Throughout the course of the season, competitors in the NHRA’s Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will invariably arrive at a track and/or location which holds additional significance for the driver and team, providing extra motivation and pressure to perform. For example, at this weekend’s SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas, Greg Anderson and the Summit Racing team will be racing in their sponsor’s race held in their team owner Ken Black’s hometown. Although some might dread this unique challenge, Anderson is confident his crew is up to the task, pointing to a history of solid performances under similar conditions.
“Historically, this Summit Racing team has performed at its best with their backs against the wall,” Anderson said. “I don’t have an exact reason why that is the case, and it’s not that we necessarily welcome the extra pressure, but I do believe it may make us pay a little extra attention to every detail in order to avoid the mistakes that can cost you a race. It all comes down to a desire to do well in front of those people who mean so much to this team.
“When you have your sponsors in the house, who come to only a few races a year, a strong performance can make a lasting impression with long-term rewards. When the stakes are that high, you need to come through. Fortunately, this KB Racing team has delivered more often than not, and we hope to do so again this weekend.”
A quick look at Anderson’s record at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway proves his point. In 20 starts on the Nevada quarter-mile, he has posted seven wins (three in the spring event) in nine final round appearances, which leads all professional competitors. However, as he explains, this success did not come without a concerted effort by the entire team.
“We did not run well in our first few races on The Strip, and it hurt to not perform in front of Ken and his family,” Anderson said. “As a result, we spent a lot of time testing there over the next eight years to make sure we did not have a bad event there. In fact, we have probably tested there as much as we have at our local track because the stakes are higher. Fortunately, that extra preparation paid off, and it is a practice we continue today, because we want to make sure and put a successful product on the race track.”
Despite the added pressures, the four-time champion and current NHRA Pro Stock championship points leader remains optimistic about his chances for the weekend. Having started the season with three consecutive final round finishes, he looks to continue his success at this most important event.
“The easiest way to explain how I feel about this weekend is that I plan on putting some money down on all three of our Summit Racing Pontiacs,” Anderson said. “There are certainly no sure things, but we are confident and come into this race with great running race cars and tremendous momentum, having gone to three finals, with the team winning twice. On top of that, we’re going to a track that we like, so even though I can’t look into a crystal ball and predict a winner for this weekend, I know where I’m going to put my money at the casino and hope for the best.”
Finally, beyond the simple competitive aspect, Anderson also looks forward to the NHRA’s twin trips to the Entertainment Capital of the World because of the effort put forth by the track to promote their races. For example, on Thursday night, both Summit Racing drivers, as well as Genuine Hotrod Hardware Pontiac pilot Ronnie Humphrey, will be among a large contingent of NHRA stars taking part in an autograph session as part of the FanFest held on the Strip in front of the New York New York hotel and casino, a popular event which annually draws a tremendous crowd.
“As is typical of the Bruton Smith-owned tracks, the Las Vegas races are among the best promoted events of the year,” Anderson said. “Whether we’re in Bristol, Charlotte, Las Vegas or Sonoma they will have everything from autograph sessions to charity golf, bowling and poker tournaments all designed to make it a better experience for the fans, which is a win-win situation. We appreciate the effort, and therefore look forward to racing there because it makes for a better event all around.”