The 47th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals were a time to shine for Ken Black’s Pro Stock team, and after running the table all weekend, the two Summit Racing-branded Chevrolet Camaros met in the final round of eliminations for the second all-KB Racing final of the year and 26th in the history of the team. Ultimately, Greg Anderson came out on top with a holeshot win over Jason Line.
“As the weekend went on, we made run after run and Jason was absolutely the strongest car. I told myself, if you can just do your job tomorrow and fight and claw your way to the final, you can take a runner up, go home and make things better for the next race,” said four-time Gainesville winner Anderson.
“I thought I’d be happy if we could just get an all-Summit Racing final. But that happened, and we went one farther. I found a way to steal a victory from him.”
Last year at Gainesville Raceway, Anderson earned the 75th win of his Pro Stock career, and this year in celebration of that milestone, he scored his 80th Wally trophy. Notably, the 2015 victory also occurred in an all-Summit Racing final.
In the first round of eliminations, Anderson, driving the red Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, was off the starting line ahead of challenger V. Gaines in the Kendall Oil Dodge, and he closed the door on his opponent at the top end with a 6.581-second pass at 210.28 mph to 6.656, 208.78. Anderson’s pass was the second-quickest of the round and allowed him lane choice over Elite Motorsports driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart in the quarterfinals.
Anderson was vulnerable when he launched with a .068-second reaction time, well behind Coughlin’s typically quick .018, but he soon gained the advantage as Coughlin fell into wicked tire shake. Anderson surged ahead for a 6.621, 209.75 win over a 12.830, 91.11. It was the 85th time Anderson and Coughlin had raced during eliminations, and it was the 40th time that Anderson was the victor.
With a ticket to the semifinals in hand, the Mooresville, N.C.-based driver prepared to meet Allen Johnson and the Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart. For Johnson, reaching the semifinals was a pleasing improvement over the first two races on the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, but his day ended there as Anderson clocked a quick 6.596, 209.98 to his 6.646, 208.59.
On the other side of the ladder, Jason Line and the blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro started the day with a bye run due to the 15-car field. Appearing to bat for the fences right out of the gate, Line wheeled his way to a 6.562 at 210.87 that would stand as the quickest and fastest pass of the entire weekend. He continued to throw down as the quickest and fastest in each round along the way to the final, first doing away with a troubled Vincent Nobile in the Mountain View Chevrolet Camaro out of the Elite Motorsports camp, 6.594, 210.57 to 7.039, 159.42, and then eliminating another Elite driver, Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro pilot Drew Skillman, 6.584, 210.41 to 6.640, 208.30.
According to NHRA statistician Lewis Bloom, only six times in the past eight years had a Pro Stock final been decided on a holeshot, but Greg Anderson rolled that number to seven as he launched furiously with a .009 light to gain an immediate and critical advantage over Line, who was .064 at the tree. At the top end, it was Anderson’s win light flashing, 6.598, 210.01 to a quicker yet ineffective 6.581, 210.57. The margin of victory was .0387.
The Gainesville win was the third in a row for KB Racing – a first for the team. Anderson won the season-opener in Pomona over Line, who was victorious two weeks later in Phoenix.
“I somehow overachieved in the final and stole a victory from Jason,” said Anderson. “Good for me, but it’s great for KB Racing. No matter what happened in the final round it is a victory all around, and I couldn’t be prouder of this race team I have. Everybody is operating at such a high level. We know this isn’t going to last forever – this is Pro Stock, there are a lot of very intelligent people in this class, and that gap will close – but when you have an advantage, you tell yourself you better make the most of it. We’ve done that, and we have three trophies to show for it. We just hope and pray we can make our racecars better and take that advantage into the next race.”
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