BROWNSBURG — Greg Anderson knows he has the car to win the US Nationals on Monday. His 6.567 time Saturday set him up in pole position for the third straight race as he chases a Pro Stock victory in Brownsburg.
The recent qualifying success is a result of tweaks he and his team made to his car’s engine over a matter of months. Little had changed in years before that, but he and his crew saw other teams gaining speed, improving their cars. They had thought, factoring in rule changes and the work they had done earlier, there was little more to do that would add horsepower. That belief flipped early in the season.
It led to longer looks into ways to add speed. Nothing they did was major, but, as Anderson pointed out, the tweaks add up. Gaining a few horsepower with an adjustment, another a week later led to improvement throughout the summer.
Now, as comfortable with his car as he’s been all year, the only thing standing in the way of Anderson is himself.
“I don’t claim to be the world’s best driver out there,” he said. “I try to not screw things up, to be honest with you. I look around me and I look up to a lot of the other guys and I consider a lot of other guys a lot more pure drivers than I am. I’m kind of an all-around guy. I like to work on the car, I like to work on the engine and I like to drive it. But I don’t think of those three things, the driving is my strong point.”
Whatever the reasons for or detriments to Anderson’s performance, his qualifying is the latest in a string of strong weekends. His best three races by points have all come in the past two months.
Anderson is playing with house money as one of four Pro Stock drivers already guaranteed a playoff spot before the weekend began. His first-place qualifying run Saturday put him in a similar situation. He made more engine tweaks before Sunday. None were meant to be permanent, just experimenting while already in a comfortable spot.
“We’re starting to climb that ladder back up,” he said. “We’ve got a car that can win again, that shows you by the way it qualifies, so we just gotta put it all together on (Monday). And that means the car, but more importantly the driver. The driver’s gonna have to get his act together and get the job done.”
Brittany Force sets track record
Brittany Force entered the weekend leading Top Fuel in points, having led for most of the season. Sunday, she solidified her status as the favorite after a difficult day of qualifying Saturday. She jumped to the top of the leaderboard Sunday, setting a Lucas Oil Raceway record with 3.60 seconds and a top speed of 337.5 miles per hour. Over three hundredths of a second separated Force from second-place Justin Ashley in what ended up being the fastest qualifying field in history of the US Nationals. The qualification was delayed, then ultimately cut short due to rain.
“It’s Indy,” Force said. “Everybody wants to accomplish something here. So we grabbed that No. 1 qualifier. We had a killer run. We struggled every lap and finally got it figured out in that one qualifying run.”
Ron Capps takes Funny Car pole, wins $80K
In 2021, Tim Wilkerson edged out Ron Capps for the Funny Car US National Championship. A year later, given the option to select his opponent in the first round of qualifying, the defeat was still fresh in Capps’ mind. He chose Wilkerson.
Capps won the rematch and eventually moved onto the finals to face Matt Hagen. Capps beat Hagen to the finish line, sealing both pole position and a flashy reward: a WWE-esque championship belt and a briefcase full of cash for winning the All-Star Callout. It was Capps’ fifth pole of the year but first in his career at US Nationals.
The idea of winning has been on Capps’ mind since his narrow defeat in the finals last year. Against his best efforts in 2021, he imagined the taste of victory. He thought about how it would feel, what he would say in the post-race interview. He never got to experience any of it in reality. Monday, he’ll try again.
“It’s gonna be fun, enjoying No. 1 qualifier,” he said. “We’re gonna have a great celebration right now to celebrate this, but not too much and get ready for tomorrow.”