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Flawless: The eight most impressive victories of 2022 (Part 2, Pro Stock)

In part two of our look back the the best final-round performances of 2022, NHRA's Brian Lohnes takes a look at the Pro Stock class and two dynamic performances that helped define the season.
06 Jan 2023
Brian Lohnes, NHRA on FOX announcer
Greg Anderson

In part one of this series, we took a look at the two most flawless Pro Stock Motorcycle victories of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Naturally, we now turn our attention to Pro Stock and look at the two wins which best represented near perfection. As we previously noted, when fans look back in 20 years, they’ll see what driver won a particular race, but the story within the story is what really spins our crank as hardcore geeks for this sport.

You should not be surprised by the two racers we chose here, but the races themselves may raise one or both of your eyebrows.

Runner-up: Erica Enders – Sonoma

Literally 99% of this weekend was akin to perfection for the Elite Motorsports team, and we’ll get to that minor blemish in a moment.

Sonoma Raceway is not a track that plays chess with racers of the NHRA. It is a fine surface that presents atmospheric conditions that are nearly unrivaled on the tour year in and year out. All of this adds up to the simple fact that Sonoma always has been and always will be a raw horsepower race. This is doubly true in Pro Stock, where the engines have to operate without the addition of a power adder. Every team on the grounds loads the best engine they have in the trailer for this event, and from the jump, it was clear that Erica Enders was commanding the pride of the fleet.

Enders qualified No. 1 with a very stout 6.506, pacing the field by more than a hundredth of a second and setting the tone for what looked like it was going to be a smashing race day.

On Sunday, the juicy conditions of Sonoma were set to deliver again. Her first-round 6.517 led the field. In the second round, she was second quickest on the property with a victorious 6.540 (three thousandths behind teammate Aaron Stanfield).

In the semifinals, Enders was once again low for the round, beating Stanfield with a 6.527. This would set up a classic final round against Greg Anderson, and it is here we pause to justify our decision.

In the final, Enders went .018 on the Tree to Anderson’s .049. She was out pacing him down the track on the strength of that reaction time, and the car was as incrementally as quick as it had been all day. And then at about 1,000-feet into the run, her car stopped accelerating. Anderson’s Camaro kept on motoring, but he ran out of racetrack. Enders’ 6.574 managed to beat Anderson’s quicker 6.565 because of her holeshot advantage. She won the race by seven feet, and the speed numbers really tell the story. Enders’ coasting 196.62 to Anderson’s roaring 208.01. That’s not something you see every day.

So, how does this count as a flawless victory? Qualifying No. 1, being low of the first and third rounds, while nearly being low of all three, and then winning on a holeshot because the driver was not relaxing on the performance laurels of her engine add up to a flawless team race day in our book. Each element of the operation carried their weight after a disappointing early-round loss in Denver.

But let’s not forget about the guy in the other lane. And how could we? He racked up his 100th win at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals and did it without a hair out of place.

Erica Enders' 2022 average qualifying position:                     2.58
Erica Enders' NHRA Sonoma Nationals qualifying position: 1

Erica Enders' 2022 average mph in eliminations:                       203.94
Erica Enders' NHRA Sonoma Nationals mph in eliminations:   207.72

Winner: Greg Anderson – Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals

If you are a fan of movies, especially those in the sports genre, you’ve surely seen The Natural, where Robert Redford portrays the fictional Roy Hobbs. The film is great, and just when you think that the heroic character is on the ropes, he recalls his glory and delivers in the film’s most iconic moment.

Well, after being stuck at 99 career victories for most of the season, after being used up on the starting line over the course of the year and losing in the only two finals he had made before Indy, few of the drag racing intelligentsia had Anderson scribbled in for another Indy win. And then, he went straight-up Roy Hobbs on the field.

Anderson qualified first (for the third race in a row) with a 6.623, and while it certainly reinforced the fact that his car had power, it was still in question whether or not he had the gusto to carry it through on Monday. Boy, did he ever.

Anderson opened eliminations by going low for the round with a 6.595, in the process he went .015 on the Tree. After defeating Fernado Cuadra Sr., he moved on to Troy Coughlin Jr., who had defeated him in the Topeka final. While Coughlin won the starting line contest, Anderson’s Camaro went 6.593, handily winning and, once again, was quick for the round.

In the semifinals, Anderson dialed up a .019 reaction time against Fernando Cuadra Jr. and went a 6.608, which was also, you guessed it, low for the round. In the final, KB teammate Dallas Glenn went -.002 red, Anderson went a 6.587, low elapsed time for any Pro Stocker on race day, and he claimed his long-awaited 100th victory.

Why was this the most flawless win of the year in Pro Stock? He had his best average reaction time race, was No. 1 qualifier, and was low elapsed time of every single round. By all means, find some bones to pick with that!

Greg Anderson' season average reaction time:                              .037
Greg Anderson' U.S. Nationals race day average reaction time:   .032

Greg Anderson' season average e.t.:                           6.662
Greg Anderson' US Nationals race day average e.t.:  6.575

Agree or disagree on the level of perfection in these two victories, but that’s the fun here. There are so many factors that can be included in an evaluation like this. Next up, we’ll tackle Funny Car and, incredibly, the most wild, unpredictable, hard-to-handle machines in the world of drag racing will have us splitting hairs with a micrometer to determine who gets the honors.