“Just because the gains are going to be small doesn’t mean you stop looking for them,” said Greg Anderson, succinctly summarizing Pro Stock in 2019.
The former world champ remains one of the most competitive racers in NHRA but comes off one of the most disappointing seasons in his career. He drove an incredible car, but his own performance inside of it resulted in far too few wins for his liking. K.B. Racing as a whole performed fine, but fine doesn’t quite cut it.
"I did a lot of work on myself," Anderson said. "We were not happy with our performance last season, particularly during the playoffs, and we want to contend for that championship again. You gotta be able to roll with the frustrations, that’s just what Pro Stock racing is these days. We’re frustrated and hungry."
Tanner Gray proved a nemesis for everyone in Pro Stock and then left the party before anyone got the chance to get revenge. K.B. Racing hired Gray’s former crew chief, Dave Connolly, to help out racer/crew chief Jason Line and Rob Downing tune the ever-growing team of Anderson, Line, Deric Kramer, Bo Butner, and Fernando Cuadra.
“Both Jason and Rob are spread way too thin, and that’s 100 percent of the reason that we brought someone of Dave’s caliber in, to help lighten the load,” said Anderson. “There were only a few people we thought could fit that bill. I raced against Dave for a lot of years, and he’s done it all, a lot like myself, Jason, and Rob. He knows the car from inside and outside, and that’s why we wanted him. It took three months of negotiating to get him, and we’re glad we did.”
Connolly drove Top Fuel and Pro Stock before working for Gray Motorsports. He earned a championship with Gray in 2018 and will attempt to get a second with K.B. Racing, in the process bringing the team back to the glory it achieved in 2016 and 2017 with Line and Butner. The team will have its hands full as Elite Motorsports looks resurgent and the number of full-time competitors increased.
“Most seasons, we don’t think it’s that important we start at our peak, but it’s not really like that right now,” Anderson said. “If you get off to a bad start and dig a hole, there’s a chance you might not make the playoffs. There are 12 or 14 cars that could qualify for the playoffs and someone is going to get left out. That just increases the tension.”
The Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com offers hope, like the start of any season, but it does bring tension many sports don’t. Is the car set up correctly? Did those offseason tweaks work? What about those new parts? Did testing actually teach us anything? Every time a car runs away from White Avenue in Pomona, a crew chief and driver exhale.