By Lee Elder
JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2018) – Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it and that was just fine with NHRA Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson.
Unexpectedly cool temperatures at Route 66 Raceway allowed the teams at the Jegs Route 66 Nationals to get aggressive with their tuneups and Anderson took advantage of the situation to record the quickest time in his category after two rounds of qualifying. The third and fourth rounds will be held Saturday afternoon.
“We love it,” Anderson said, grinning. “We absolutely love conditions like this. We’ve got a great race track, you’ve got great atmosphere with the amphitheater setting out here. It’s a cool place to race.”
Nothing like a spot on the top of the ladder to make the weather look better.
Anderson led Pro Stock with a pass of 6.546 seconds and 211.03 mph. Andrew Hines led Pro Stock Motorcycle at 6.862 seconds and 193.9 mph. Eddie Krawiec tied Hines’ time but Hines had the better speed and got the top spot for the time being. Matt Hagan topped the Funny Car charts at 3.917 seconds and 326.79 mph, while Steve Torrence was best in Top Fuel at 3.677 seconds, 333.58 mph.
The ambient temperature in the middle of the afternoon was nearly 90 degrees but the mercury started falling in the late afternoon. The track temperature was only 107 degrees when the professional classes started their first round of qualifying. The track surface showed a temperature of just 85 degrees when the second round get going. Shadows covered the length of the racing surface by that time under cloudless skies. The session finished after dark with the temperatures dropping.
“I think it caught us all off guard,” Anderson said. “We didn’t expect it to cool down like this. It was a neat change because every time this stuff happens, when the weather goes down like this, it just makes these Pro Stock cars come alive, so we love it.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying leader Hines said, “I told (his crewmembers) that I didn’t think I’d be complaining about being cold here in Chicago this week. Not our typical atmospheric conditions for Route 66 Raceway here. We’ll take it. It’s nice. The motors like it better, I like it better.”
Torrence’s time and speed both set track records, a performance he did not expect. “It kind of surprised me a little bit because I saw a lot of cars smoking the tires a little bit. I was just hoping we’d go 3.70 (seconds) or something and be in the game.”
The first eight cars in Funny Car were all quicker than four seconds. In contrast to Torrence, Hagan had a feeling he was in for a ride. “I could see the wheels turning in Dickie (Venables’) mind and I was pulling myself in tight because I knew if we could get past the tree that we could make a good run.”
Saturday’s schedule includes the annual Jegs Allstars race for the top sportsman teams in 10 categories across from the country.
NOTES: Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson raced with sponsorship from MacRak this weekend. Johnson said the agreement covers only the Joliet event. … Brittany and Courtney Force will both race with Advance Auto Parts sponsorship this weekend. Typically, Courtney Force races with Advance colors on her Funny Car and Brittany’s Top Fuel car has another sponsor. … Tim Freeman will drive a third Summit Racing Chevrolet Pro Stock car for KB Racing this weekend. … There were 19 Top Fuel entries, 19 in Funny Car, 17 in Pro Stock and 19 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.