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Greg Anderson, Bo Butner Battle for NHRA Pro Stock Championship in Pomona

Greg Anderson racing in the Auto Club Finals in Pomona against teammate Bo Butner

Greg Anderson racing in the Auto Club Finals in Pomona against teammate Bo Butner

Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson is trying to treat the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona like any other event. Except it’s not like any other event.

Anderson comes into the finals as the leader in the NHRA Pro Stock standings. He has a 40-point lead over teammate Bo Butner.

Jason Line, the third-place driver in the NHRA Pro Stock standings, is 76 points out of first place. To make it more challenging, NHRA is awarding 1.5x points to the drivers this weekend. The top-four drivers in the standings are within striking distance of the Pro Stock championship. Still, Anderson said he wants to treat this weekend’s finals like it’s any other race.

“I try not to do anything out of the norm,” Anderson said. “Try not to make it more than it is. Obviously, it’s what we race for all year long. You’re supposed to put it all on the line and do something special and try to get it done. If you do that, you’ll probably make a mistake. Put too much pressure on yourself and go backwards. Just trying to stay calm and relaxed and trying to tell myself that it’s just another race. It’s not. But that’s my goal.”

Greg Anderson took first place and another Wally earlier this year in Las Vegas

Greg Anderson took first place and another Wally earlier this year in Las Vegas

Anderson has been here before. He has won four NHRA Pro Stock championships, the last coming in 2010. He admits that it’s been a while, but it is nothing new to be in contention and having the championship come down to the final event of the season.

He won the championship in 2010 in the Countdown to the Championship format. The final six races of the season are the playoffs for the drivers and riders in the NHRA Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle divisions. “It’s crazy. I guess that’s the design,” Anderson said. “They want it to come down to the end of the day on Sunday. And that is certainly the coolest way, it makes it tougher on the drivers. I’ve been here before and I’ve witnessed that deal.”

Anderson won two events in the Countdown to the Championship, most recently the event in Las Vegas. He is a 12-time winner at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona and has 90 victories in his career. But this year has been one of the more competitive ones in Pro Stock. Anderson said as many as 10 drivers and teams have the potential to win the season finale at Pomona.

“Every year it seems like it does get tougher,” Anderson said. “The only way I can explain it is they learn the right way to race. They learn how to race at that top level. Every year we have more and more depth in the field.” Unlike Anderson, Butner is experiencing the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship for the first time. Before this season, Butner never won a Pro Stock race. He has won four times this year. He still considers himself a sportsman racer, but he has become one of the top Pro Stock drivers quickly. “It’s a great year,” Butner said. “It’s a dream season, probably even beyond that because it’s in the pro category. I can’t ask for anything better. I’d like to be ahead, don’t get me wrong. We have a shot and that’s great.”

At the end of the weekend, it was Butner who took the win in Pro Stock over teammate Greg Anderson

At the end of the weekend, it was Butner who took the win in Pro Stock over teammate Greg Anderson

Butner has won one of the Countdown events. He has never been worse than second in the Pro Stock standings since the NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston in April. “We led from like Topeka on,” Butner said. “Of course if it was the other way, I’d love it. We started out 1-2 going into it. Now he’s one and I’m two.”

Butner has never won a Pro Stock race at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. The odds might be stacked against him heading into the final race of the year, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is a different deal. It’s a dream,” Butner said. “That’s all I’ll ever be is a sportsman racer. It’s been great, but it would be unimaginable to get up there on stage. I don’t know what else you could possibly do. I’m not going to quit by no means. “I have zero nerves. I’m having a great time. It’s fun. I do this for enjoyment, not for a living.


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