Greg Anderson raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock Saturday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals with a track record performance of 6.571 seconds at 210.11 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
With the qualifying effort Anderson became the fourth driver in his category to secure a position in the Countdown to 1, NHRA's playoffs. It was his fourth No. 1 of the season, 73rd of his career and his sixth at Infineon Raceway.
"This is the biggest day I've had this year," said three-time world champ Anderson, who is still winless this season. "I don't know if anyone has noticed but I haven't had a lot of bright spots lately. If we can put this Summit Pontiac through four rounds tomorrow it will change the whole season for me. I just needed a few good things to happen to get my confidence back. I'm a bit of a pessimist and I thought that Mike [Edwards] could possibly have run better than us, but he missed it a little and we got the pole. I think we have a great chance of going the distance tomorrow. [Teammate] Jason [Line] is qualified second so we have the deck stacked just the way we want it; we can't race until the final. I feel better than I have all year so we'll see what happens tomorrow."
Allen Johnson, who qualified third in his J&J Racing Team Mopar Dodge Stratus, also solidified his spot in the Countdown to 1.
J.R. Todd, Matt Hagan and Eddie Krawiec also will lead their categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised on ESPN2 HD and ESPN2 (9:30 p.m. ET).
Todd claimed his first No. 1 in Top Fuel this season and the third of his career, with his 3.811 at 312.06 performance from Friday in his Mach 1 dragster.
"We were working on our race day set up today and we didn't make it down the track so we know what won't work," Todd said. "The track is obviously good out here and hopefully we can put four good runs together on Sunday. My goal every week is just to get the thing in the show and make good clean runs. I've only run three events this year so [qualifying No. 1] is a bit of a surprise for me. There is no better place to start from than the No. 1 spot and I'm expecting to go rounds on Sunday."
Antron Brown qualified fourth in his Matco Tools dragster and will face Troy Buff in the opening round as he attempts to become the seventh pro driver in NHRA history to sweep the Western Swing.
In Funny Car, Hagan's run from Friday also stood as the quickest, as he claimed his first career No. 1 qualifying position with a 4.068 at 307.51 in his Shelor.com Dodge Charger.
The top qualifying effort came at a good time for Hagan, who will face top 10 points challenger Cruz Pedregon in a critical first round meeting tomorrow, and is also competing against three other drivers from other categories (Doug Horne, Shawn Langdon and Spencer Massey) for top rookie honors in the ultra-competitive $20,000 Auto Club Road to the Future Award.
"This is huge right now," said Hagan, who entered this event seven points ahead of the 11th place defending world champ Pedregon. "I'm not so much warred about the rookie of the year deal as I am trying to get into the [Countdown to 1]. This is a big stepping stone in my career and it's good for my whole team. My crew guys all had big smiles this morning. We wanted to go down the track today and we did that on all four laps. With all the changes in the weather, we got to see how smart these crew chiefs are. To watch them work is pretty amazing. The [first-round] match with Cruz is make or break. If we can win that round and go a couple more, it will put us in a good position for the Countdown."
By qualifying for this event, Ashley Force Hood and Tony Pedregon joined Ron Capps in the Countdown to 1 Funny Car starting lineup. Force Hood was third overall, while Pedregon was 10th. Series points leader Capps will start in the 14th position in his NAPA Auto Parts Charger.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec claimed his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season by running 6.915 at 192.99 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
"This is my first No. 1 of the season and I'm pretty excited about it," said Krawiec. "A lot of people made great runs. Matt Smith showed that a Suzuki could run with everybody and it's too bad Hector [Arana] broke because he was probably going to run really fast as well. When I saw Matt's 6.91, I was figuring that I'd be second or third but maybe we underestimated the tail wind. I also think I made a nice clean straight run and that was the difference."