From what many may have considered to be battling from behind, multi-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion and two-time K&N Horsepower Challenge winner, Greg Anderson showed the entire drag racing community that he and his team should be far from counted out by the time the dust settled during the NHRA's most recent stop in Norwalk, Ohio for the Summit Racing NHRA Nationals.
Greg Anderson wins 2010 Summit Racing NHRA Nationals
Two-time K&N Horsepower Challenge winner Greg Anderson
Second-seeded in the 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Anderson hadn't, to this point, had the season one had come to expect from him and his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP. All it took was one weekend, not to mention the biggest weekend of the year for the NHRA Pro Stock Class, for Anderson and his team to make a huge turn around.
With only two hits at the track for the eight drivers qualified for the K&N Horsepower Challenge, Anderson knew just how important those Friday sessions were going to be for racing on Saturday.
"It's a very important race to make sure Friday really counts," explained Anderson. "Race Day is Saturday and you only have Friday to get ready. I got out there for my first round and I don't even get into second gear and I have a transmission problem. I come back and I think 'Oh boy, is this how this weekend is going to go'. You get one run right behind the eight-ball and you can hardly ever make that up."
The second session on Friday was later in the evening for the Pro Stock class, due to a couple of accidents during a previous classes qualifying session. This made the air and track conditions quite different for Anderson and many of the other drivers.
"Then we came back in the next session and we just made [pauses] a decent run," he continued. "We just got into the middle of the pack in the number nine spot and nothing to scare anybody over, that's for sure."
"Maybe that was a good thing and maybe that fooled everybody into a false sense of security for Saturday's race," he added referring to his competitors in the 26th Annual K&N Horsepower Challenge.
After a full year of qualifying, the elite eight Pro Stock drivers took to the track to lay it all on the line for their shot at the single biggest race in all of NHRA and the $50,000 purse for the Champion.
Anderson reflects on the chain of events that led him to the final round during the big event on Saturday.
"We came out on Saturday and found a little performance in the car during our first round and got around Rodger Brogdon. I got lucky since they had a little advantage on the starting line," he said. "By second round, we got the car a little bet yet when we ran Allen Johnson. He had a small problem with some tire shake and that led us to the final to take on 'Superman'."
Mike Edwards, or "Superman" as Anderson referred to him, had made his way to the final round on his side of the ladder from the number one spot, by first taking out, the winningest driver in NHRA Pro Stock history, Warren Johnson and then easily slipping by Jeg Coughlin, when he had a tire rattle problem as well.
Although Edwards has sewn up numerous event championships, garnered tons of number one qualifiers and is the reigning NHRA Pro Stock Champion, the K&N Horsepower Challenge Championship had still eluded him and he was considered to the odds on favorite coming into the event in Ohio.
Only Greg Anderson stood in his way and Anderson was showing that his testing following the previous NHRA event in Bristol was paying off.
When the finalists lined up for all the marbles, it was Edwards' third final round and Anderson's sixth in K&N Horsepower Challenges with Edwards looking to grab his first win and Anderson his third.
In the history of the shootout, it was their first meeting in any round, let alone the final.
Anderson was out of the gate first and held his .015 starting line advantage through the stripe for the holeshot win, denying Edwards the shootout victory for yet another season.
In the 26 year history of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, Anderson's final round holeshot victory was only second of the event.
"As the day went on we just gained more and more confidence," said Anderson. "Timing is everything. I got the right guy at the right time and just put it all together."
The 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge Championship was only the first race of the weekend for Anderson and his team and winning by the second, or the NHRA National Event now at hand, would mean another $25,000 bonus in his pocket for doubling up. A feat Anderson has managed to accomplish before.
"And then to get that check," said Anderson of the third K&N Horsepower Championship. "Then you are so confident going into Sunday. You are thinking gee, can it be another day like that, can we do no wrong?"
Anderson went on to have a carbon copy day during Sunday's festivities to win the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals and the double up bonus and all at his sponsor's event.
"We kept wondering what race, what event, was it going to be to snap us out of our funk," said Anderson. "Obviously it took K&N's race to get it going. I just thank the Lord for K&N and Steve Williams and all the great people K&N has working for them. It totally turned our season around, nothing but kudos to K&N."
"The K&N Challenge is the most fun race we have as Pro Stock drivers for the whole season," he added. "We just go out there and race for big cash. We don't have to worry about points or anything like that. It's just very exciting and I count my lucky stars that K&N decides to hold it Summit Motorsports Park, right at my sponsors race and track."
Anderson jokes about pulling off the whole weekend at his sponsor's race. "Some people probably think it was rigged, how in the hell could all that happen? It sure as heck turned out better than I expected."
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