POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2019) – The Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock team is well-versed in competition. KB Racing holds 160 Pro Stock wins and eight NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championships heading into Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, making them one of the most winning teams in the history of the sport, let alone the class.
But the group isn’t just intelligent and capable in terms of generating and applying horsepower; they also know how to race. In qualifying at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and with the championship on the line, the team put together an old-school bracket racing strategy to ensure that Greg Anderson, driver of the red Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, would have the opportunity to race points leader Erica Enders in the first round of eliminations and take their fate into their own hands.
The scenario coming into Pomona was that if Enders were to qualify, Anderson would be mathematically eliminated from championship contention. His teammates, Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro driver Jason Line and Bo Butner, driver of the Jim Butner Auto Group Chevrolet powered by KB Racing, would remain in striking distance of the big trophy if he could take out Enders in the first round on their behalf.
When it became evident in the first session of qualifying that Enders would, indeed, make the field, Anderson and his team moved forward with a plan used commonly in bracket racing. He lifted off of the throttle as he neared the finish line stripe and hoped that his qualifying position would land directly across from Enders, who was in the No. 2 spot.
“I’m out of it mathematically and have nothing to gain, so we figured we might as well take a shot at trying to round it up early and get a shot at her,” said Anderson on the first day of qualifying, immediately unveiling their intentions. “That’s really the only chance we’ve got, so that’s what we decided to do to try to give the rest of the class at least a slight glimmer. We’ll see how it works out.”
Through each qualifying round, Anderson’s concerted efforts to gauge when to lift to keep him in the right position produced the desired results, much to the frustration of the opposing – and very vocally offended – team across the way.
“I don’t really see what’s wrong with it,” said four-time champion Anderson, in response to the outrage of Enders and the Elite Motorsports group. “Do they expect me to come to the race and just hand it over? It’s not technically over yet. You have to keep swinging ’til the bell rings. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try. It’s a long shot, a miracle, really.
“It’s going to take, first, getting qualified right, and second, trying to beat her in the first round. It’s a long, long shot, but I’m going to try all I can, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that. They shouldn’t either. They have a lot of pride in their team, that’s a great team over there. Why would they worry about me?”
When it was all said and done, Anderson accomplished the first part of his goal. Qualified in the No. 15 position, he was guaranteed a first-round meeting with Enders.
“Unfortunately, we probably got the easy part done – although that was not easy, that was very difficult and probably just pure luck that we ended up in that spot,” said Anderson, acknowledging the work cut out for him on Sunday. “That job is done, but now it’s the big job tomorrow. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a blast. This is what NHRA Pro Stock racing is all about right here. If anybody isn’t excited about first round tomorrow, I’d think there’s something wrong with them.”
Line, a three-time world champion in the category and currently No. 3 in the points, must win the race on Sunday if he is to claim a fourth Pro Stock championship. He claimed a slew of bonus qualifying points in order to do his part and remain in the game. The same holds true for Butner, who must win and needed the bonus qualifying points to stay alive.
Line scored 11 bonus points to Enders’ four. His Summit Racing Chevy was the quickest Pro Stock car in the third session and second-quickest in both Q1 and Q4. He was fourth-best in the second qualifying round to plump his accumulation of valuable “baby points,” which could very well come into play if he should meet Jeg Coughlin Jr. (No. 2 in the standings) in the final. If the two should meet there and Line should win, it would give him the season title by one point.
“Qualifying was big, for sure. A little strategy involved,” said Line, who recorded a best time of 6.544-second at 210.01 mph and races Shane Tucker in round one. “We shouldn’t have gotten ourselves in this position in the first place, but [Elite Motorsports] has done a great job, and we have to catch them. We’re trying to do the right things and give ourselves an opportunity to win for Team Summit.”
Butner, the 2017 Pro Stock champion, brought in eight bonus points in qualifying – exactly what he needed. He will square off with Val Smeland in round one as he starts from the No. 4 spot with a best time of 6.557, 210.83.
“We talked about this a couple of races back, and then seeing how [Anderson] did in Vegas, this was our only choice,” said Butner, a longtime Sportsman competitor who has experienced a great deal of success as a bracket racer. “Maybe some people were frowning on it, but it’s just what you do. We’re not going to give up the championship. Greg let it be known that he’s out for Jason or myself to win. A KB Racing Chevy Camaro needs to win the championship.
“It’s going to take a miracle, we know, but I like our chances with Greg Anderson racing Erica Enders first round. The fate has already been decided, so we’re going to wake up tomorrow like it’s Christmas. It feels great that we have enough bonus points and we’re not locked out. It could end up being a very cool day.”
Eliminations for the Auto Club NHRA Finals will begin on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at 11 am PT.
KB Racing, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro
Q1: 6.646-second at 197.73 mph (No. 12)
Q2: 6.651, 188.31 (No. 15)
Q3: 6.741, 172.96 (No. 15)
Q4: 6.724, 176.35 (No. 15)
Final qualifying position: No. 15
First-round opponent: Erica Enders
Points position after qualifying: No. 7
Championship scenario: Mathematically eliminated from championship in qualifying; must defeat points leader Erica Enders in the first round to allow teammates Jason Line and Bo Butner the opportunity to win the championship
KB Racing, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro
Q1: 6.554-second at 211.03 mph (No. 2, +3 bonus points)
Q2: 6.560, 211.06 (No. 3, +1)
Q3: 6.557, 210.44 (No. 3, +4)
Q4: 6.544, 210.01 (No. 3, +3)
Final qualifying position: No. 3
First-round opponent: Shane Tucker
Points position after qualifying: No. 3
Championship scenario: Enders must lose first round and Line must win race to clinch championship
KB Racing, Jim Butner Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro
Q1: 6.574-second at 210.77 mph (No. 4, +1 bonus point)
Q2: 6.557, 210.83 (No. 4, +2)
Q3: 6.567, 210.01 (No. 4, +3)
Q4: 6.568, 210.87 (No. 4, +2)
Final qualifying position: No. 4
First-round opponent: Val Smeland
Points position after qualifying: No. 4
Championship scenario: Enders must lose first round and Butner must win race to clinch championship
2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Standings
(after Auto Club NHRA Finals qualifying, NHRA Countdown to the Championship race 6 of 6)
1. Erica Enders (2), 2575
2. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (1), 2494
3. Jason Line (2), 2465
4. Bo Butner (4), 2464
5. Matt Hartford (1), 2448
6. Deric Kramer (2), 2409
7. Greg Anderson (3), 2408
8. Alex Laughlin (1), 2345
9. Chris McGaha (1), 2299
10. Val Smeland, 2203
Auto Club NHRA Finals
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
November 14-17, 2019
Run Schedule (all times local)
Sunday, November 17
9:45 a.m. – SealMaster Track Walk, followed by Pre-Race Ceremonies
11:00 a.m. – Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro eliminations begin
#NHRAonFOX Schedule (all times ET)
Qualifying / Sunday – 3-4 PM ET / FS1
Finals / Sunday – 4-7 PM ET / FS1
**Full results at DragRaceCentral.com**