BRISTOL — For the first time in a long time, Greg Anderson and his Summit Racing team find themselves playing catch up.
The four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, who has won at least three races every year for the past decade, is winless this season heading into this weekend’s Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Even more amazing, Anderson’s teammate Jason Line, himself a two-time series champion, hasn’t visited the winner’s circle either.
“It’s new territory for us and it takes the all the fun out of it,” Anderson said. “Obviously the fun for us is winning. I’ve had a lot of success over the years so we’ve probably got a little bit spoiled. It’s been a grind for us, but we’ve been working really, really hard getting back to where we need to be, but it’s taken longer than we’re accustomed to.”
Anderson insists that nobody with the Summit Racing team is arguing or pointing fingers at this point. Although it bothers the 74-time national-event winner not to have a victory this season, more aggravating is the fact he’s not been close.
He’s yet to reach a final round this season and has three semifinal appearances — at Phoenix, Atlanta and his home race at Charlotte.
“Everybody is buckled down, working hard, trying to solve the problem,” Anderson said. “Maybe this week will be the weekend we turn it around. I can’t wait to get back to the race track, not neccessarily the winner’s circle, but just knowing you have a good chance to win. We haven’t had that feeling all year going into a race.”
The major problem has been getting the feel of the Camaro he races, but he’s not ready to blame every thing on the car’s chassis.
“Probably 60 percent of it has been the chassis’ fault, but it’s a little bit of everything,” he said. “We haven’t adapted to the track conditions, and I’m not going to exclude the engine. It’s not quite where it needs to be. We’re working on every area trying to get better.”
While others have commented it’s not time to panic, that he has until the six-race “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs to start running like the Summit team is known for, Anderson doesn’t subscribe to that thought process.
“Everybody said until the Countdown is in play, you have time to get your act together,” he said. “I don’t buy that because I go to every race to win every race. That’s what it’s all about for me. Every race to me means as much.”
It’s especially true at Bristol, one of the premier stops on the NHRA tour. Bristol offers a little bit of everything to the racers. It has the great drag-racing history, combined with the challenge of being one of the toughest places around to tune the race car.
“It’s one of the most challenging tracks without the great atmospheric conditions,” he said. “You don’t have the power as some of the sea-level tracks. That’s a little of our Achilles heel.
“The Thunder Valley part, the history part is great, but it’s where I won my first race and I absolutely love coming here because of that. But, it’s really the neatest venue of anywhere we race at.”
With the recent lack of success, Anderson admitted to a little self-doubt. The 52-year-old driver said some doubt is always present even when he’s winning.,Instead of letting that doubt overcome him, however, he uses it as motivation.
“I look at tomorrow and wonder if I will ever win again,” he said. “I always doubt myself and question, but I use that to dig more and get better regardless of the last race. You can’t back off and not be hungry. I’m still as hungry as I ever was.”