to get some confidence and to put a smile on our faces. Now we'll go home and try to smooth out the wrinkles, try to come back at Brainerd real strong and roll into that Countdown as strong as we were at the beginning of the year."

For Anderson, it was his third victory at Infineon Raceway to add to his wins here in 2004 and 2005, and the fifth time that he had raced in a final round at this event. It was also the sixth time this season he had won a race from the No. 1 qualifying position, and it provided Pontiac with its 179th all time win in the NHRA Pro Stock (Anderson has the most wins in a Pontiac with 48).

"This was a great, great weekend," said Anderson. "I needed a get-well race, Jason needed a get-well race and the entire KB Racing team needed one. We've been off our game lately, and I don't have all the answers as to why. We've been running some new parts but there's more to it than that. You can only work on so much during a national event. It's easy to get lost out here and hopefully we've found our way back. Maybe this was the shot in the arm we needed.

"This was a nice way to end this stretch, without a doubt. Hopefully this is a sign on what we can do for the rest of the year. We're back on our game. Now we need to show that we can win a championship no matter what."

Jason Line's journey to his 28th career final-round appearance began out of the No. 3 position, and during qualifying the defending POWERade champion set top speed of the meet at 208.59 mph. In round one he defeated V Gaines with a 6.641 e.t. at 208.33 mph, in round two he defeated Warren Johnson running 6.666 seconds at 207.85 mph and in the semifinals he knocked off Allen Johnson with a 6.645 second run at 207.15.

"This gave us a little bit of momentum," said Line, who clinched one of the eight positions in the Countdown to the Championship. "It was good, especially to win some rounds again, and anytime Greg and I can race each other in the final it's all good. It would have been nice to get the win but it's not that big of a deal. We should have our two Summit Racing Pontiacs in the final every week, but it's a difficult task with the level of competition we race against, and it's just not going to happen. This was fun, though.

"There will be no resting, I can guarantee you that. We'll be working our tails off. Unfortunately, the engine expired in my car on that run so it will create a little more work for us. We'll get it done and hopefully we'll be a little stronger at Brainerd."

It was the 11th time since 2004 that the two teammates had met in a final round with Anderson winning eight times and Line three.

A triumvirate of three GM-branded cars advanced to the semifinals in Pro Stock and included Chevy Cobalt driver Dave Connolly. Connolly qualified the Torco Racing Fuels Chevrolet in the No. 4 position and beat Ron Krisher in round one, and Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin in round two before losing to Anderson in round three by a margin of .039 of a second.

"It was a good weekend," said Connolly. "We had to swap motors coming into raceday and we really weren't sure what to expect, but the Torco Racing Fuels Chevrolet performed real well. All of Victor's (Cagnazzi) motors have a ton of power right now, Tommy's (Utt) doing an excellent job of getting it down the track and that's exactly what we did on the first two runs. We got by Ron Krisher and Jeg Coughlin, who both have Cagnazzi power so we kind of knew what we were running and that we'd have to stay on our A-game.

"Greg's (Anderson) been running strong all weekend. I tried to cheat it a little bit to get a good reaction time. I let the clutch pedal kick up on my foot a little bit, got a little too relaxed in the driver's seat and the car started rolling. When I went to stop it, it was time to go. It's as shame. I had to beat a .025 or better, which isn't easy, but it is within striking distance. He left enough on the table for us to get in and capitalize, and really get the whole championship chase exciting. It didn't work out but we'll pack up and see what we can do at Brainerd. That track has been real good to us. It's a matter of practicing a little during the off week, getting our stuff freshened up and hitting it hard again."

Del Worsham drove the Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Impala SS Funny Car to his second final round this season. Clad in the CSK blue Impala shell for this event, Worsham came into raceday qualified in the No. 5 spot. He defeated Ron Capps in round one with a 4.889 e.t. at 320.97 mph, teammate Jeff Arend in round two on a holeshot with a 4.929 second run at 314.02 mph, and Robert Hight in round three running 4.898 seconds at 317. 94 mph. In the championship heat against John Force, Worsham's Chevy Impala crossed the finish line with a 4.851 e.t. at 314.68 mph to Force's winning 4.831 second run at 320.58 mph. It was Worsham's 34th career final-round appearance and his performance this weekend moved the CSK Chevy driver to within 85 points of a position in the Countdown to the Championship.

"It was a good weekend, but it's no fun losing," said Worsham. "It was our second runner-up this year and we're ready for a win. It's been a long time - since Indy 2005. I kind of had a feeling. The weekend felt good I was thinking we had a chance, but you never know. I'm very disappointed that we didn't get the win - I'd be lying if I told you otherwise. But I'm very happy with the way the car is running - it's much better. We're in ninth place, and Head (Jim) has four rounds on us with two races to go - it's going to be close."

A pair of Chevy Impala SS Funny Cars driven by Worsham and Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the semifinal round this at Infineon Raceway. Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified the Skoal Racing Chevrolet in the No. 3 position and defeated Jim Head in round one and Gary Densham in round two before losing to John Force.

Johnson's Chevy Impala was quick all weekend running 4.762 seconds in time trials, 4.913 seconds in round one and 4.881 seconds in round two. In the semifinals against Force, Johnson Skoal Racing Chevrolet was on another strong pull and crossed the finish line with a 4.911 e.t. to Force's 4.910 second run.

"We definitely have the Skoal Racing Chevrolet headed in the right direction," said Johnson. "We made some good runs today. I'm kind of aggravated with the semifinals but it's coming around. We have a good shot now. We have the car running where we want it to, we've worked out the bugs and we're competitive again.

"We put together a nice series of runs throughout the entire weekend and that was the most important thing - to get the car to go down the track consistently and make some good runs. We got some data we could learn. It's really close now. We're back to a competitive state and hopefully we can come at these next two races and win them both.

"The guys have worked awfully hard and need a day off. They'll service everything here, head to Brainerd, we'll park them there and let the guys fly home. I think rest is more important than working on the racecar right now."

New Jersey's Peter Biondo won Stock Eliminator in a 1969 Chevy Camaro to capture his ninth career national-event victory in the category, and his 30th overall national-event victory as a Sportsman competitor.

"I'm trying to get more wins than my age," said the 36-year-old Biondo. "But that's getting hard to do although this was definitely a milestone. Coming all the way here from New Jersey is just like in sports in that it feels like we're playing a far away road game in the home team's stadium. It's different frame of mind but sometimes that works for you in that you're a little more pumped up and aggressive.

"Our 69 Camaro was the focal point of the win. My driving was good for the most part but it could've used a little improvement in a couple of the rounds. This car is a fan favorite. They love 69 Camaros, they can relate to them, it does a little wheelstand and they all go nuts. It's pretty cool."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Tommy Johnson , Gary Densham , Bob Glidden , Peter Biondo , Allen Johnson , Jason Line , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly