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Greg Anderson Keeps Summit at The Summit

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 13 2012

Greg Anderson is showing championship form – again – in the NHRA Pro Stock class. (Photos courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

The Summit Racing Pro Stock team had a rare bad weekend at the NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals. Bad, of course, being a relative term.

Neither of the Summit Pontiac drivers came away with the victory in Gainesville, but one of the two made it to the final round of eliminations. And that team’s driver left Florida exactly where he arrived – first in points.

Making his way to the final was Greg Anderson.

Starting the eliminations third, Anderson beat Greg Stanfield and Rickie Jones in the early rounds on Sunday before persistent showers forced NHRA officials to postpone the remainder of the event until the next day.

When the action resumed with the semifinals on Monday morning, Anderson picked up where he left off, using the quickest and fastest pass of eliminations at 6.520-seconds, 212.16 mph run to defeat newcomer Chris McGaha and advance to the 106th final round of his career and third in as many races this season. There, he faced 2009 champion Mike Edwards.

Anderson posted the quickest time in the final – 6.538-seconds with a top speed of 211.69. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome Edwards’ starting line advantage, gained through a nearly perfect .003 reaction, allowing him to hold off a hard-charging Anderson with a 6.566-second, 211.30 mph pass.

Not acceptable for a four-time Pro Stock champ.

“Going to three straight finals, we can’t be too upset, but this Summit Racing team is here to win every

Greg Anderson in familiar position.

race we enter, and if we don’t, we’re not happy,” Anderson said. “We had a great chance to do that today, but unfortunately I dropped the ball. We should have won that race, but I lost it, which is hard to take as a driver.

“It hurts to give one away like that, but what’s important is that I put it behind me and focus on the next race, which is not only a Summit race, but also in (team owner) Ken Black’s home town, so we have plenty of reasons to do well. That is why we are testing here this afternoon – to see how we can improve my car and get it closer to Jason’s (teammate Line) which is running so well, giving us a better chance of performing well in Las Vegas. No matter how well we do, we always consider ourselves a work in progress.”

Still, Anderson held onto the top spot in the standings.

Line dropped from second in points after Gainesville, to third. Line, the defending Pro Stock champion, was eliminated in the first round by Mark Martino.

Line won at Firebird in the previous event. He got that victory by beating…Anderson.

Top fueler Tony Schumacher again failed to end a victory drought – which extends back to the 2010 season – but he did leave Gainesville with the points lead.

The seven-time Top Fuel champion took the point lead by finishing second to Morgan Lucas.

“I really like where our team is at right now,” Schumacher said. “Yes, we haven’t won as yet, but we’re showing plenty of consistency. That’s extremely important when it comes to contending for a world championship.”

Schumacher advanced to his second straight final – he lost to Don Schumacher racing teammate Antron Brown in Phoenix – but ended up smoking the tires against Lucas and was stopped short of collecting his first victory in 26 starts.

His points lead is 14 over Lucas.

Johnny Gray could be a surprise driver to watch in Funny Car.

Johnny Gray making a move in Funny Car.

At the Gatornationals, Gray advanced to the semifinals by beating 2012 champion Matt Hagan, two-time champion Cruz Pedregon and mighty John Force Racing’s Mike Neff.

His loss in the finals came to another JFR power, Robert Hight, the 2009 champ. His weekend in Florida sends him to Las Vegas in two weeks in fourth place.

“We’re real happy with the points we did gather and we’re working hard to get into the Countdown and go after the championship,” Gray said. “We’re learning every week.

“Robert’s a good friend of mind. At the end of the track when I congratulated him for beating me I said, ‘You better keep looking over your shoulder because we’re coming.’”

In the finals, Gray shook his tires a couple seconds before Hight.

“Track conditions were actually a little better than what we thought they would be,” Gray said. “It was just a little weak and shook and came loose early enough that you don’t have the momentum to make it recover.”

Hight left the starting line first and when Gray’s Dodge shook the tires he assumed his chances were over, but than Hight’s car had a similar reaction later.

“Maybe I didn’t do as good a job as a I should have pedaling it,” Gray said. “I did what I could.”

Hector Arana Jr. showed no signs of succumbing to a sophomore jinx season as the Pro Stock Motorcycle division made its season debut at the Gators.

While he didn’t win – something he did three times as a rookie – Arana Jr. made it to the semifinals.

“Definitely, I’m upset right now because we had to wait a whole day, and now we have to go home after just one round,” Arana Jr. said. “I definitely felt better this morning, but it stinks to lose.”

Facing Andrew Hines in the semis, Arana Jr. slowed to his worst pass of the weekend, going 7.144 seconds at 155.58 mph, aborting the run before the finish line.

“We left the line a little too aggressive,” Arana Jr. said. “I think it spun a little, I’m not really sure. Then, I don’t know if there was a bump or what, but I double-bumped the shifter, so it went straight to fifth gear. It bogged, and I was watching him pull away, so I just pulled in the clutch because I got real mad.”

Hines, who lost in the finals to teammate Eddie Krawiec, made a pass of 6.781 seconds at 197.39 mph that was faster than Arana’s best lap of the weekend. Still, Arana and crew chief Dan Gonzalez swung for the fences Monday.

“We were going for it,” Arana Jr. said.

“It was a better weekend this time through, for sure,” Arana Jr. said. “It was a good first weekend, considering everything we went through. I wish I would’ve made a decent last run. I would’ve had a better chance, but, oh, well, what can we do? I guess we’ll go home and do some more homework and try to catch up.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 13 2012
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