For centuries, people have believed that mountain air is therapeutic and after winning his fourth Pro Stock title at the Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Greg Anderson is inclined to agree. Anderson won his third Denver title last season, and the Summit drive had been winless until he stopped Matt Hartford in the final round. In a typically close Pro Stock final, both drivers left together and Anderson inched ahead at the finish line to win with a 6.950, bettering Hartford’s 6.965.
Anderson has now won 92 NHRA Pro Stock titles in his career in 154 final rounds including a perfect 4-0 record in finals at scenic Bandimere Speedway. Anderson also maintains a perfect 10-0 record in elimination rounds against Hartford.
“This feels good; its’ been so long that I’ll admit that you might have a doubt or two,” said Anderson. “This class is just tough and in some ways we’re our own worst enemy because we supply power to five or six other guys out here who can also win races. I’m also not getting any younger, but I’m proud and we had a great day. I love racing up here at the Mile-Hight Nationals. It’s usually the best car I have each year. I felt that way last year when I won, and I felt that way again this year.
“My car was flawless all day long and the driver didn’t screw it up,” Anderson said. “The final was a good race that was decided by a hundredth of a second. It’s hard, but you just go out and do the best job you can. Fortunately, my [clutch] foot came up at the right time and I got the win light. In the semi’s it was decided by thousandths of a second but that’s Pro Stock. As far as the Swing, I guess it’s true that you can’t win all of them unless you win the first one so we’ve got that going for us but there is still a long way to go.”
Anderson’s hopes for a win appeared to diminish when he didn’t make a clean run during Saturday’s prime qualifying session under the lights. He finished as the No. 9 qualifier, and faced a tough battle in round one against Fernando Cuadra, who also races under the KB Racing banner. Anderson defeated Cuadra with a 6.950 and then went on to stop low qualifier Richard Freeman, and local Denver favorite Deric Kramer to reach the final round.
With the win, Anderson not only regained his confidence, but also scored enough points to move past Alex Laughlin and into second place in the Mello Yello standings. Anderson now trails only teammate Bo Butner in his quest for a fifth world title.
Hartford, in a position to pursue the championship for the first time in his career, is making the most of it. The former Sport Compact series champion is still seeking his first win of the season but he’s moved to fourth place in the standings and he’s just 23-points out of second. Hartford’s Total Seal Camaro uses engines from the Elite team and it’s tuned by veteran crew chief Eddie Guaranaccia. The No. 3 qualifier, Hartford took out Alex Laughlin, Val Smeland, and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. to reach the final. Whatever concerns Hartford may have had about his reaction times was answered when he beat Coughlin on a holeshot with a .018 reaction time and a 6.977.