Aug. 10, 2008
NHRA Nationals: Anderson holds on to top
By Jon Nowacki
BRAINERD — Duluth native Greg Anderson has
come a long way since he started drag racing in the late 1970s.
When he and the late John Hagen would drive to
Florida for preseason testing back then, there wasn’t enough
room in the cab of the hauler. So, one of the crew members would
sit in the race car in the back of the enclosed trailer the entire
way to Florida — with no lights. There wasn’t enough
money, either, so the entire crew would cram into a single motel
room along the way.
That dedication has paid off. Anderson is now
part of a million-dollar racing team and is starring on drag racing’s
biggest stage, the NHRA’s Powerade Series. He is showing why
this weekend, holding onto the top qualifying spot in Pro Stock
for today’s final eliminations at the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd
Like Anderson, teammate Jason Line, a native of
Wright, Minn., struggled on Saturday but still qualified fifth after
a stellar showing on Friday. The teammates faced each other in all
four qualifying runs.
“Thank God for Fridays,” Anderson
said, laughing. “I’m going to pretend Saturday never
happened. We didn’t set the world on fire. We didn’t
do much for our confidence, but hopefully we lulled the other drivers
into a false sense of security. We’ve got ’em right
where we want them.”
Don’t expect Anderson’s first-round
opponent, Steve Spiess, to take him lightly today. The driver from
Manhattan, Ill., is in his first year on the circuit and qualified
for eliminations for the first time.
“Hey, Steve Spiess,” NHRA announcer
Bob Frey told the crowd. “Welcome to Pro Stock. You get Greg
Anderson, 47, held on for his fourth No. 1 qualifying
position of the season and 66th of his career after clocking an
elapsed time of 6.679 seconds and 206.76 mph in the quarter-mile
on Friday. Today, the three-time Pro Stock champion will go for
career victory No. 57 on his home track.
Anderson, a 1979 Denfeld graduate, didn’t
attend races for two years after Hagen died in a drag racing accident
at BIR in 1983. On Saturday, one of the people cheering him on was
Hagen’s widow, Gerry. Anderson gave Gerry Hagen the trophy
after his lone victory at BIR in 2003.
“John would be so proud of him,” Gerry
Hagen said. “We’re all proud of him. He is great at
what he does, but stays so humble. He’s a gentleman racer.
He’s like another son to me.”