Denfeld News

Aug. 10, 2008
Duluth News Tribune

NHRA Nationals: Anderson holds on to top qualifying spot
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 International Raceway.

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.”

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.”

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