- Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:55
NORWALK, Ohio – The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk July 4-7 will mark the start of the second half of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Many teams will look to start their push towards a championship run including four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson.
Anderson is one of the most decorated active Pro Stock drivers in the sport with 74 wins, 75 No. 1 qualifying positions and 572 round wins in his 325 race career. Anderson raced to a runner-up finish at the most recent event in Chicago and the new car the team rolled out in Bristol is showing encouraging signs heading into Ohio.
"I had a good day, I certainly can't argue that,” Anderson said. “"You can't let your guard down out here at any time. Second and third round, running Erica [Enders-Stevens] and Mike [Edwards] and not having lane choice – those were big rounds. You have to have a lot of luck to win those rounds, and I got lucky. But those were big wins for me; I haven't had many wins like that this year. I'm realistic and I know we have to keep digging, but I've got to be happy about those wins."
If Anderson looks to hoist the NHRA Wally for the third time in his career at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park on Sunday night he will have to outlast an ultra-competitive category featuring points leader Edwards, 2012 Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin and Shane Gray who is poised to win his first NHRA event this season. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home event victories at the track in 2012.
Anderson and his KB Racing teammate Jason Line both race Chevy Camaros, but while the cars are nearly identical in looks, each one has a mind of its own.
“They wouldn't have to be as finicky as they are, but we try to run them to get the very maximum speed and E.T. every run,” Anderson continued. “The class is so close, so competitive, that you can't ever afford to be in conservative-mode and just make sure the car is smooth down the racetrack. You'll get beat. You have to run them finicky, you have to be on the edge all the time, and sometimes that means you go over the edge and you miss it. I don't think anyone in this class – aside from possibly Mike Edwards – has the luxury of being able to run conservatively. It's just too competitive.”
Not only will Summit Racing Equipment adorn his Chevy Camaro, but the company also is the sponsor of the event as well as the world-class facility. Anderson enjoys having all the support and Summit employees at the event pulling for he and Line.
“To be at Summit Motorsports Park with all the Summit brass and employees, that's something we look forward to all year,” he said. “We haven't given them much to cheer for watching it on TV this year, but this time they will be there with us in person, and we hope to really give them something to cheer about. Summit Motorsports Park is the best place for us to perform well, and we've gone to that racetrack before and turned the team around. I give credit to the employees and bosses at Summit for that – they just encourage us to raise the bar, and hopefully that same thing will happen this year.”
In Pro Stock racing each nut and bolt put onto the car is weighed to make sure the car meets the requirements and even the slightest of extra weight can be the difference of going rounds or going home. Unfortunately for Anderson that carries over to him as well and he can’t partake in the famous $1 for a pound of ice cream Summit Motorsports Raceway Park is known for.
“I don't get to indulge in that too much," Anderson said. "My kids, my family, and the rest of the team get to enjoy that, but Rob [Downing, crew chief] has me on such a strict diet that I'm not allowed to have it. I might get to have a spoonful, but it's kind of a bummer. I certainly enjoy watching everyone else enjoy it, and they parade all the colors through here. I love ice cream, but at least in public and in front of my crew, I can't eat it.”
Those in attendance at Summit Motorsports Park will also watch the continuation of the tight points battle in Top Fuel with recent Chicago winner Tony Schumacher leading the points standings and three-time season winner Shawn Langdon lurking close behind in second. Massey, Antron Brown, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence have all won events this season and will be looking to add another win to the ledger, and other top contenders include Doug Kalitta, Khalid alBalooshi, Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, and Chicago runner-up Clay Millican.
In Funny Car, racers will continue their battle for the top points position, currently held by Chicago winner Matt Hagan, but which multiple drivers — including Johnny Gray, Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon — have also occupied this season. John Force and his daughter Courtney have both won races, and the elder Force, who has yet to win at Norwalk during his prestigious career, is riding a three-race final round streak and has surged from 10th to third in the series standings in the last three weeks. Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham and 2012 world champion Jack Beckman also will be searching for a victory in Ohio in the tightly-competitive class.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category has featured outstanding racing all season with a field that is separated by thousandths of a second. With three wins and the points lead, Hector Arana Jr. will be looking to hold off a tough field of competitors that includes first-time event winner John Hall, two-time season winner Michael Ray, Scotty Pollacheck and Hector Arana Sr.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. While visiting the pits, fans won’t want to miss the interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
Race fans can purchase tickets online at www.SummitMotorsportsPark.com/nhra and print tickets as an e-ticket or can order over the phone at 419-668-5555.