Greg Anderson won $50,000 by racing to victory Saturday in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special bonus event for Pro Stock competitors at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Anderson used a quicker reaction at the start to upset the special event's top seed Mike Edwards. In a battle between Pontiac GXPs, Anderson crossed the finish line first in the final round with a 6.685 second run at 206.23 mph in his Summit Racing GXP before Edwards could catch him with his quicker performance of 6.677 at 207.11 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries machine.
It was Anderson's third victory in the bonus race for the eight best Pro Stock performers from the last year. If he can win tomorrow at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, he will pocket an additional $25,000 bonus from NHRA for sweeping both events, bringing his potential weekend payday to more than $100,000.
“We've had a great day today, and that gives me confidence for tomorrow,” said Anderson, who defeated Rodger Brogdon and Allen Johnson in the first two rounds of the Challenge. “I'm telling you that confidence is a huge part of this deal. I'm going to come out here tomorrow and think I can win tomorrow too and get that double-up bonus and finally win an NHRA national event this year. I think our season's going to change starting right now. I think this is the thing I'm going to look back on as what changed our season and what got us going finally.”
All of Friday's qualifying leaders remained atop their respective categories as Larry Dixon, Ashley Force Hood, Jeg Coughlin and Steve Johnson will lead their divisions into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Dixon's track record performance of 3.780 at 320.43 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster gave him his fourth No. 1 position of the season and 44th of his career in Top Fuel. He will face Troy Buff in the first round.
“It's nice to be no. 1 qualifier out here, and that's all about hitting it right on Friday night,” Dixon said. “The Friday night session is something like a long ball contest in golf. We made it stick, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other good cars going in to eliminations tomorrow; we'll have to be able to putt when we need to.”
Also in Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan clinched his position in the Countdown to 1 by qualifying for the event. McClenathan qualified sixth with a 3.887 at 313.73 in his FRAM dragster to join Dixon and Tony Schumacher as the only three Top Fuel drivers to secure their spots in NHRA's championship playoffs.
Force Hood took the third No. 1 spot of the season and 12th of her career in Funny Car with her track record time of 4.032 at 311.99 in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Rain showers ended the final Funny Car qualifying session early as only seven of the 17 cars in that category were able to run before NHRA officials were forced to end racing for the day due to the weather. Force Hood will race her father John Force in the opening round.
“I just have a really good running car,” Force Hood said. “We have had it all weekend long and we are excited to be going into race day feeling this confident. The car doesn't know who is in the other lane whether it is dad, my brother-in-law, my best friend or someone you don't like. It just doesn't know the difference. That is how we race and especially when we race my dad. He talks so much and he is so involved and I have a very different style than him. I do my own thing. I do think he tries to mess with me. I don't think he does it on purpose but he is constantly talking about everything to do with the runs. I want to tell him, ‘Dad you just do your thing you have been doing it for over 30 years. I'll do my thing.' Whoever has the best car will go on to the next round and most importantly whoever wins should go out and win the race.
Coughlin earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 17th of his career in Pro Stock, with his Friday performance of 6.592 at 208.97 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt.
“It's exciting to qualify No. 1 at any event, and in my career, there's not been too too many No. 1 qualifying efforts but we've had great success,” said Coughlin, who will meet Justin Humphreys in the first round. “We'll certainly take this No. 1 effort as it is. It's a good effort.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Johnson claimed his first No. 1 qualifying position in more than 15 years and second of his career. He sat out Saturday's two sessions and no one was able to improve over his track record performance from Friday of 6.929 at 193.60 on his Steve Johnson Racing Suzuki.
“We sat out because we were No. 1 qualifier and we have a budge to deal with and we want to save parts,” said Johnson, whose first round opponent is Wesley Wells. “We've got a Vance & Hines engine that's extremely strong. It's a great engine, the best you can buy, but at the end of the day, we've only got one of them. The big focus now with the Full Throttle Series is just getting in the Countdown [to 1]. The reality for me is we're No. 1 and this is so cool for our team.”