EPPING, N.H. — Greg Anderson can’t wipe the smile off his face these days and it’s easy to understand why.
With a nearly three-year winless streak now in the rearview mirror, the four-time Pro Stock world champion is back in championship contention and feeling as good as ever in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
Along with a return to his winning ways, Anderson, who claimed his 76th career victory last weekend in Englishtown, is grateful for how he and his team recovered from that prolonged slump that stretched back to 2012.
But it also has Anderson hungry to pick up his third win during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at this weekend’s third annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
“When you win kind of as often as we used to win back in the day and then you go through a dry spell like we did, you wonder if you’ll ever win again,” Anderson said. “You really then appreciate all those wins we need and think to yourself, ‘Man, if I can ever do it one more time it would be the best feeling ever,’ and it is.
“There is no win more important than the last win. Every win that I find a way to get is the most important win I ever had. It’s just a great feeling when you finally do win because of the competition we race against. I feel fantastic when I win. It’s the coolest thing in the world.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) are defending winners of the event. It is the 10th of 24 events during what has been a massive bounce back season for Anderson.
The longtime Pro Stock standout has collected victories in Gainesville and Englishtown this season and advanced to five final rounds. It’s a welcome change from the struggles that he endured since winning at Englishtown in 2012. Anderson went winless in 2013, finishing eighth in points and missed the first portion of 2014 following off-season heart surgery.
Anderson then failed to qualify for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship despite a late surge, but that feels like a distant memory now. The win last weekend in Englishtown gave Anderson the points lead for the first time since 2012, something that could only make the Duluth, Minn. native smile.
“That’s a whole lot of cool stuff right there,” Anderson said. “I had a great weekend. The car ran great right off the trailer and I made eight runs in a row, between four in qualifying and four on race day that felt awesome. All I could have done is screw it up. We got the victory and it’s good to be back.”
The early-season performance also has Anderson excited for the rest of the year against a talented Pro Stock field. There will be a litany of challenges along the way but if Anderson continues to perform like he has, he will take plenty of confidence into the key stretch of the season.
“It’s a neat feeling to have a race car that can win the race if you just pilot it down the track and not make a mistake,” Anderson said. “That’s all a driver can ask for and I had it (last) weekend and I hope I can get it many more times this year. It’s going to be a great battle as we go forward here. I feel great about our chances and our future, but it’s certainly not going to be easy. It’s going to be a heck of a battle and I’m looking forward to it. The best part is I truly believe I will be part of the championship chase this year and that fight to the end. I’m looking forward to the battle.”
That battle in Epping will include defending world champ Erica Enders, last season’s points runner-up and teammate Jason Line, Phoenix winner Rodger Brogdon, Allen Johnson, Larry Morgan, rookie Drew Skillman, Chris McGaha, V Gaines, Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray and Vincent Nobile.
Even with that, Anderson is excited to return to Epping after sensing the momentum he built in Englishtown.
“It seems like all up and down the East Coast we get support for Pro Stock and I can’t thank (the fans) enough for that,” Anderson said. “It makes you feel good and it makes you feel proud to do what you do. When we get the good power conditions, that’s when we seem to excel.”