Anderson hopes homework will pay off
MOORESVILLE, NC – Throughout the course of the 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing season, teams will be challenged to adapt to a variety of conditions, from differing racing surfaces to a myriad of atmospheric changes. However, nowhere will the assignment be more difficult than at this weekend’s Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, Colo., where the naturally-aspirated Pro Stock cars will be throttled by the razor-thin air, producing elapsed times nearly half a second slower than at other tracks.
In his previous 11 races at Bandimere Speedway, site of this weekend’s event, Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro driver Greg Anderson has notched two national event victories, four No. 1 qualifying performances and won two-thirds of the elimination rounds he has contested. Even with his most recent triumph coming as recently as 2008, Anderson and his crew have been studying hard since the last race in Norwalk, working to come up with an effective plan for reaching the top of “the mountain”, as racers refer to the scenic quarter-mile.
“To be honest, we’ve struggled with that Denver rascal for the last few years,” said Anderson. “It’s a neat place to race – a cool city and a great racetrack, with the Bandimere family and their entire staff doing a tremendous job. However, the conditions on the mountain are so different that it’s probably our toughest challenge of the entire season.
“We were unable to test there this year, so we’ve been hitting the books, poring over our notes from previous races, trying to come up with a good game plan for our Summit Racing Camaros. We’ve been fast there in the past, so we know we can do it. It’s just up to us to find a way to get back to that level of performance, and we’ll know how well we did once we get there.”
As Anderson explains, racing in the Mile-High City requires much more than a few simple adjustments. Unlike their brethren in the nitro-driven categories, the “factory hot rods” will lose almost 30 percent of the horsepower normally available to them, completely changing the tuning dynamic, and necessitating the use of parts specifically made for this one race.
“We enjoy going to Bandimere, but our race cars certainly don’t,” remarked Anderson. “Because of the lack of oxygen, the engines are choked down from the 1,400 we run at other tracks to about 1,000 – 1,100 in Denver, which goes against the grain of what we have tried to incorporate into the design of these Summit Camaros.
“For example, we have gear sets we’ll use there and nowhere else. Basically, we have to make the motor and the car do something they weren’t built to do, which is a very tough assignment, and why we have been studying our notes. We’re trying to find the right answers, seeing what we need to do to perform well this weekend.”
Finally, this race marks the start of an NHRA tradition – the Western Swing. Over the next three weeks, the world’s best quarter-milers will be competing on consecutive weekends, following the Denver race with stops in Sonoma, Calif. and Seattle, Wash. With the playoff season rapidly approaching, this triad represents a prime opportunity for some to better their chances of securing one of the 10 spots available. In Anderson’s case, although he will lock himself in this year’s Countdown by simply making a qualifying attempt in Denver, the demands of “The Swing” remain the same, with the KB Racing crew working long hours to prepare for any eventuality that may occur while on the other side of the country from the team’s North Carolina headquarters.
“The Western Swing is a huge challenge,” said Anderson. “We pack everything we possibly can in our trailers. For example, we’ll take a spare race car along, which we don’t normally do, so the transporters are jammed full and you hope you’re taking enough to make it through, because it can be a battle of attrition.
“With the first race being in Denver you don’t want to incur a lot of damage to your engine parts, because it could make for a long three weeks. On the other hand, if you make it out of this weekend in good shape, it makes the other two races seem a lot easier. It’s a test of the entire team, and this Summit Racing team has shown in the past that we have the depth to make it work for us, and we’re hoping that’s the case again this year.
“It’s great that we’re going to lock ourselves in the Countdown this weekend, but we’ve been up and down a bit lately, which is never good. We’re naturally conscious of it, and realize we need to rectify a few things. Our goal for this weekend is to make sure we race a little smarter and drive a little better, avoiding any low points. Until we achieve that objective, we’re not going to be satisfied.”