Greg Anderson scored a huge payday at the 4th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, winning in Pro Stock to back up Saturday’s victory in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also collected wins at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk.
It has been a tough season for Anderson, who has had to deal with the illness of team owner Ken Black and a house fire off the track and disappointing performance on the quarter-mile. The 2008 Norwalk champ hadn’t been to a final since he scored a runner-up finish at this year's season opener in Pomona, but he chose a great event – one backed by his sponsor at the facility to which it holds naming rights -- to stage one of the great performances of his career.
A day after banking $50,000 for winning his third K&N Horsepower Challenge, Anderson triumphed again Sunday to earn a sweep bonus of $25,000. Anderson, the last to sweep, in 2004, accomplished the double with an easy 6.72 to 6.98 victory over Allen Johnson for his 61st Pro Stock Wally.
“This is beyond a dream weekend,” said Anderson. “I couldn’t have even dreamed anything this big before we came here this week. I just hoped and prayed that we came here with a good performance and functioned properly throughout the weekend and just had a slight chance of sneaking a few round-wins and maybe a lucky victory away, and we ended up sweeping the weekend and taking every doggone nickel they had to give. It’s been a long time since we’ve had weekends like this. I guess I've got to go back three or four years for when we had a car that could do these things.
“We treat this race like our Super Bowl of the season because this is the biggest race. It’s got the K&N Challenge. It’s got Summit’s name all over it. We’ve got all the great Summit employees out here with their families, so you just want to do something special for them. You just can’t try too hard sometimes or you’ll just screw up, but things just went so smoothly, and we kept our heads.”
After winning Saturday, Anderson raced right back to another final, the 90th of his career, with Sunday victories over Johnny Gray, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., and, on a holeshot, Summit Racing Equipment teammate Jason Line, 6.72 to 6.71. Anderson also won the bonus race with a final-round holeshot.
After escaping with a narrow .002-second first-round victory against rookie Shane Gray, Johnson and his Mopar Avenger defeated Greg Stanfield and V. Gaines to reach the final, his third of the season and 20th of his Pro Stock career, to assure a first-time 2010 Pro Stock winner.
Points leader Mike Edwards, a surprise first-round loser to Line, still holds a commanding lead, 392 points, over Johnson. Anderson remains in fourth place.
The Top Fuel final featured Dixon, who entered the showdown a perfect 6-0 in title rounds this season, and Brown, who was 0-3, meaning that someone’s streak was going to be broken. In a race decided by just .002-second, Dixon kept his record intact, driving around Brown’s .066 to .091 starting-line advantage, 3.88 to 3.90. The victory is the 55th for Dixon, who owns a 176-point lead.
“Seven for seven, I feel fortunate,” said Dixon. “There have been a lot of tight races. That one there was real tight, two-thou. You could race that one again and get different outcomes. I heard Antron at the start and saw him for a bit, and then he kind of faded. I kept looking for some win light, and it came on in our lane. That was just a great drag race, and it’s nice to be on the right side of a tight drag race.
“Out of this four-race swing, to have three wins out of four, that’s huge. That’s the only way you can stay ahead in the points. Nobody can catch you if you’re winning rounds. We have four more races before the Countdown starts, and we’ll go from there.”
In reaching his seventh final of the season's first 13 events and 99th of his career, Dixon again looked flawless in the Al-Anabi Racing dragster, racing past Troy Buff, Doug Foley, and defending world and event champ Tony Schumacher. In the ninth meeting this season between him and second-place Schumacher, Dixon raced to a 3.91 to 4.11 victory to put the record at 5-4 in his favor.
Brown, runner-up this year in Gainesville, Houston, and Englishtown, reached his 52nd final by wheeling the Matco Tools dragster past Luigi Novelli, Pat Dakin, and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Cory McClenathan.
The Funny Car final was a rematch of the title bout a week earlier at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, and Wilkerson reversed that outcome with a solid 4.19 to 4.27 decision over points leader John Force for his second win of the season.
“It was great to win over John because he’s so good, and he’s coming into his own again,” said Wilkerson. “After one bad year, he’s making us all look like we don’t know what we’re doing again, so we’re happy to have that win over John. Last weekend, we let him off the hook.
“We need to do our deal and keep going down the track run after run after run. There are still four races left [in the regular season], so we have to keep on our game.”
Wilkerson, who drove the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang to his 14th win in Gainesville this season, reached his third final of the year and 26th of his career. After opening with a 4.20 defeat of technology teammate Bob Tasca III’s Mustang, Wilkerson ran back-to-back 4.27s to trailer Jeff Arend and Del Worsham.
Fourteen-time NHRA Full Throttle world champ Force continues to enjoy one of his finest seasons in years as he reached the final for the second straight time, the sixth time this season, and the 208th time in his incredible career. En route to the title round, Force’s Castrol GTX Mustang defeated the JFR team cars of his daughter, low qualifier Ashley Force Hood, in round one and reigning NHRA Full Throttle world champ Robert Hight in the semifinals, wins that were sandwiched around a second-round conquest of Paul Lee. The semifinal race with Hight was an odd one as Hight had a 1.2-second reaction time after apparently having difficulty with the Christmas Tree starting system. Despite the loss, Force still leads the points by 73 over Hight. Wilkerson climbed two spots to seventh.
Smith kept reigning NHRA Full Throttle world champ and points leader Hector Arana winless for the season with a tight final-round victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Smith was better at both ends of the track to secure a 7.07 to 7.08 victory and to cut into the front-runner’s points margin. The victory is the 12th of Smith’s career and moved him to within 120 points of Arana.
“I’ve got to thank my crew first. They kept my bike tuned up for me today,” said Smith. “We had a consistent bike. It went .04, .04, .04, and it went .07 in the final. It just got cooler, and I think we were probably too lean, but we held on to beat Hector. He’s got a really fast bike this year, but all in all, our Al-Anabi V-Twin motorcycle is pretty hateful out there. We came here to run with the best of the best, and we ran with them this weekend.
“Our goal is to try and be in the top five come Indy, and that just helped our progress to be in the top five. The other thing I’m working on is I’m trying to get my wife in the top 10. She’s gaining. She won a round today, and we’ve got three more races to try and get her in.”
Smith, who won the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte in late March in his only other final-round appearance this season with the Al-Anabi bike, reached his 23rd final by powering past Craig Treble, two-time 2010 winner Michael Phillips, and David Hope with bracket-like consistency, running 7.044, 7.047, and 7.044.
Arana, who scored his first win at this race two years ago, was looking for career win No. 7 in his 13th final. Arana rode his Lucas Oil Buell past Joe DeSantis with a 7.01, then ran back-to-back 7.03s to defeat Angie Smith and Andrew Hines. Arana scored his semifinal victory over Hines, the defending event champ, on a holeshot; his .013 light handily trumped Hines’ .065-launched 7.02 and gained him a measure of revenge for final-round losses to Hines’ Harley in Houston and Atlanta.
The Lucas Oil winners were Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster), Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Al Ackerman (Comp), Mike Walter (Super Stock), Ben Wenzel (Stock), Kyle Cultrera (Super Comp), Dan Northrop (Super Gas), and James Monroe (Top Dragster).
Veteran Pat Musi raced to his first NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory. Musi, who outran Troy Coughlin, Ed Hoover, and top qualifier Raymond Commisso in the first three rounds, defeated Brad Personett in the final . It was Musi’s first victory in NHRA competition since 1981, when the New Jersey driver won a Pro Stock Wally in Gainesville. Musi’s Dodge Stratus posted a 5.98, 239.44 to hold off Personett’s hard-charging ’68 Camaro, which trailed with a 5.99, 251.02.
Series points leader Von Smith, winner of three events this season, was upset in the first round by Rickie Smith. Von Smith leads Danny Rowe by 85 points with three races remaining in the 10-event series.
Friday: Dixon, Force Hood, Coughlin, Johnson lead Norwalk's opening-day fields
Saturday: Friday leaders hold onto No. 1 spots in Norwalk
Challenge: Anderson wins K&N Horsepower Challenge