Congratulations to Greg Anderson for chalking up his 50th win, and welcome to this week’s cover of National DRAGSTER (not yet available for viewing; here's a happy Greg and Kim in the winner's circle instead). I like it when the cover choice is this easy, though it doesn’t happen anywhere as near as much as my ulcer doctor would like. Okay, I don’t really have an ulcer doctor (or ulcers), but if I did, he’d hate Tuesdays.
Putting someone on the cover who has reached the 50-win milestone is a no-brainer, because it’s a pretty exclusive club. Anderson is just the 10th to reach that plateau, having been preceded by Bob Glidden (who got there first), John Force, Warren Johnson, Pat Austin, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Amato, David Rampy, Frank Manzo, and Bob Newberry.
My memory is not long enough nor are there enough hours in my day to verify that each of the above made the cover on the occasion of their 50th -- I know Glidden did, because he was the first, and I know that Manzo and Rampy did, but only because they aren’t outside the scope of a memory that’s fading faster than a dropped-cylinder nitro engine -- but I also know that Bob Newberry, the most recent before Anderson, did not, because he had the misfortune of winning on the first of back-to-back weekends of racing, meaning that there was no “Sportsman cover”; Newberry won in Topeka, and Englishtown was the next weekend, and Larry Dixon went on the cover for winning Top Fuel in E-town. I’m not sure when the rule was instituted that assured Pro winners a cover at the expense of a Sportsman winner, but I think that on occasions such as Newberry’s I ought to change it.
Sorry, Bob. But here’s what it might have looked like, as envisioned by my so-so Photoshop skills.
Of course, G.A. still has a long way to go to catch Glidden’s 85 wins let alone W.J.’s 96 to become the king of all Pro Stock winners, but it’s doubtful that he -- or anyone -- will ever supplant Glidden as Mr. Pro Stock (then again, there was a time when people thought no one would replace Bill Jenkins as Pro Stock’s icon; some still do -- talk among yourselves).
The win in Sonoma was Anderson’s seventh of the season, and he’ll be making his second ND cover appearance of the season in a mailbox near you. He last was on the cover after his dominating 45th win in Gainesville earlier this season. Seeing as how Tony Schumacher was on the cover after winning in Norwalk and John Force graced the cover of the Bristol issue, this truly was Anderson’s turn.
As crazy is it sounds, the cover of ND is always on my mind as the Pro finalists pull to the starting line. As the categories progress from Pro Stock Motorcycle to Top Fuel, the vote going on in my head shifts back and forth, factoring in things such as recent cover appearances, first wins, historic occasions, and the deservedness factor based on how the winner won.
Going into the finals, Anderson was my first choice if he won, but with two potential first-time winners in the running, it wasn’t set in stone.
When the Pro Stock Motorcycle finalists pulled to the Tree in Sonoma, either would make a good cover, but even though Matt Smith hasn’t been on a cover this year despite two previous wins, I was still thinking Anderson. But if Smith won and Anderson didn’t, I was would lean toward Smith. Had first-time finalist Eddie Krawiec beaten Smith and Anderson beaten Jason Line, I would have been presented with my first quandary, but Krawiec didn’t win. Anderson then solidified his place in my internal vote when he beat Line.
With Force having been on the Bristol cover, I knew he wouldn’t be on this one if he won, but what about Del Worsham? The poor guy’s been winless for almost two years and been through some tough times. If he won, would he push Anderson aside? I fretted some more. But when “Big John” lowered the boom on the bearded boy wonder, it all came down to Bob Vandergriff Jr. versus Schumacher. If Bobby V. won, how could I not put him on the cover? In addition to him being a real swell guy, this was his 10th final without a win to his credit. Surely he would be the cover choice and surely Anderson would understand, right?
But, of course, Schumacher defeated "Vandy" and sealed the deal for Anderson and for me. Aren’t you glad you asked?