ENNIS, Texas (Aug. 6, 2014) – Greg Anderson is over not winning. Way over.
The four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, who has 74 career victories, hasn’t won in more than two years. And for the 53-year-old driver who enters the Sept. 18-21 Texas AAA NHRA Fall Nationals with four wins at Texas Motorplex, that’s totally unacceptable.
Not only has Anderson struggled to get back into the win column, he also endured some pretty serious health issues earlier this year that took him out of his car for five NHRA events. On Feb. 6, when he normally would have been racing in the season-opener at Pomona, Anderson was undergoing heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve.
“Believe me, that will make you think,” Anderson said. “It definitely puts things in perspective for you. You wonder if you can still do it, if you’re going to feel chest pains when you get in the car, if your heart is going to be OK.
“And to be honest, it scared me. When you have to go through something like that, you wonder if everything is going to ever be the same.”
While sitting on the sidelines, Anderson lost 20 pounds of muscle, he says from “sitting on the couch, doing absolutely nothing, which drove me nuts.” What made him even crazier though was seeing somebody else in his car. Worse than that was seeing somebody else win in his car, which is what Jimmy Alund did in Charlotte in April.
“Listen, it was great to see somebody get their first win,” Anderson said. “It was a great opportunity for him and it was cool to see. But, it was MY car and he was driving it because I couldn’t. That was hard for me.”
So Anderson went to his surgeon and basically begged him to let him come back a week earlier than he was supposed to so he could race in Houston.
“I was ready to come back by Charlotte,” he said. “I went to my surgeon and told him I wanted to race and he laughed at me. That was only nine weeks after the surgery so I went back a couple weeks later and talked to him again. That time I was able to convince him to let me come back.”
In his first race back, Anderson lost in the first round and while that wasn’t the result he wanted, he was just happy to be racing again.
“Yes, there were nerves before I ran that weekend and even though I lost in the first round, I felt great in the car,” he said. “I can’t tell you just how great it was just to be back in the seat and driving again.”
Since then Anderson has appeared in three finals but is still searching for a win, which he knows will come soon.
“At Seattle, we were in the finals against (teammate) Jason (Line) and that was positively the best chance we’ve had to win in the last two years,” Anderson said. “And we are going to win. Everything has just gotten better and better and better.
“I was disappointed I didn’t win at Seattle but it was still a great day because I got points that I really needed and it moved me up (in the standings).”
As for losing to Line – who is also one of Anderson’s closest friends – that just lights the competitive fire even more.
“It definitely makes it tougher for me to win when he’s winning,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s great to see Jason doing so well and my time is coming. I really, really, really want to win a race soon. Realistically you can’t win the Countdown if you haven’t won a race. I still think I can and I have to prove to myself that I can.
“This not winning thing has to come to an end. Like the girl says in the movie “My Cousin Vinny”, my biological clock is ticking.”
Anderson’s main focus now is making the Countdown to the Championship and nailing down a win at Texas Motorplex would go a long way in helping him win a fifth title.
“I need a couple of strong races going into Texas,” he said. “And I always feel good there because I’ve won there a few times (four). That’s just a very, very good race surface, one of the best we’ve ever run on. You can use all the power you have, you don’t have to tip-toe down the track, you go hard and you make clean runs without having to back down. It fits our program very well.”
Anderson’s last win at the Motorplex came in 2010, the first year the track presented its winners with cowboy hats.
“Those cowboy hats are just cool,” he said. “I’m not a cowboy but that hat stays in my trophy case and it’s just cool to have it there to look at. Jason’s got a couple of those hats now and I’ve just got the one.
“I think it’s time for me to at least get even with him. And if I won there that would be huge for a lot of reasons. It would be my first win in two years, it’s in the Countdown and it would mean I’m performing well. And that’s what I’m looking for, performing well enough to win.”
Tickets for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals are available now, ranging from just $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12 and under start as low as $5. For tickets or more information, please call the Texas Motorplex office at (800) MOTORPLEX or visit www.texasmotorplex.com.
The first ever PreStage Fan Fest in Downtown Ennis will be held Wednesday, Sept. 17 between 5-10 p.m. with food trucks, music, driver appearances and more.
Gates open for the 29th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 18 with sportsman qualifying runs between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Two rounds of professional qualifying, at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., highlight the Friday, Sept. 19 schedule, along with sportsman qualifying throughout the day. Saturday, Sept. 20, is packed with sportsman eliminations and the final two rounds of professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Gates open at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, with pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m. and final eliminations getting under way at 11 a.m.
Check out this SHOUT OUT from NHRA Drivers about the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals
In partnership with the city of Ennis, Texas Motorplex will present the first ever PreStage Fan Fest event in downtown Ennis on Wednesday, Sept. 17, the day before the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, the second race in the Countdown to the Championship, gets underway.
“We are so excited about giving our race fans a Fan Fest like this,” Texas Motorplex President/GM, Gabrielle Stevenson, said. “I can’t thank the city of Ennis enough for getting involved and wanting to be an even bigger part of one of NHRA’s biggest race weekends of the year.
“This is going to be a great event, leading up to the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, where fans will see some of the fiercest competition of the year. Our fans are the absolute greatest in the world and we’re thrilled to be able to give them this Fan Fest to get them even more fired up for the race weekend.”
The PreStage Fan Fest, which is free, takes place from 5-10 p.m. Streets in the N. Dallas/Knox are will be blocked off so fans will be able to take full advantage of all the activities, which include music, food trucks and plenty of NHRA professional and sportsman cars. Fans also will have the opportunity to meet drivers and get autographs.
On-track action for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals begins on Thursday, Sept. 18 with sportsman qualifying from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. On Sept. 19, sportsman qualifying starts at 8 a.m. while professional qualifying takes place at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m. Sportsman eliminations are set for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, followed by professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Gates open Sunday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m., followed by pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m. Final professional eliminations will begin at 11 a.m.
Tickets are still available and, along with souvenir merchandise, are available at www.texasmotorplex.com. Adult tickets start at just $10 while youth tickets (12 years old and under) range from $5 to $33. Call 1-800-MOTORPLEX (668-6775) for more information.