Fans line up to meet and get an autograph from the 8 drivers in the K&N Horsepower Challenge at the K&N Truck & Trailer
NHRA Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line met in the final of the 2016 K&N Horsepower Challenge at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On the line was $50,000 in prize money and a custom trophy, but there was a little more at stake in the final this year. Anderson was shooting for his fifth K&N Horsepower Challenge victory. It would give him more wins than any other driver in the 30 years of the K&N Horsepower Challenge. Line was in search of his first K&N Horsepower Challenge win and a chance to make up for some missed opportunities.
Greg Anderson celebrates his win in the 2016 K&N Horsepower Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
As Pro Stock teammates in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the two drivers know each other well. They know each other’s tactics and strategies. They even know each other’s cars. In the final, Anderson won the K&N Horsepower Challenge at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and forged his name in drag racing history.
He won for the fifth time in the 30th running of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a bonus race in the NHRA Drag Racing Series for the Pro Stock drivers. Anderson won $50,000 and the trophy with his fifth win, breaking a tie he held with Kurt Johnson for the most Horsepower Challenge wins, who won four Horsepower Challenges.
“It’s really cool. Kurt and I have a great history; we go back a long way, we raced together a long time,” Anderson said. “I owe so much of what I’m doing today to those people. I owe a lot to them. I respect them, and it’s great any time you can beat either one of their records. I feel great about that.”
Eva Mack from Pennsylvania takes home the 2016 TRD Toyota Tacoma as the winner of the K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes
Anderson, driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Camaro, said after winning the K&N Horsepower Challenge on April 2 in Las Vegas that he wants to add to his total. “I look forward to finding way to make the number bigger,” Anderson said. “But it’s cool to be the winningest driver. I didn’t even realize it’s been 30 years we’ve had this race. That’s a lot of chances for people to win, and somehow I’ve won the most of anybody over 30 years. That’s incredible to me.”
The final race was a little anticlimactic, Anderson said. He faced Line, his KB Racing teammate, in the final. But both drivers had trouble at the starting line. Line’s car was leaking oil during the burn out. He shut his car down before the green light. Anderson’s car shook off the starting line. He shut his car down and coasted down the strip to a 12.33 second pass.
“I’m going to take that win and move forward and try to add to it when we come out next year, and the first thing that I have to realize is it’s not an easy deal,” Anderson said. “You have to do the best you can for a year to qualify for it. The last two years I haven’t been able to qualify for it — that shows you how tough it is. I’ll do the best I can racing this year because I love racing this race, and hopefully we can come back next year and shoot for Number 6.”
Greg Anderson and Jason Line race for the 2016 K&N Horsepower Challenge Championship in the final round matchup
The K&N Horsepower Challenge is made up of eight drivers. The top-seven qualifiers are seeded by points in the NHRA Pro Stock standings. The eighth driver is voted in by fans in an online campaign and on social media. Anderson was the top qualifier in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and beat Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the first round, who was voted into the field by fans. Anderson beat Chris McGaha in the semifinals before facing Line in the final. Anderson also won the K&N Horsepower Challenge in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011. He has two other victories over Line in finals this year, both coming on holeshots. Line won his first-round race over Shane Gray and defeated Erica Enders, the 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge champion, in the semifinals.
“That’s the third race in a row that I’ve kind of dodged a bullet,” Anderson said. “He’s got a bad hot rod right there. He’s going to be the man to beat this year. He’s driving great. Obviously, something went wrong, and I feel bad for him. It’s a heck of a letdown. I’m sorry that we didn’t put on a better show for you.”
Eva Mack, a fan from New Hope, Pa., was the other big winner, taking home the 2016 K&N Horsepower Challenge Special Edition Toyota Tacoma. Mack one was on eight fans drawn at random from K&N’s online sweepstakes. She was paired with Anderson during an on-site random pairing at the track on Friday.
“I want to thank the Toyota people for giving away a truck to a lucky fan; that makes you feel better than anything else,” Anderson said. “I feel great about getting to hand over the keys to a lucky lady from Pennsylvania more than anything else.”
Mack, a retired special education teacher, said when she met Anderson after winning the Toyota Tacoma, she became a fan. “He was a total gentleman,” she said. She also said after meeting the other contestants that she wished they would have won too.
“My race experience is more NASCAR, as I have been to Pocono with my brother,” Mack said. “I found drag racing much easier to follow.”
Her first thought was to give the Toyota Tacoma to her son in Texas. But after sitting in it, she is having second thoughts. “Who doesn't need a truck from time to time?” she said. “After getting to sit in the driver's seat, I am thinking it could replace my car.”
This 2016 special edition Toyota Tacoma features Toyota Racing Development (TRD) parts, including Cat-back exhaust, an air intake system, off-road bead-lock wheels, and a custom K&N Horsepower Challenge themed graphic scheme. Special thanks to Toyota Racing for providing this year’s one-of-a-kind Toyota Tacoma!
Be sure to watch for updates regarding the 2017 K&N Horsepower Challenge for a chance to be a part of K&N Horsepower Challenge history!