For the first time in several years, Greg Anderson and the Summit Racing team will be in an unusual position when they pull into Lucas Oil Raceway for this weekend’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. Even though they arrive as the defending event champions, they will not necessarily be seen as the favorites based on their struggles in recent races, which is certainly a departure from past seasons. However, having finally had time to thoroughly test their Chevrolet Camaros, Anderson is cautiously optimistic about his chances to prove the pundits wrong.

“We have a lot on our plate heading into Indy, with several things different from previous years,”  Anderson said. “For example, for the first time in a long while, we are not going into the race as one of the favorites. This year, people are just not seeing us in that role because of the struggles we’ve had dialing in our new cars. It’s no secret that we’re trying to make them better and faster, getting them ready for the playoffs.

“But the U.S. Nationals is the biggest and coolest race of the year, so I am not about to discount it as just another practice race before the start of the Countdown. That race means the world to me, and I want to go win it, which is why we are trying as hard as we can to have these Summit Racing Camaros on top of their game when we roll through the gates at Lucas Oil Raceway.”

Since returning from the last race in Brainerd, the Summit Racing crew has been balancing their normal between-race maintenance with research and development efforts both at the shop and on the racetrack. Taking advantage of the first break after a hectic summer schedule, numerous days were spent making as many runs down the track as possible without the pressure of national event competition, zeroing in on the proper tune-up, determining exactly what adjustments would work and which ones would not.

“We’ve spent a lot of time at the track during the off week, testing our Summit Racing Camaros so we won’t have to look for major improvements once we get to Indy,” Anderson said. “Basically we’re looking to have a better feeling about where we stand with the tune-up than we’ve had for the last couple Fridays at national events, which I am confident we will, putting us in a position to contend for the win.

Teammate Jason Line agrees.

“We’re not there to be spectators,” Line said. “We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks testing our Summit Racing Camaros, working to get a handle on what they need to perform, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we’ve done. I’m confident we will be putting a better product on the track than we have at the last few races, allowing us to hopefully be in a position to win on Monday.”

Line is also looking to build on last year’s performance at Indy. Up until a year ago, the reigning champ was not necessarily a fan of Lucas Oil Raceway. He acknowledged the importance of the event–and the long and storied history behind it–but his on-track struggles at the famed quarter-mile had dampened his ethusiasm.

However, the Summit Racing ace scored his first #1-qualifying position at “The Big Go” last year and powered his way to the final round, where he was narrowly edged by his teammate Greg Anderson. Even though he enters this year’s event with an extensive to-do list, returning to the winner’s circle and claiming his first Indianapolis win remains a top priority.

“Although I still wouldn’t consider this to be one of my favorite tracks, I certainly respect the history and tradition behind the U.S. Nationals,” Line said. “It’s a cool race to go to, and I would certainly like to add an Indy Wally to my trophy case, as well as the increased payout for winning. I’m a muscle car guy, so I really enjoy watching all the Stockers that come out to run during the class runoffs, taking me back to the days when I raced in that category.

Like everyone else, Anderson and Line hope Hurricane Isaac doesn’t make an appearance at the track. computer models are currently predicting the remnants of the storm will arrive in the Indianapolis area during the weekend, with the potential for heavy rains putting any qualifying attempts at a premium. Even so, Line prefers to take a simple approach, seeing it simply as another variable out of their control that the team will have to deal with.

“Naturally, we would prefer to have five days of sunshine and cool temperatures, just like everyone else, but we’ll just have to see what happens, and deal with it accordingly,” Line said. “This is a long and difficult race, and we have to be ready to handle any situation that gets thrown at us over the course of the five days.”