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MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 25, 2017) – NHRA Pro Stock went through a mighty series of changes prior to last season’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series run for the championship, and no team weathered the new rules better than Ken Black’s Summit Racing-branded house of hot rods.
KB Racing’s Greg Anderson and Jason Line were out of the gate with ferocity in their Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros at the season-opener, where Anderson picked up the first No. 1 qualifier award in the new era of Pro Stock with carburetors swapped for electronic fuel injection and RPMs stunted to a paltry 10,500. Anderson then emerged victorious in a final-round battle with Line for that coveted first trophy, and the domination continued from there with 16 trophies in 24 races landing in the Team Summit camp. The edge over their competition parlayed into a third world championship for Line in the final hours with only Anderson nipping at his heels.
It was quite a season for the Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock team, but Anderson projects that 2017 will bring significantly more challenge.
“I don’t think it’s any secret, and you saw it towards the end of last year, everybody is closing the gap on us,” said Anderson from the KB Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C. “There will not be a big gap. Things are, without a doubt, tightened up. We’re expecting a tougher challenge without the edge that we had last year, and it will be more of a driver’s race than a crew chief’s race.”
The 86-time national event winner got a little seat time last week in preparation for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, scheduled to take place Feb. 9-12, 2017. The crew drove south to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida with just one car – the Chevrolet Camaro that KB Racing-powered Bo Butner will pilot for the first handful of events while his new Jerry Haas-built Chevy Camaro is completed.
“We brought out the Camaro that I drove back in 2012, and it hasn’t been run in a couple of years. So, we made 18 runs in two days, and I think we’re just about ready,” said Anderson, who won the 100th victory for KB Racing in the Camaro that he will hand off to Butner. That milestone win was particularly notable as it occurred in the very first outing for the car, but most won’t recognize the Chevy now with its smooth, scoopless hood – another change mandated for the factory hot rods prior to last season.
According to Anderson, the weather in Bradenton was comparable to what will likely be seen the weekend of the Winternationals, which allowed the team to get a good gauge on a few things they have been working on since the curtain dropped on 2016.
“We were able to kill two birds with one stone with this test,” said Anderson, a four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion who will enter the 2017 season with the No. 2 on his window. “This was a good opportunity for us to get this car ready for Bo to drive for the first couple of races, but it also gave us the chance to test some engine projects that we’ve been developing over the winter. It was a good test, we learned a lot, and now we have a few days to get our ducks in a row, decide what was good and what was bad, and get ready for the season ahead.”
The Summit Racing team will soon head West to begin their title defense with a stop at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, just outside of Phoenix. Many NHRA Pro Stock teams will join them there for one final pre-season test the week of the Winternationals, and the KB Racing group is looking forward to getting comfortable in newly re-bodied Jerry Haas-built Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros, freshly painted by renowned artist and Sportsman racer Travis Hess.
“We’re certainly looking forward to getting back out there with everybody,” said Anderson, who won 8 races in 14 final rounds last season, mirroring teammate Line yet missing the championship by just three points. “With the way the rules are now, nobody is going to stay separated from the pack for very long. We knew that from the beginning, and it just took a little longer than we thought it would for everyone to catch up. Everybody has been staying home working on the dyno this winter, doing their homework. There will be many teams who are every bit as strong as us, and it will be very tough – but that’s what makes it exciting.”