Greg Anderson has accomplished a lot of things in his Pro Stock career, including four Mello Yello world championships, 93 event wins, and 103 No. 1 qualifying berths, but he enters eliminations at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals with a chance to do what no other driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has even done before.
Hot off of victories in Denver and Sonoma in the first two legs of NHRA’s famed Western Swing, Anderson could become the first Pro driver to sweep the Swing twice in his career. Only seven pro-class drivers in NHRA history have won all three Swing races in the same year and no one has done it more than once.*
"Winning the last two weeks in a row proves to me that I can still do this," said Anderson. "It's so much fun, and I've been reminded these last two weeks why I do it. It's just fantastic. I had a lot of luck in Sonoma, we didn't make any big mistakes, and I found my way to the winner's circle. Hopefully, we can do that again this week for the sweep."
According to statistician Dave Densmore, the publicist for Steve Torrence -– who lost his chance for a Swing sweep in Sonoma after winning in Denver -- the success rate for Western Swing sweeps (seven in 90 attempts) is poorer than that for horse racing’s Triple Crown (13 successes in 145 years).
Anderson first accomplished the multistate, multi-weekend hat trick during his amazing 2004 campaign in which he won a class-record 15 times in 24 events en route to the championship. After defeating Larry Morgan in the final in Denver, Anderson victimized one of his current crew chiefs, Dave Connolly, in back to back finals in Seattle and Sonoma (when the event order was different) to claim the coveted broom. Anderson remains the only Pro Stock driver to accomplish the task.
“I can remember the feeling of how cool it was like it was yesterday,” Anderson said. “You realize after years of trying to do it again just how difficult it is. It’s a tough deal. To do it twice, it would be pretty awesome, but I’m getting ahead of myself because it’s so dang hard to win these things anymore. Seattle is a cool place, but it’s definitely a tough place to win.
“I think it’s exciting and I don’t look at it as pressure,” Anderson said. “I’m definitely going to be excited to give it go, give it a try and it seems like our team is doing a good job. My car is a lot better and we’re finding ways to win we weren’t finding earlier in the year. We’ve definitely gotten better as a race team throughout the summer months, without a doubt.”
No driver in an NHRA pro class has swept all three Western Swing races in 10 years, since Top Fuel’s Antron Brown did it last in 2009, before he was even a member of Don Schumacher Racing.
Since 2004, Anderson hasn’t gotten close to repeating the feat, reaching two Swing finals only once since, in 2011, when he won the middle leg in Sonoma and was runner-up in Seattle. Only Allen Johnson, in 2012, has gotten close, winning in Denver and Sonoma in 2012 before losing to Erica Enders in the semifinals in Seattle.
Nine other Pro Stock drivers have won two of the three Swing events without completing the sweep. Bob Glidden won the first two events in 1989, as did Darrell Alderman in 1994, and Jim Yates in 1997. Vincent Nobile missed in Denver but won Sonoma and Seattle in 2013 as did Jason Line and Chris McGaha in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Kurt Johnson won the first and third in 2000 as did Drew Skillman in 2017. Warren Johnson also won the first and third in 1991 and the last two in 1998 after a runner-up in Denver.
Anderson enters raceday qualified No. 6 with a first-round meeting with Fernando Cuadra Jr., who uses KB power from the Summit camp.
"My Summit Racing Chevy Camaro is making real smooth runs, but I'm still trying to find a happy engine tune-up for this weekend," said Anderson. "I've missed so far, but I'm confident I'll get it Sunday. I'm excited about what could happen. It's a fun opportunity, and it brings a little extra drama to the race and to the class. It gets my heart started, and I need that. I'm good with the pressure."
Western Swing sweeps*
Joe Amato (1991, Top Fuel)
John Force (1994, Funny Car)
Cory McClenathan (1997, Top Fuel)
Larry Dixon (2003, Top Fuel)
Greg Anderson (2004, Pro Stock)
Tony Schumacher (2008, Top Fuel)
Antron Brown (2009, Top Fuel)
* While no Mello Yello-class driver has swept the Swing more than once. Sportsman-racing standout Dan Fletcher has. The New York-based racer, who owns 104 NHRA national event Wallys, won all three races in Super Stock in 1994 and all three again in 2013, winning in Super Stock in Denver and in Stock in Sonoma and Seattle.