Story By: NHRA – LAS VEGAS, NV – When Ken Black first formed KB Racing in 2001, one of the things he stressed to Greg Anderson was the importance of performing well at his home track, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The four-time world champion has responded in impressive fashion over the years, winning eight times in Pro Stock at the facility.
The veteran will now have a chance to become the winningest driver in NHRA history at the track at this weekend’s 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After struggling through the first three races of 2019, Anderson also hopes to get his NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season on track in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro at a race that has taken on new life since it went to the four-wide racing format a season ago.
“This track has become one of our bright spots and we’ve always had good luck there,” said Anderson, who has 91 career Pro Stock wins. “Last year was unreal (with the four-wide setup). The track was fantastic, it was a huge crowd and it turned out perfectly. You had four great lanes and a packed grandstands. The two races here are (Black’s) most important races, and we have to do well and put a smile on his face. It makes it important to do well and adds some pressure, but we’ve always kind of liked that.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 7. It is the fourth of 18 races during the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock season and marks the only four-wide race of the year for the class. Anderson has grown to be a fan of the biggest spectacle in drag racing, embracing the uniqueness of the race, and hopes it provides a spark to his season.
He suffered two first-round losses to open the year before picking up his first round win of the year in Gainesville, where he also qualified second. Currently sitting outside the top 10 in 11th place in the competitive Pro Stock ranks, Anderson hopes it’s something he can build on heading to an important race of the season.
“As the season started, we kind of struggled and got lost with my car,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have a good set-up and come Sunday we struggled. I think we figured some things out Gainesville, but on Sunday I dropped the ball as a driver. The good news is the car performance is there and we expect to contend again. It’s a matter of me getting my head right as a driver, but I can fix that and I’m confident we have a good car.”
With a new 18-race schedule in 2019, eight races now follow Vegas before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins. It’s nowhere near a dire situation yet, but with the class getting a six-week break following this weekend before returning in mid-May, Anderson wants to take momentum into the prolonged time off. It won’t be easy facing off with the likes of KB Racing teammates Jason Line and Bo Butner, the current points leader, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Erica Enders and Alex Laughlin, but Anderson has always performed well in these types of situations.
“With a shorter season, you can’t get behind and we’ve gotten a little behind,” Anderson said. “We can’t afford to fall any further behind. There’s more than 10 capable drivers of qualifying for the (Countdown to the Championship) and I’m not in the top 10 right now. We cannot throw away any more races, so we have to make the most of this weekend.”
Top Fuel defending world champ Steve Torrence will look for a repeat win and grab his first 2019 victory against points leader Doug Kalitta, Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force.
In Funny Car, J.R. Todd won a year ago to start his championship run, and he’s seeking his first win of 2019 against points leader Robert Hight and Phoenix winner Matt Hagan.
The riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete in Vegas after starting their season in Gainesville. Andrew Hines won there against the likes of Matt Smith and Eddie Krawiec.
The event also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 6, at 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 644-4444 or visit www.LVMS.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets online at NHRA.com/GOVX or at the gate with presentation of valid military or professional ID. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.