Greg Anderson made his sponsor proud at the venue that boasts its name and added a feel-good moment to what has been a tough season on and off the track when he drove his Summit-sponsored Pontiac to an upset final-round victory over favored Mike Edwards to win the 26th annual K&N Horsepower Challenge, held Saturday of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.
Anderson, appearing in his sixth Challenge final, earned his third payday with a holeshot victory over Edwards, keeping the reigning season champ winless in three finals at the special event. Anderson’s .058 reaction time and 6.685 held off Edwards’ .073-initiated 6.677 by just .007-second.
“When I saw this trophy on the stage this morning, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life, and there were two big ol’ rings sitting there,” said Anderson. “I looked at those, and I said, ‘You know, I have no earthly idea how I’m going to do this, but I have got to get those rings and that hood-scoop trophy,’ ” said Anderson. “I still don’t know how it happened, I really don’t. We had a decent car today, and I drove decent, but neither one was great. Somehow, the timing was right. Every round, it was just enough to win, so it all comes down to timing and who you run when and what kind of light they cut that particular round and what kind of run they make.
“We’ve had a great day today, and that gives me confidence for tomorrow. I’m telling you that confidence is a huge part of this deal. I’m going to come out here tomorrow and think I can win tomorrow too and get that double-up bonus and finally win an NHRA national event this year. I think our season’s going to change starting right now. I think this is the thing I’m going to look back on as what changed our season and what got us going finally.”
Anderson’s victory was worth a cool $50,000, and Edwards will take home $10,000 in runner-up money. Should Anderson win the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Sunday, he will earn a sweep bonus of $25,000. Anderson is the most recent competitor to sweep the weekend, winning the specialty race and the national event in 2004.
Prior to the final, Anderson beat Challenge rookie Rodger Brogdon on a holeshot, 6.68 to 6.66, in round one, and Allen Johnson in the semifinals, 6.67 to 6.71. Edwards had defeated Warren Johnson, 6.63 to 6.67, and defending Challenge champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. with a 6.65 in the semifinals after Coughlin shook the tires. Allen Johnson and Coughlin each earned $3,000 for the semifinal finishes; first-round finishers receive $2,500.