Since returning to the driver’s seat six races ago following heart surgery in February, four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson has seen steady improvement out of his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. But Anderson will be only pleased if improvement leads to victories and in that regard Anderson remains unsatisfied.
Anderson has advanced to two final rounds since his return, but he has not been able to take the final step. Anderson is ready for that breakthrough after a winless streak has stretched more than two years and 44 total races, and an ideal time would be the upcoming 8th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, which takes place July 3-6 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, a popular dragstrip owned by the Bader family that sits just west of Cleveland.
Currently 11th in Pro Stock points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, a victory would also do wonders in boosting his chances for qualifying for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
“We’re definitely getting there, but we’re not where we need to be,” Anderson said. “We’re progressing and we’re finding a way to go rounds against some extremely tough competition. There has absolutely never been a year like this before. It’s a much tougher challenge to crack into the top 10. We have to get back to winning races. To get into the Countdown you have to be able to win and that’s the way it should be.”
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2. It is the 13th of 24 events during the 2014 NHRA season and nobody has to explain to Anderson the importance of doing well in Norwalk.
He has two previous victories at the facility and with Summit Racing Equipment’s headquarters also being an hour away Anderson has always understood the magnitude of this race.
“It’s definitely the biggest and the most important of the Summit-sponsored races,” Anderson said. “This race means a lot to them and it obviously means a lot to us. You better do your best to impress them and we need to have a big weekend. There’s definitely extra importance on this race. But we like that extra pressure and this is a special event all the way around.”
A victory would make it that much sweeter and Anderson appears to be closing in on that. He advanced to the semifinals two weeks ago in Epping, N.H. before falling to eventual winner Dave Connolly and posted runner-up finishes in Atlanta and Englishtown.
The next step is getting more performance out of his Camaro. Anderson showed potential in Epping, qualifying seventh with a performance of 6.512 seconds at 213.10 mph, marking his best qualifying position this season.
“Right now we’re a couple hundredths behind and in this class right now that’s usually not going to get it done,” Anderson said. “We need a little more performance and that’s what it takes to get race wins. You’re not going to get lucky for four straight rounds. Everything has to be perfect or you’re not going to win races.”
The loaded Pro Stock field is headed by points leader Erica Enders-Stevens, who has three wins in 2014. Chicago champ Vincent Nobile will be after his third win in Norwalk, while Anderson will also be challenged by the likes of reigning world champ Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson, Shane Gray, Connolly, Jason Line, Jonathan Gray, and V Gaines.
Anderson has also dealt with a nearly non-stop schedule since returning and Norwalk will mark the fourth consecutive race weekend during a rigorous summer stretch. A week off follows that race before the Western Swing, which finishes off a stretch of 10 races in 12 weeks. Currently 25 points out of 10th place, Anderson simply sees it as an opportunity to make up ground.
“As racers you want to race as much as you can,” Anderson said. “The more races the better as far as I’m concerned. I can’t wait to get back at it and I really like these stretches. The more we race the better we can be.”
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, July 4, with sessions at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, July 5, at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 6.
To purchase general-admission, reserved seats and take advantage of the free general admission tickets for children 12 and under, call Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park at 419-668-5555 or visit www.summitmotorsportspark.com.