Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac Grand Am To $100,000 Heartland Park Weekend TOPEKA, Kan., May 30, 2004 - Greg Anderson put his Pontiac Grand Am in the NHRA Pro Stock winner's circle for the seventh time this season by winning today's O'Reilly...
Greg Anderson Drives Pontiac Grand Am To $100,000 Heartland Park Weekend
TOPEKA, Kan., May 30, 2004 - Greg Anderson put his Pontiac Grand Am in the NHRA Pro Stock winner's circle for the seventh time this season by winning today's O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park. The 42-year-old North Carolina resident successfully defended his title at this event by defeating Chevy Cavalier driver Kurt Johnson in an all-GM final round. It was the 23rd career victory for Anderson, who also collected an additional $25,000 NHRA "double-up" bonus on top of yesterday's $50,000 payoff in the King Demon Crown Pro Stock special event. Anderson's earnings this weekend totaled more than $100,000.
"That's more money than I thought we'd ever win drag racing," said Anderson. "It's a great, great feeling to come through and take everything there was to get this weekend. We didn't have the performance advantage this time that we've had most of the season. It's even more gratifying when you're not running as good but you still get it done. We've been a little off our game, but we didn't panic, we stayed on our plan, and we made tiny little changes every run trying to learn what we were doing wrong. It appears we gained on it as the day went along. We figured a lot of things out and hopefully we'll be better off when we get to Columbus."
Anderson entered today's eliminator with his Pontiac Grand Am qualified in the No. 2 position. He defeated Mike Edwards in round one, JR Carr in round two and Allen Johnson in round three before meeting Johnson in the finals. The Vegas General Construction Pontiac picked up the pace this afternoon by running 6.832 seconds in the first session, and an event-best 6.816 seconds in rounds two and three. In the finals against the red, white and blue ACDelco Chevy Cavalier, Anderson's Grand Am crossed the finish line in 6.833 seconds at 202.30 mph (best of the meet) with Johnson right on his heels with a 6.845 e.t. at 201.31 mph. The margin of victory was .0052 of second.
"Our Pontiac Grand Am won a lot of rounds this weekend by just fractions of a second," said Anderson. "You can never really tell when you're in the middle of a run just how close it is. You can't tell who's going to win but that light kept popping up in my lane. This Topeka track has been great to me. We won last year, we won today and it's a fantastic facility for Pro Stock Cars."
Since the beginning of the 2003 season, Anderson has captured 19th national-event victories and raced in 23 final rounds. Anderson has also accumulated a 33-2 round win record this season for a .943 average. With nine races in the 2004 record book, Anderson extends his in the POWERade Pro Stock standings to 312 points over second-place Kurt Johnson.
"If we back off, if we go home thinking we're great, then we're going to lose the next race," said Anderson. "This is tough class and the competition has gained on us. There are a lot of new players who are picking up the pace as well. Look at Steve Johns, he's the real deal, so is Dave Connolly. Kurt's (Johnson) not going away any time soon, and Jeg (Coughlin) just had a little hiccup. But all of them will back in Columbus in two weeks just as strong as ever. The competition is strong, it's tough and what we've been able to accomplish says a lot about our team and the hard work that goes into making this Vegas General Construction Pontiac program successful."
Kurt Johnson picked up his second runner-up performance of the season to go with a win in March at the CSK Nationals in Phoenix. Johnson came into the Sunday eliminator qualified in the No. five spot and defeated Bruce Allen in round one, Kenny Koretsky in round two and No. 1 qualifier Steve Johns in the semifinals. Johnson was making his 53rd career appearance in a final round, his second at Heartland Park.
"It could have been a little better," said Johnson. "The ACDelco Chevrolet ran good all weekend. We made eight good runs, we were able to test some stuff and we were able to get the car dialed in on raceday. That's really what it's all about. It's like running 500 miles and you come in for a pit stop seven times. The last time you come in you'd better hit it dead-on perfect, and we did make a good run. To run a 6.84 in that right lane, we were good to 60-foot, and we were good to about fourth gear, and then it got loose. We moved to the wall real hard and I had to get it back. I had my worst light of the day in that round, but the run before I had a great light. I did everything the same expecting that I would be fine but unfortunately I didn't get it done. We were pleased with our overall performance. We just need to pick it up a little bit more before Columbus."
The Funny Car category saw a pair of Chevy Monte Carlos driven by Del Worsham and Tony Pedregon advance deep into the eliminator. Worsham entered today's event qualified in the No. 5 position and lost in round three to Whit Bazemore. Tony Pedregon qualified in the No. 2 spot and lost in the semifinals to Eric Medlen. With today's effort, Worsham moves back into second place in the NHRA POWERade standings, and Pedregon maintains his ninth-place position in the standings, but he's just 41 points shy of fifth place.
"We definitely had a good weekend," said Worsham. "You get yourself all pumped out thinking you're going to win, you do your best, and when the results don't turn out the way you would like, it's hard not to be somewhat disappointed. We spun the tires in the semifinals and that's probably the first time we've done that at halftrack with the Monte Carlo. We were trying awfully hard. We ran the 4.77 in round two and were shooting for our personal best after that.
"Going to Columbus I feel pretty comfortable with where we are and confident with the tune-up. We'll head back to the shop, and make sure we have all of our parts fixed and ready to go. We made seven runs here so we'll need to make sure we have enough to run a full week at Columbus and then Englishtown (N.J.) and St. Louis -another three-race stretch. With the points the way they are, this is going to be an important period for us. It's a lot of work maintaining two cars and making sure they run properly. The guys did a fantastic job today. The Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet ran good all the way up to the semifinals and even then it ran pretty good."
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the 40th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing on June 10 - 13 at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio.