Pro Stocker Anderson Winning Important Battles

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2011

Not all of Greg Anderson's battles have been on drag strips in recent months. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

CONCORD, N.C. – Four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson enters the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship seeking his third consecutive victory at zMAX Dragway, but it’s the obstacles the Minnesota native has overcome in recent years that make the pressures of a fifth title run appear miniscule.

During the last two years, Anderson has lost his Concord home as well as his team’s transporter and its contents to fire. The latter just 10 miles into the trip from California to North Carolina after Anderson had collected his fourth championship last year.

“It’s been a wild two years. I’ve learned a lot about life and what’s important,” says Anderson, who still lives in the Charlotte area. “I’m definitely a stronger person than I was a couple of years ago because of all of it. We now know that almost anything that gets thrown at us we can recover from it. I’m the luckiest guy in the world because every time something like that happened no one was hurt. We just lost possessions. People are what’s important in life.”

Heading into this year’s six-race Countdown to the Championship, Anderson leads teammate Jason Line by 30 points, having notched five victories to Line’s four in the season’s first 16 races. However, in qualifying Friday for this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Line posted the quickest elapsed time, while Anderson had the top speed. Both were track records. Line’s 6.510-second run broke Jeg Coughlin’s elapsed time record of 6.520 seconds set in March 2010. Anderson broke his own record of 212.46 mph, also set in March 2010, with a top speed of 212.69 mph. Allen Johnson was third quickest with an ET of 6.529 seconds, just 19 one-thousandths of a second slower than the first-place Line. If Line’s ET stands through Saturday’s qualifying, it will be the third straight time he has been the top qualifier at zMAX Dragway.

“Anyone of those 10 cars(in the points) can win (the championship), but in my eyes the toughest challenge I’m going to have is going to come from my own shop,” the Summit Racing Pontiac GXP driver said. “It’s a neat scenario and a tough scenario. The bottom line is you’re going to have to string together your best six races of the season right now. The good news for us is we’re already there.”

Anderson described his 16-race regular season as “great”.

“The last four or five races in a row have been very, very strong for us,” Anderson continued. “We seem to be peaking at the right time. That’s very important in this deal. I’ve won a few championships along the line, but ever since they created the Countdown to the Championship I’ve just kind of struggled with it.

“It seems like the scenario each year going into it for me, somehow I got off to a good start to the season, had a good year going and then kinda started experimenting. We looked around to see if we could waste a few races and figure out something special for the Countdown. It ended up getting us kinda behind the eight ball and out of our race winning mode. I learned you just can’t do it that way. When you get to the Countdown you just can’t flip the switch and go back to trying to win races and be on the top of your game again. You have to be on that roll when you get to the Countdown. You’ve got to be at the top of your game, your race car’s got to be running great, your team’s got to be making great decisions and everything’s got to be normal.

“We got out of that mode when we built an early season lead through a few years and it backfired on us. It took until last year to figure that out and it was forced on me last year. We didn’t run very well last year so we didn’t have the opportunity to sit back and test things and waste a few races coming in. We were still trying to work our way up the ladder and earn a good seed going into the Countdown, so we ended up peaking at the right time.”

Anderson won last September’s event at zMAX Dragway, which was the second event in the Countdown to the Championship. This year, the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals kick off the title run.

The 50-year-old Anderson noted it was his Concord victory last year that propelled him towards the 2010 championship. He repeated his winning performance at zMAX in April’s four-wide.

“The good news is we seem to have found a way to make our race car happy at this race track,” Anderson said. “It’s a tricky race track. It’s got a little bit of a step to the starting line, which is tricky and that’s not something that people in the stands would notice. It goes flat and then it goes downhill. It’s a subtle deal by the eye, but in a race car if you’re driving out there all of a sudden the horizon changes. It’s a very critical area for our cars, because they still have the front ends in the air and then they hit that crown.”

However, Anderson is overflowing with confidence this weekend at zMAX Dragway. Four of the six tracks in the championship stretch Anderson “really, really loves” and he cites one of them as zMAX Dragway.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2011
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