Anderson Driving for Five in Englishtown After a weekend off to observe Memorial Day, the world’s best quarter-milers return to action this weekend with the NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., the eighth stop on the 2011 Full Throttle Drag Racing schedule. Held at venerable Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, it is one of defending Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson and his Summit Racing team’s favorites for a variety of reasons.
For starters, the naturally-aspirated “factory hot rods” are among the knowledgeable Garden State fans’ favorites, as conditions often allow for some of the quickest runs of the year. In addition, with legends Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, “Dyno Don” Nicholson, Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson among those gracing its winner’s circle over the last forty years, a Raceway Park Wally is among the most cherished in the sport. Finally, it has been the site of great success by Anderson and his KB Racing crew, with their four wins tied for the most in Pro Stock history, a pattern they hope to continue this weekend.
“Englishtown is one of the races we always look forward to because the fans are so keen on Pro Stock,” said Anderson. “Whenever we’re out west, the people tend to favor the fuel classes, but here on the East Coast, Pro Stockers know we can count on tremendous support from the crowd, which makes it fun going there.
“We also love racing in E-town at this time of year because the weather’s usually pretty good, with a big barometer that’s not far from sea level, which translates into our running very fast. It’s a good racetrack that’s very smooth and will hold whatever you want to give it, which may be one of the reasons this Summit Racing team has won so many races there over the years. Historically, we’ve done well when we’ve been able to showcase our power, and Raceway Park certainly allows us that opportunity. Hopefully, we’ll be able to take advantage of it again this weekend.”
As the only one of the NHRA’s four professional categories using only naturally-aspirated engines, the Pro Stock Cars are the ones most affected by atmospheric changes, putting a premium on finding the proper set-up in the warmer temperatures where horsepower is reduced. Although still in the process of learning their current car’s performance envelope, KB Racing crew chiefs Rob Downing, Tommy Utt and Jeff Perley have pooled their vast experience and come up with workable solutions for race day that have allowed them to remain in the thick of the championship points battle. However, in order to add another victory to their Raceway Park resume, Anderson knows the team will need to get a better handle on their race car.
“Although we have yet to get the performance out of the car that we need, we’ve been making good decisions on race day and gotten a few breaks, somehow finding a way to get round wins,” said Anderson. “Therefore, if we can find a way to get the car to perform, I think we would get on a heck of a roll and potentially win a lot of races.
“We know that no two race cars are alike. There are just too many variables, and if one is off, you end up with a completely different package. We try to run our cars are closely as possible when it comes to the set-up, but sometimes it comes down to finding a happy medium, so we’ll just keep digging until we come up with an answer.
“We’re also still learning this particular Summit Racing Pontiac. When we first brought it out earlier this year, we were running on cooler tracks under favorable conditions, and we had it working really well. Now that we’ve gotten to the warmer temperatures, hot slick tracks and a little altitude where we don’t make as much power, it’s lost its home and we just have to find it a new one for these conditions.”
Having achieved so much with a dialed in race car, should the KB crew achieve their goal and find the proper set-up, Anderson is confident they could accomplish even more. In addition, there could be benefits beyond the vehicle’s performance which would contribute to improved results.
“Having a fast race car is a tremendous confidence booster for the driver, as well as the entire team,” said Anderson. “We need to get back to that. Since we’re racing better than we have in years, if we get that performance up, I believe we’d be really hard to handle. The one thing that keeps everyone motivated is that we have two cars in our stable that are running really well.
“Overall, I’m happy with the team’s performance, and our race day decisions. I know it’s just a matter of finding what my car wants, so we can have three Summit Pontiacs that are capable of winning any race we go to, which is all we can ask. Hopefully, we’ll put all the pieces of the puzzle together this weekend in Englishtown, so we can put on a great show for our fans.”