NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


Greg Anderson's late season push is keeping the veteran racer's drive alive

The regular season was unfulfilling for five-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson, but he came alive during the Countdown to the Championship and earned the No. 2 decal for his window. A near-miss of another series title has the most winning driver in category history eager to get back to it.
13 Dec 2023
Kelly Wade
Greg Anderson

The regular season in 2023 was somewhat unfulfilling for five-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson, but he came alive during the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. In the end, Anderson earned the No. 2 decal for his window for the second consecutive season – and that has the most winning driver in category history eager to get back to it. 

After a semifinals performance to start the year in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, Anderson was off-kilter with first- or second-round losses until Bristol, when he raced to the semifinals. With a race car that sometimes hit the right notes but wasn't always quite on task, Anderson struggled through summer until Topeka, when he qualified No. 2 and had a hot rod that took him all the way to the final for the first time since winning the season closer in 2022. The next race – Brainerd – brought Anderson his first low-qualifier award of the season and a sense of hope that the strength his race car showed in Topeka was not a fluke. 

"Hopefully, we turned the corner," said Anderson before Brainerd's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. "But what's important to me is to get a win – I don't want to get to the playoffs without a win." 

That's exactly what happened, though, after the Minnesota native bowed out in round two at the racetrack where he grew up, then went to the NHRA U.S. Nationals and watched his worst race of the season unfold on the very grounds where he had claimed the milestone 100th win of his career the year before. The Indy outing was a dismal and disheartening ending to the regular season for Anderson, and his spirit was not buoyed when he was ousted in round one of the first race of the Countdown to the Championship. He was No. 8 in the standings with only five races to make up ground, and rival Erica Enders was on a freight train of rejuvenation after her own rough start to the year.

"I just couldn't seem to get all the round pegs in the round holes," said Anderson. "But [after Reading], things started to come together. I knew it was a longshot for the championship at that point, but I was doing a better job of driving, the race car got faster, the engines got better, and I felt I had a solid chance." 

Starting from the No. 5 position, Anderson claimed victory over a trio of Elite Motorsports drivers on Sunday at zMAX Dragway, including Jerry Tucker, Cristian Cuadra, and Enders to reach the final round. There, he defeated KB Titan Racing teammate Dallas Glenn and bumped all the way up from eighth to fourth in the Pro Stock points. 

That set the tone for St. Louis, where Anderson logged another productive qualifying effort to start fourth in the line-up and log round-wins over Tucker, Deric Kramer, and Enders before squaring off with Aaron Stanfield in the final. Stanfield, son of Pro Stock veteran and Sportsman champion Greg Stanfield, came well-prepared with his Elite-powered Janac Brothers Chevrolet, but Anderson was leaving nothing to chance. He launched first by .007-second, .021 to .028, and kept ahead to win on a 6.552 to 6.567. 

"I was back in the game," recalled Anderson. "I legitimately had a shot at the championship with three races to go, and that's all you could ask for at that point. I started the Countdown knocking on the door of knocking myself out, and I knew if I didn't have a big recovery at the next race, I was out of it. Winning Charlotte and St. Louis, that set up the last three races to be a bare-knuckled brawl. You couldn't have guessed who would win it at that point, there were just too many great drivers and great cars, and I felt great to be part of it."

Another No. 1 in Dallas fueled the optimism, but losing in the second round, while Enders went on to win the event and pad her lead, made Las Vegas nearly a do-or-die situation for Anderson. Qualifying mid-pack put a question mark over Sunday's potential outcome, but he came into the day with fiery determination that sent Stanfield, Kyle Koretsky, and Matt Hartford packing. On the other side of the ladder, though, Enders was also charging through eliminations at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Anderson was gathering points, but so was the points leader. 

Ultimately, they met in the final round, and Enders won. Although he was 114 marks back and still had a mathematical chance at the title with points and a half in Pomona, Anderson needed two things to happen: He needed the points leader to falter and for his own performance to be perfect at the last race of the season.

The NHRA Finals started on a strong note for Anderson as he claimed a bushel of bonus points en route to his third pole of the year, but at that point, all Enders had to do was win the first round, and her defeat of Fernando Cuadra closed the deal on her sixth Pro Stock title. Anderson shifted his hope to winning the race with a hot rod clearly capable of getting it done, but an uncharacteristic red-light (-.011) in the semifinals was the end to his season. 

"You get one shot at it when you go up there, and you have to get it perfect every time. I'm human, and I didn't get it perfect," said Anderson. "But it felt great to have the best race car I had all year, and I was just sorry we were out of races. There were certainly a lot of positives to focus on this year, not just for me but for the whole KB Titan Racing team."

In all, Anderson's KB Titan Racing team won 11 of 18 races in 2023: regular season winner Glenn claimed four trophies in nine final rounds, Camrie Caruso earned a career-first victory in Phoenix, Hartford – who led the points after winning Indy and Reading back-to-back and reached the final at the season-closer – won three times in five finals, and Deric Kramer raced to the win at the spring event in Charlotte. Koretsky reached two final rounds and was the No. 1 qualifier in Las Vegas. The team, which was originally put together as KB Racing with Ken Black over two decades ago but came under new ownership ahead of the 2023 season, earned the pole at 11 of the 18 Pro Stock events. 

"We really jelled in our first year together [under new ownership], and we absolutely brought the program forward," said Anderson. "I'm very proud of the job that all of our KB Titan drivers and crew did for this team this year. We won a lot of races, it was a success, and we can build off of it and be even better next year."