ORLANDO, Fla. – Greg Anderson moved a step closer to the biggest single-race payday in his legendary Pro Stock career.
The veteran standout qualified in the No. 1 spot at the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS, with his run of 6.531 seconds at 210.14 mph from Friday in his Chevrolet Camaro holding up during Saturday’s final qualifying session.
The four-time world champ earned the $1,000 top qualifier bonus sponsored by Chilly Willys and has plenty of momentum heading into Sunday’s eliminations, where the winner will earn $75,000. Anderson came close a year ago at the inaugural race, losing in the final round, and appears ready to try and finish the job in 2021.
“It’s great but just because you’re low doesn’t mean you’ve got everyone covered,” said Anderson, who has 94 career Pro Stock wins. “It’s a nice feather in the cap, but it doesn’t get you much more than that. The good news is we have a fast car among all the other fast cars, so we’ve got a great chance.”
Joining Anderson as the No. 1 qualifier was Khalid Al-Balooshi, who took top honors in Pro Mod and claimed the $1,000 top qualifier bonus sponsored by Caruso Family Racing.
Back-to-back and four-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders moved up to second on Saturday, making the top run of the day by going 6.534 seconds at 209.95 mph in her Trulieve/Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
It bumped teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. to third — though he made another solid run of 6.541 seconds to close out qualifying — and Kyle Koretsky finished fourth. Like last year, first-round pairings will be determined by a chip draw on the starting line. That takes place at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, just before the first round of eliminations, which are slated to begin at 12 p.m.
Saturday’s lone qualifying session was considerably cooler than Friday, which forced a dramatic change in conditions. With Sunday also calling for temperatures in the mid-60s, Anderson was thankful for the chance to find an engine tune-up for those conditions.
Anderson’s car got loose during his lone run on Saturday, but he’s confident he can rectify that before eliminations. He’s been a standout — and the most successful driver in Pro Stock history — in single-race shootouts, with the pressure of big-money races often bringing out the best in him. Anderson is hopeful he can replicate that on Sunday, knowing full well what it will take to succeed against a quality field.
“When you’ve got weather like this and power like this, you’ve got to go straight,” Anderson said. “That’s very important. I’ve got to get up on the wheel and make sure the car stays straight. I’m glad we got a run today because this is more of what we’re going to see tomorrow, so that’s good. I’m looking forward to it. My car wants to run, there’s no question about it.
“I know the adjustments I need to make tomorrow. When you’re making the kind of power we are with the way the weather is, you have to stay in the groove. That’s going to be the No. 1 thing on my mind.”
Al-Balooshi was happy to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Mod and grab the $1,000 top qualifier bonus thanks to his run of 5.659 seconds at 251.25 mph from Friday in his ProCharger-powered Bahrain 1 Racing ’19 Camaro.
But more than anything, Al-Balooshi was simply pleased to see teammate Justin Bond get into the show. On the outside looking in heading into the final qualifier on Saturday, Bond jumped up to third with a stellar run of 5.726 seconds at 250.64 mph. That brought a smile to Al-Balooshi’s face knowing the team landed in two of the top three spots and enter Sunday’s eliminations with a strong chance to win the $50,000 prize.
“I am happy, but more than anything we put Justin Bond’s car in the show,” Al-Balooshi said. “We have two shots to race tomorrow and try to win. That’s what made us happy today. We were struggling a little bit, but we found what we needed to and we made some adjustments, and we’re both headed in the right direction.”
Bond credited standout tuner Brad Personett for dialing up the strong run in the clutch, which gave Bond, the top qualifier from the inaugural race a year ago, plenty of confidence heading into Sunday.
“We had a fast car last year and we made some changes over the winter. We were trying some different stuff and then when it came to qualifying we put went back to our old stuff and lost it a little bit,” Bond said. “The manual shifting was causing me trouble, but I’ve got a good group of guys and Brad is just great. Consistency is going to be key tomorrow, but I think we can do well.”
Jason Scruggs sat out the session and finished in the second position after going 5.704 seconds at 252.76 mph on Friday and Brandon Snider, who finished second in NHRA Pro Mod last year, took fourth.
The Top Sportsman top-three went unchanged from Friday’s two qualifying sessions. Cheyenne Stanley is No. 1 spot with a 6.154-second pass, but was unable to return for Q3 after tangled parachutes caused him to end up in the sand trap on Friday. Mike Lubniewski followed in the No. 2 spot, with Derrick Brown rounding out the top-three.
Bill Skillman remained in the No. 1 spot in Ray Skillman Auto Group Factory Shootout in the Ray Skillman Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. David Barton qualified second while former Pro Stock star Mark Pawuk moved to third.
Daryl Stewart jumped to the top of the $hameless Racing Pro 632 presented by C&C Pumping qualifying order in the final session. Jimmy Pelcarsky held onto the No. 2 spot and Wes Distefano qualified third.
The Comp Eliminator No. 1 qualifier is Joe Carnasciale Jr in his I/SM ’06 Cavalier. In the Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock combo, Jeff Taylor is the No. 1 qualifier.