CONCORD, NC – April 20, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – It was not the start four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson expected, but it is one he will gladly take.
There were vast changes in Pro Stock heading into the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the veteran Anderson admitted to at least some trepidation for his KB Racing Summit Racing Equipment team.
But while Anderson’s Chevrolet Camaro looks much different, with the new look cars featuring fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter, the early results have been very much the same.
Anderson already has two wins this season – longtime teammate Jason Line has the other two – and he will look to make it three at this weekend’s seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods at zMAX Dragway. A two-time winner at the unique race, Anderson can also become the first three-time winner at the one-of-a-kind event.
It’s not the only noteworthy achievement on the line this weekend, either. By qualifying for Sunday’s eliminations, Anderson will move past the legendary Warren Johnson for the longest career qualifying streak in Pro Stock with 304 straight races, which would put him second in NHRA history behind only John Force’s 395 consecutive qualifying streak from 1988-2007.
“We’re way, way, way pleasantly surprised and not just the fact that we got to Pomona and had a slight edge, but that we’ve been able to hang onto it for four races,” Anderson said. “When you shake up the deck like that someone is going to come out with an advantage. We feel very fortunate and lucky for that, and when we’ve had the performance advantage we have parlayed it into race wins. That has been really important.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (PSM) were last year’s winners of the distinctive event. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with qualifying highlights on April 23 at 10 p.m. and finals coverage on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. The event is the fifth of 24 races during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the KB Racing team of Anderson, Line and Bo Butner has had the clear advantage thus far. Line is first in points, Anderson is second and Butner is third, and they have combined to claim the top three spots in qualifying at each race.
As impressive as that has been, Anderson, who has 80 career wins, knows it took a tremendous amount of work in the off-season to get there. He also knows the advantage won’t last forever in a Pro Stock class loaded with talent.
“When we first started we were so far off,” Anderson said of the changes. “We did a lot of different things and tried a lot of different parts. We have a complete room full of parts that didn’t work out. We made some big gains but we had to. It’s a progressive deal and there are a lot of gains still to be made. I still feel like we’re just scratching the surface and the landscape in the class will look a lot different in a month. We know we have to keep going forward and we know there’s a lot left to be learned.”
The challenges at the Four-Wide Nationals are completely unique, but Anderson has been able to master it, winning the event in 2011 and 2012, and advancing to the final group of four in two other years. Anderson has also taken advantage of some of the unique nuances of the race, such as advancing in eliminations even when he when he didn’t cross the finish line first.
In fact, Anderson is one of only two drivers (Robert Hight being the other) to have won the four-wide event with second-place finishes in the first two rounds, only finishing first in the final round.
“I can remember losing twice before I won and it’s just a crazy scenario,” Anderson said. “You get two runner-ups and then a win. You almost feel a little guilty that you’re moving on. The whole deal is so different and as a driver, it completely blows your mind. It’s such a challenge and so different. You have three cars that can whip you and no round is easy.”
But those moments at the KB Racing team’s home track have brought out the best in Anderson, and he will have to rise to the occasion once more this weekend.
Along with dealing with teammates Line and Butner, Anderson will have to ward off the likes of two-time defending world champion Erica Enders, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., Drew Skillman, Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and Alex Laughlin. But as long as his Camaro continues to perform at the level it has all season, Anderson knows he will be a threat to win at every event.
“I think the confidence has been key, just knowing that every time you go up there you’re going to have a great car,” Anderson said. “I’m the guy that loves to have that confidence of knowing my car is going to be great and I just have to do my job. To be able to race more relaxed and not have to do anything I’m not comfortable with, it seems to work best for me.”
Reigning Top Fuel world champion Brown, who won the most recent race in Las Vegas, will be looking for his third consecutive victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. J.R. Todd, who set the 3.713-second track record at the race last year, season-opening Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, recent first-time winners Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican are among the top contenders for the Wally trophy.
In Funny Car, Beckman ended his 54-race winless streak in Funny Car with his victory last year. The victory provided the momentum he needed to earn seven wins in the season and finish runner-up behind Del Worsham. Winternationals winner Ron Capps, two-time Four-Wide Nationals winner and current points leader Hight, Courtney Force, John Force, Tim Wilkerson and Alexis DeJoria, who won in Las Vegas, will try to prevent Beckman from a second straight victory.
The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is the second stop on the Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule. Hines, who won the event last year by outrunning three-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, went on to claim the 2015 series title. Krawiec comes in as the points leader after winning the Gatornationals and will face off against the likes of Hector Arana Jr., who was the No. 1 qualifier and also set both ends of the track record at last year’s Four-Wide Nationals, Hector Arana Sr. and two-time world champion Matt Smith.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
The 2015 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23, at 2 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 24.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals starting at $107.
Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: zMAX Dragway – Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 22-24
COURSE: All-concrete four-wide championship dragstrip at an elevation of 630 feet. Track direction is southwest to northeast.
FORMAT: Qualifying sessions and elimination rounds will be conducted using four lanes in all Mello Yello Series classes; Lanes will be identified from left to right facing downtrack as 1-4; The standard Friday qualifying procedure of a top 12 format will not be in use; Two Christmas trees will be in use, one between each two lanes; The Compulink Autostart system will continue to be utilized and it will not activate until all four vehicles are pre-staged and one vehicle has staged; The ladder structure will feature Race A: qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16, Race B: qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13, Race C: qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15, and Race D: qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14; Race A and Race B will be on one side of the ladder, while Race C and Race D will be on the other; Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on; The first two drivers in each elimination round to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.
FRIDAY, April 22 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:30 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
Saturday, April 23, Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, April 24, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 2, TF; Spencer Massey, 2, TF; Jack Beckman, 2, FC; Robert Hight, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Andrew Hines, 2, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.713 sec. by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.
Funny Car – 3.971 sec. by Tommy Johnson Jr., Sept. ’15; 322.27 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. by Jack Beckman, March ‘16, Gainesville, Fla.; 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 455-FANS. Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA Point standings following the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Brittany Force, 307; 2. Antron Brown, 269; 3. Doug Kalitta, 267; 4. Steve Torrence, 249; 5. Clay Millican, 242; 6. J.R. Todd, 229; 7. Dave Connolly, 217; 8. Terry McMillen, 209; 9. Tony Schumacher, 190; 10. Leah Pritchett, 188.
1. Robert Hight, 341; 2. John Force, 294; 3. Ron Capps, 289; 4. Del Worsham, 283; 5. Jack Beckman, 271; 6. Courtney Force, 265; 7. Chad Head, 236; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 233; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 221; 10. Matt Hagan, 150.
1. Jason Line, 463; 2. Greg Anderson, 415; 3. Bo Butner, 331; 4. Drew Skillman, 264; 5. Chris McGaha, 214; 6. Allen Johnson, 212; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 191; 8. Vincent Nobile, 175; 9. Erica Enders, 171; 10. Alex Laughlin, 154.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 129; 2. Hector Arana, 99; 3. Andrew Hines, 79; 4. LE Tonglet, 74; 5. Chip Ellis, 62; 6. (tie) Michael Ray, 52; Jerry Savoie, 52; Jim Underdahl, 52; 9. Angelle Sampey, 35; 10. (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 33. Melissa Surber, 33.