FOR RELEASE: 2005-05-22 Greg Anderson's Pontiac Takes Fourth Consecutive Win At National Trail Raceway
Kurt Johnson Drives Chevy Cobalt To Final Round Appearance
HEBRON, Ohio, May 22, 2005 – When Pontiac Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson made his professional NHRA debut at National Trail Raceway in 1998, he had no idea that he would quickly come to own the quarter-mile track on the east side of Columbus, Ohio. Today he drove his Summit Racing Pontiac to his fourth consecutive victory at the 41st annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway, his second consecutive win this season. Anderson defeated Kurt Johnson, who qualified No. 2 in his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt with an elapsed time of 6.737 seconds at 204.35 mph to Johnson’s 6.787 and 204.20 mph. It was Johnson’s first final-round appearance of the season in only his third race in his new Chevy Cobalt, and amazingly he has reached the semifinals or better in all three races.
"I was so nervous before that first start at Columbus," said Anderson . “It was almost like an out-of-body deal. I almost felt like I didn’t belong there with all of these people that I’d either worked with or watched race for all of these years, and here I was locking horns with them. It was a neat, neat deal. It was so special, but I hardly remember any of it because I was so nervous.
"And now, Columbus, Pontiac, and the Pontiac Performance Nationals, that seems to be what I’m all about. Every time one of my sponsors sponsors a race, I seem to run good. If I don’t win it, I have a good showing. Either I need more sponsors or I need my sponsors to sponsor more races, one or the other."
"The track temperature went down 20 degrees before the final,” said Johnson, “and even though we tried to compensate for it, we were still a little light in our clutch setting, and it cost us. That’s one area of our program that has shown inconsistency throughout the year, so we will go back to our proven setup for the next race. Even so, this was a great weekend. In three races with our new ACDelco Chevy Cobalt, we’ve gone to a final and two semifinals, and climbed five spots in the points. We’re getting closer. The car just keeps getting better, and with enough clutch it could have won today. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t our day, so we’ll take everything we’ve learned this weekend to Topeka and see if we can take that final step into the winner’s circle.”
For the second race in a row it was an all-GM Pro Stock semifinals as three-time defending event champion Anderson met Mike Edwards in a pair of Pontiacs in one semifinals, and for Johnson, reaching the semifinals for the third consecutive race since debuting his new ACDelco Chevy Cobalt, and Jason Line it was déjà vu as they staged a repeat of their semifinal contest last week at Atlanta with different results. Today Johnson got the best of Line to reach his first final of the season with an elapsed time of 6.750 seconds at 204.48 mph to a 6.778 and 202.67 for Line.
After light showers delayed the each class finals by a few hours, Anderson and Johnson settled in for their ninth career final-round with Johnson looking for a breakthrough win. Johnson had defeated Kenny Koretsky in Round 1, Richie Stevens in Round 2, and Line in the semifinals to reach the finals for the first time this season and 55th time in his career. Anderson bested Jeg Coughlin in Round 1, points leader Warren Johnson in Round 2, and Edwards in the semifinals to make his second consecutive money-round appearance.
"It was just a great day," said Anderson. "I really feel good. This is the first race really all year that we really ran well. We had great performance all day and got better every round. We haven’t seen that out of this team this year. I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team. We certainly dug ourselves in a hole to start out with, but we didn’t give up. We got a little bit better every round all weekend, through the qualifying and through race day, and right now I’m pretty proud.
"This has always been a tough track to tame. Every time you come here it’s hot, the track is greasy, and everybody complains about it. My teammate, Jason Line, hates to come here. He had his wreck here and he’s scared to death to come here. Me, I love the place. It just seems like I can’t do any wrong here. They changed the date on us and we knew it was going to be cooler, and the track was probably going to be faster because of that. I knew that might throw a wrench into my plans, but there’s some kind of 'mojo' going on here. I’m not quite sure what it is, but obviously it’s great for me. We ought to race here three or four times a year as far as I’m concerned."
Season points leader Warren Johnson drove his GM Performance Parts Pontiac to his 134th career NHRA No. 1 qualifying position for today’s eliminations, and he leaves Columbus with a 79-point lead over Anderson after 8 of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing events.
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon in his Chevy Monte Carlo reached the semifinals for the second consecutive race, matching his result last week at Atlanta. Here at Columbus he defeated fellow Chevy driver Tommy Johnson Jr. in Round 1 and No. 2 qualifier Tim Wilkerson in Round 2 before losing to Gary Scelzi in a classic side-by-side semifinal duel. Scelzi had an elapsed time of 4.811 seconds at 322.65 mph to narrowly beat Pedregon’s 4.812 e.t. and 324.36 mph. John Force went on to defeat Scelzi in the finals for his second consecutive win.
Tony Schumacher won Top Fuel by defeating Doug Kalitta in the finals with an elapsed time of 4.489 seconds at a new national record speed of 336.15 mph.
In the Sportsman ranks, Dan Fletcher of Churchville, N.Y., in a ’69 Summit Racing Chevy Camaro won in Stock Eliminator, Steve Cohen of Trilby, Fla., won Super Gas in his ’04 Grand Am, and Matthew Albright from Clyde, Ohio, won Super Street in his ’66 Chevelle.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the 17th annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kansas, on May 26-29.
Winner – Greg Anderson (Pontiac), 6.737ET/204.35MPH
Runner-up – Kurt Johnson (Chevy Cobalt), 6.787ET/204.20
No. 1 Qualifier – Warren Johnson (Pontiac), 6.723ET/205.13MPH (both track records)
Top 10 - 1. Warren Johnson (Pontiac), 672; 2. Greg Anderson (Pontiac), 593; 3. Dave Connolly (Chevrolet), 550; 4. Jason Line (Pontiac), 548; 5. Kurt Johnson (Chevy Cobalt), 474; 6. Ron Krisher (Chevy Cobalt), 388; 7. Richie Stevens (Dodge), 383; 8. Jim Yates (Pontiac), 378; 9. Greg Stanfield (Chevrolet), 376; 10. Jeg Coughlin (Dodge), 362.
Winner – John Force (Ford), 4.776ET/324.51MPH
Runner-up – Gary Scelzi (Dodge), 4.764ET/326.79MPH
No. 1 Qualifier – Whit Bazemore (Dodge), 4.762ET (track record)/322.34MPH
Top 10 – 1. John Force (Ford), 602; 2. Gary Scelzi (Dodge), 522; 3. Robert Hight (Ford), 510; 4. Cruz Pedregon (Chevrolet), 508; 5. Whit Bazemore (Dodge), 503; 6. Ron Capps (Dodge), 443; 7. Eric Medlen (Ford), 415; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Chevrolet), 407; 9. Bob Gilbertson (Chevrolet), 354; 10. Tony Pedregon (Chevrolet), 353.
Winner - Tony Schumacher, 4.489ET/336.15MPH (new national record)
Runner-up – Doug Kalitta, 4.513ET/324.90MPH
No. 1 Qualifier – Larry Dixon, 4.510ET/331.94MPH (track record)
1. Doug Kalitta, 684; 2. Tony Schumacher, 641; 3. Morgan Lucas, 502; 4. Larry Dixon, 497; 5. David Grubnic, 479; 6. Brandon Bernstein, 452; 7. Cory McClenathan, 429; 8. Scott Kalitta, 408; 9. Doug Herbert, 405; 10. David Baca, 310.