Greg Anderson Concludes Magical May By Capturing Third Win Of '05 Two-Time Champ Delivers 150th All-Time Pro Stock Victory For Pontiac TOPEKA, Kan., May 29, 2005 - Greg Anderson became the first Pro Stock driver this season to win three...
Greg Anderson Concludes Magical May By Capturing Third Win Of '05
Two-Time Champ Delivers 150th All-Time Pro Stock Victory For Pontiac
TOPEKA, Kan., May 29, 2005 - Greg Anderson became the first Pro Stock driver this season to win three national events after driving his Summit Racing Pontiac to a final-round victory over Chevy Cobalt stalwart Dave Connolly at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. It was Anderson's third consecutive victory going back to the Summit Racing Southern Nationals just 14 days ago in Atlanta, and his third straight win at this venue dating back to 2003. It was also Pontiac's 150th all-time victory in NHRA Pro Stock competition, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the sport.
"Three in a row at Heartland Park, and three in a row on the circuit," exclaimed Anderson. "We're coming back. It was a great weekend all around. I can't say enough about the job this team does on our Summit Racing Pontiac. The guys at the engine shop and the team at the racetrack has kept us as strong as ever. We're going to be good all year and it's shaping up to be an exciting season in Pro Stock. We have so many tough cars right now in this class, and we seem to be hitting our stride, but man you slip one inch and you're going to lose - that's how tough this class is. It's just great to be a part of it."
Anderson entered today's eliminator with his Pontiac qualified in the No. 1 spot after setting a Heartland Park track-record elapsed time of 6.716 seconds. Anderson defeated Jeg Coughlin in round one, narrowly nipped Mike Edwards at the finish line in round two by .02 of a second, and defeated teammate Jason Line in round three before facing Dave Connolly in an all-GM final round. Anderson's Pontiac ran 6.759 seconds in the first session, 6.795 seconds in the quarterfinals and 6.775 seconds against Line's Pontiac in the semifinals.
Out of the gate first in the championship heat against Connolly's Chevy Cobalt, the Summit Racing Pontiac charged across the finish line with a 6.768 e.t. at 203.65 mph. Connolly's Carrier Boyz Chevy Cobalt closed with a 6.907 second run at 203.68 mph. The margin of victory for Anderson's Pontiac was .147 of a second. It was the 34th career win for Anderson and his 50th final-round appearance, moving the 44-year-old Minnesota native into third-place on the NHRA list for all time wins by a Pro Stock driver behind Bob Glidden (85) and Warren Johnson (94). Anderson is also 10th on the all-time win list among professional drivers and fifth among active drivers.
"We love our time at the shop," said Anderson. "We feel that these races are won or lost at the race shop and now we'll have a weekend to get everything freshened up. There's not a whole lot different you can do when you get to the racetrack as far as what you have with you with the engines and the cars - they are what they are and you have to make the right calls. About all you can do is execute and we've been doing that real well lately. But you must have that formula when you get to the racetrack. We look forward to any break we can get in the schedule and I can't wait to get back to the shop tomorrow morning."
When the NHRA POWERade tour departed Bristol Dragway at the conclusion of the O'Reilly Nationals on May 1, Anderson was struggling in fourth place in the Pro Stock standings with no wins to his name in 2005 and 171 points out of first place. Four weeks, 28 days and three national-event victories later the driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac has clawed his way to within 13 points of first-place Warren Johnson.
"We really struggled early in the season but it wasn't for lack of effort," said Anderson. "Somehow we missed that winning formula and we couldn't figure out why. We were doing everything the same as last year and it just wasn't working out. It's taken some different thinking and a little bit different approach to get the kind of results we wanted. We tried a few different ways to run these Pontiacs and they started to responded. It feels great to be able to rebound from adversity and now we're looking real strong. We have a lot of confidence. I don't know what is going to happen in the next few months, but I do know it's going to be a great battle, it's going to be a lot of fun, and I'm very, very proud of this team right now. We've tested, we've tested, we've worked on engines, around the clock, and dug ourselves out of that hole. It couldn't have gone on any longer or we would have been out of the points chase."
Dave Connolly came into today's race with his Carrier Boyz Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 2 position. The 22-year-old Ohio native defeated Kenny Koretsky in round one, Warren Johnson in round two and Greg Stanfield in round three before going toe-to-toe with Anderson in the championship heat. It is the second straight race and the second time since its debut less than a month ago in Bristol, Tenn., that a Chevy Cobalt has advanced to the finals.
"It was a Cinderella story in the making," said Connolly following his runner-up finish. "Greg Anderson got in the way and it didn't have the finish we had hoped. But Greg is tough and he made a good run. We probably set some type of record for wheel speed and came away with a terrible 60-foot time. After the wheel spin the rest of the run was normal. "For us to even be here, then get qualified and make it to the final was a win by itself. Even though we didn't get the win light, we have nothing to complain about. The way the Carrier Boyz stepped up to the plate and carried us through this weekend was just terrific. You couldn't ask for better guys to work with."
Four GM-branded cars driven by Greg Anderson (Pontiac), Jason Line (Pontiac), Dave Connolly (Chevy Cobalt) and Greg Stanfield (Chevrolet) advanced to the semifinal round. With Anderson and Line paired on one side of the ladder, and Connolly and Stanfield facing off on the other side of the bracket, another Pontiac vs. Chevrolet final-round matchup was guaranteed early in today's eliminator.
Line came into today's eliminator fourth in the points, and his fifth semifinal-round appearance for the season solidified his hold on fourth place in the points standings. Line lost in round three to teammate Greg Anderson.
"It could have been better, it could have been worse," said Line. "He was better off the tree and both runs were a little soft, but we learned something to get Greg's Pontiac ready for the finals. The important thing is that the best car got to the finals. We keep winning rounds and putting pressure on the front runners. A steady pace wins the race and although we didn't get to the finals today we're getting to at least the semifinals every week and those points are adding up."
Greg Stanfield came into today's event ninth in the Pro Stock standings and advanced all the way to sixth place, just 62 points out of the top five.
"We've had a problem with car since we got here," explained Stanfield. "We never quite got a handle on it and the problem popped up again during the semifinals - it shut off as soon as I left the line. We have to go home, regroup and figure out what it is. There are no complaints though in our camp, especially when you consider what we were able to accomplish. When you have gremlins like we had, and you're trying to get those fixed while racing at the same time, it's tough. This is the first time in our four years of racing that we will compete at all 23 events and my goal is to finish in the top 10. We need to get home fast, get the electrical gremlin fixed and work on some other things to get ready for Chicago."
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. drove the Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to his second final-round appearance of the season. Johnson defeated Phil Burkart in round one, Gary Scelzi in round two and Robert Hight in round three before losing to John Force in the finals. Johnson's Sunday drive was good enough to move the Avon, Ind., resident back into seventh place in the Funny car standings.
"We've been lucky, but sometimes you need some luck and things went our way today," said Johnson. "When things are going your way it doesn't matter. We were able to get some nice breaks here and there, and those are the kind of things that have gone against us at the last three or four races. We're getting them all back in one day, but there's no asterisk by the win light, it just means win. This is a good team and they get the job done. I came to this race mentally focused on getting back in the points race. Driving over here in the motor home to this race I knew we needed to have a great weekend and we needed to do whatever it took to get the job done. That was my main focus and you can only do that by winning rounds."
It was a good afternoon for GM-branded cars in the Sport Compact competition that took place here this weekend at Heartland Park. Matt Hartford won his second Pro RWD drive national event of the season, and the seventh of his career by defeating Stephan Papadakis in the finals. The GM High-Feature V6-powered Chevrolet crossed the finish line first with 6.908 e.t. at 205.60 mph. Papadakis' Honda Civic followed in 6.940 seconds at 188.60 mph. Hartford becomes the first repeat winner in the Pro RWD category this year.
"You have to win rounds to win championships," said Hartford. "Mylon (Keasler) has this Chevrolet running from A to B every time in about 6.60 seconds, everywhere we go. Occasionally we can step it up into the 6.50s, but right now you have to race the track and race your opponent. If your opponent's going to run an .80, then just make sure you run quicker than an .80. In the finals we were a little soft on it and could have used some more clutch, but Steph hadn't made it down the track all weekend, and if we could just go A to B, we should be able to win. It almost got us, but we pulled it off and the 6.90 was quick enough to beat his .94. We had about ..05 on him on the tree. At 1000 foot, he went around me for about a nose and then we got right back around him.
"Mylon's raced a lot of Pro Mod cars on a lot of slippery racetracks so his wealth of knowledge certainly helped us here today. He tells me what he's going to do with the clutch, we talk about it and then we go back to whatever he wants to do. As long as our Summit Racing Chevrolet goes down the track there's nothing I need to say about it."
In HOT ROD, Ron Lummus set a national e.t. record of 7.837 seconds in qualifying in an Ecotec-powered Pontiac and then went on to defeat Kenny Tran in the finals. Lummus' performance numbers in the finals included a 7.864 e.t. at 185.26 mph.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the Eighth annual CarQuest NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on June 9 - 12.