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Anderson Takes Digging Expedition To Norwalk

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 4 2013

Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson hopes a return to Norwalk will result in a return visit from Wally. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Fourth of July weekend and the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, mark the start of the second half of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. It’s the point where many drivers will accelerate their pushes towards a championship, including four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson.

One of the most decorated Pro Stock drivers in NHRA history, Anderson has recorded 74 wins, 75 poles and 572 round-wins during his 325-race career. Anderson raced to a runnerup finish at Joliet, Ill., last Sunday and the new Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro the team rolled out at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway has begun showing encouraging signs heading into Ohio.

“I had a good day, I certainly can’t argue that,” said Anderson, seventh in points after 12 of 24 events. “You can’t let your guard down out here at any time. Second and third round, running Erica (Enders-Stevens) and Mike (Edwards) and not having lane-choice – those were big rounds. You have to have a lot of luck to win those rounds, and I got lucky. Those were big wins for me; I haven’t had many wins like that this year. I’m realistic and I know we have to keep digging, but I’ve got to be happy about those wins.”

Anderson will be looking to hoist an NHRA Wally for the third time at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park on Sunday night. To do so he’ll have to outlast a category featuring point leader/former world champion Edwards; reigning world champ Allen Johnson; four-time world champ/Joliet winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Shane Gray. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are defending event champions.

While Anderson and KB Racing teammate/two-time world champion Jason Line both drive Camaros, the nearly identical looking cars apparently have minds of their own.

“They wouldn’t have to be as finicky as they are, but we try to run them to get the very maximum speed and E.T. every run,” said Anderson, whose Chevy is tuned by crew chief Rob Downing. “The class is so close, so competitive, that you can’t ever afford to be in conservative-mode and just make sure the car is smooth down the racetrack. You’ll get beat. You have to run them finicky, you have to be on the edge all the time and sometimes that means you go over the edge and you miss it. I don’t think anyone in this class – aside from possibly Mike Edwards – has the luxury of being able to run conservatively. It’s just too competitive.”

Not only will Summit Racing Equipment adorn his Camaro, the company also is title sponsor of the seventh annual event as well as the world-class facility.

“To be at Summit Motorsports Park with all the Summit brass and employees, that’s something we look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We haven’t given them much to cheer for watching it on TV this year, but this time they’ll be there with us in-person, and we hope to really give them something to cheer about. Summit Motorsports Park is the best place for us to perform well, and we’ve gone to that racetrack before and turned the team around. I give credit to the employees and bosses at Summit for that _ they just encourage us to raise the bar, and hopefully that same thing will happen this year.”

The tight points battle in Top Fuel figures to feature Joliet, Ill., winner Tony Schumacher leading the standings in his U.S. Army dragster and three-time season-winner Shawn Langdon lurking in second. Massey, reigning world champion Antron Brown, Bob Vandergriff Jr. and Steve Torrence all have won events this season.

In Funny Car, Joliet winner Matt Hagan sits atop the point standings in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger. But multiple drivers _ including Johnny Gray, Ron Capps and former two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon _ have occupied the top spot this season. John Force, a 15-time world champion, has yet to win at Norwalk during his prestigious career. But Force is riding a three-race final-round streak in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang that has propelled him from 10th to third in points.

Pro Stock Motorcycle has featured outstanding racing all season with a field consistently separated by thousandths of a second. With three wins and the points lead, Hector Arana Jr. will be looking to hold off a deep field of riders that includes first-time event-winner John Hall, two-time season-winner Michael Ray, Scotty Pollacheck and former world champion Hector Arana Sr.

Professional qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday and will continue Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (EDT) Saturday and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. Sunday.

After suffering a temporary setback in his recovery from back surgery, Brandon Bernstein will sit out this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, sending J.R. Todd back into the cockpit of the ProtectTheHarvest.com/MAVTV Top Fuel dragster in Norwalk, Ohio.

“It’s a bummer because we really want to get into the top-10 and make the Countdown to the Championship,” Bernstein said. “In situations like this you have to err on the side of caution, but I do plan to race in Denver in two weeks.”

Todd drove the ProtectTheHarvest.com entry at the first two events of the current four-race swing. “I wasn’t planning on going to Norwalk this weekend,” Todd said. “I was thinking about catching a Sprint Car race around Indy. It’s worth blowing off your plans to drive a Top Fuel car. I’m glad to be back standing on the gas, but I just wish it was a better situation.”

Fittingly, Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park is the venue where Todd accomplished a major career milestone. “It’s where I got my Top Fuel license,” Todd said. “I drove Bruce Litton’s car for that in 2000. I’ve run there a few times while competing at IHRA and NHRA races. I also used to run there with Jr. Dragsters quite a bit, so it’s almost a home away from home for me. It’s a cool track. It’s one of the nicest places on the tour with some really passionate, knowledgeable fans.”

Track records at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park:

Top Fuel _ 3.780-seconds by Larry Dixon, June ’10; 322.73 mph by Spencer Massey, June ’12.

Funny Car _ 4.032-seconds by Ashley Force Hood, June ’10; 313.15 mph by Del Worsham, June ’10.

Pro Stock _ 6.583-seconds by Ron Krisher, June ’11; 209.36 mph by Krisher, June ’11.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.887-seconds by Hector Arana Jr., June ’11; 194.49 mph by Andrew Hines, June ’10.

National records:

Top Fuel _ 3.701-seconds by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Concord, N.C.

Funny Car _ 3.986-seconds by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.

Pro Stock _ 6.471-seconds by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Concord, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.728-seconds by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

Professional point standings:

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 973; 2. Shawn Langdon, 936; 3. Spencer Massey, 869; 4. Antron Brown, 765; 5. Doug Kalitta, 703; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 657; 7. Clay Millican, 620; 8. Morgan Lucas, 608; 9. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 559; 10. Steve Torrence, 549.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, 904; 2. Cruz Pedregon, 798; 3. John Force, 762; 4. Johnny Gray, 743; 5. Ron Capps, 735; 6. Jack Beckman, 717; 7. Courtney Force, 710; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 676; 9. Del Worsham, 664; 10. Robert Hight, 603.

Pro Stock _ 1. Mike Edwards, 1,090; 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 962; 3. Allen Johnson, 960; 4. Jason Line, 765; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 6. Shane Gray, 727; 7. Greg Anderson, 679; 8. Vincent Nobile, 676; 9. Rodger Brogdon, 564; 10. V. Gaines, 531.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., 526; 2. Michael Ray, 457; 3. Hector Arana, 408; 4. John Hall, 392; 5. Matt Smith, 373; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 366; 7. Adam Arana, 305; 8. Eddie Krawiec, 288; 9. Steve Johnson, 282; 10. LE Tonglet, 278.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 4 2013
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