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Anderson Returns To Car; Smile Returns To Face

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 26 2014

Greg Anderson is back behind the wheel. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Greg Anderson didn’t set any records during Friday’s opening rounds of Pro Stock qualifying in Baytown, Texas. In fact, he didn’t even crack the top-list of qualifiers. But the veteran Summit Racing driver was left wearing a smile as big as he would have wore had he won an NHRA championship.

The reason was that Anderson, a former Driver of the Year winner, was back in a race car for the first time since having heart surgery prior to the start of the 2014 NHRA schedule.

“I’m very happy,” Anderson said at the site of this weekend’s SpringNationals. “I’ve been wearing a big smile all day long. The good news about that is I know better than anybody that the mind is more important than anything in this game. I think my mind is stronger now, I think I’m in a better place and a happier person than I’ve been at a racetrack in a long time. I hope that carries me a long way. I’ve said it before; the mind has to be 3/4 of what we do out here. Hopefully, that helps me win races and get in that Countdown to the Championship.”

Anderson wore a chest protector that he requested to be built by Simpson. The concept of the piece is based on the smaller-sized, Top Dog chest protectors made by Simpson and worn by children who race go-karts. A mold was taken of Anderson’s chest and the carbon fiber protector was crafted.

“It’s bullet proof. It protects my chest, and I don’t feel a thing,” Anderson said. “I can yank down on the seatbelts as hard as I want, and I don’t feel any pulling on my chest. It’s definitely a great product that Simpson now has, and I’m telling you, everybody who drives a car should have something like this.”

Anderson improved to a 6.607 at 210.54 mph in his second pass and finished the day in the No. 11 position. Although he didn’t jump right up to the top of the pack in his first day back in the seat of his red Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Anderson was exceptionally pleased with the ultimate outcome of the day

“It felt perfect. I felt at home,” said Anderson, who had an impressive .025-second reaction time and had a pass at 6.636, seconds/209.92 mph in his first full quarter-mile pass. “There was not one inkling of pain, and I didn’t even have to think about it going down the racetrack. It was just like it’s always been. From the minute I started that car to the turn off at the finish line I never once thought, ‘does my heart hurt, is my heart racing, is there any pain, is there any issue?’ Not one time. Quite honestly, I didn’t even know I had heart surgery today. It was very smooth and way ahead of what I expected. The chest protector I built certainly helped, but there is no question that the surgeons did a good job.”

The surgery repaired a bicuspid aortic valve. Doctors gave Anderson the OK to drive on Monday of this week.

“Just to be back at the racetrack and back in that racecar, it felt great. I guarantee there were a whole lot of people outside of my car a whole lot more nervous than I was today. I was at ease 100 percent. There were no issues, no problems. I’m ready to get back to racing as hard as I can and winning races with a smile. I’m a pretty happy camper.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 26 2014
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