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NHRA: Consistency the Key for Anderson Repeat at Fram Nationals

9 April 1998

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Some call it the sophomore jinx.

Randy Anderson, pumped up and ready to go following a very successful freshman debut in Funny Car last season, won't accept that. He calls it a consistency problem.

After four races in 1998, Anderson's Parts America Funny Car team is still looking for the winning combination it used last year to take two victories, advance to four final rounds and finish an impressive sixth in the Winston championship standings.

What better medicine than a trip back to the place where it all started for the Ontario, Calif. racer one year ago.

Last season Anderson came to Atlanta Dragway with a pair of first round losses, a DNQ and a second round defeat. But in one magical weekend, everything came together. Anderson defeated Funny Car kingpin John Force in the final, and his team gained much needed confidence and momentum.

He'll try to duplicate that effort at the 18th annual Fram Nationals, April 16-19 at Atlanta Dragway. The $1.6-million race is the fifth of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

"Obviously that was a really good race for us and we'll always have great memories from that first win," Anderson said. "But I've won some races at Atlanta in Alcohol Funny Car, too. It's always seemed to be a good track for us. It's always nice going back to a place where you've had some success to get things going."

Anderson says each track in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series has its own little secrets. The Georgia quarter-mile is no different.

"Atlanta is the type of track that is going to be loose at the top end," he said. "You can't get too greedy there because if you do you'll smoke the tires about 700-800 feet down track. It doesn't allow you to throw a violent combination at it like Gainesville or Houston does. You really have to be smart there and not put too much clutch into the setup."

However, Anderson realizes that while some tracks provide a certain mental comfort zone, the ability to win races rests within the team's execution.

"The main thing we need to work on is our consistency," Anderson said. "The car hasn't been repeating. Everybody who is winning out here has been consistent. That's the biggest thing that we need to work on right now to get our Parts America Pontiac Firebird making the kind of laps that we want. We're in about the same situation now that we were last year. Hopefully we can have some of the same results coming up."

* Atlanta dominator: Seven-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion John Force has shown a knack for being successful at Atlanta Dragway over the years. The Castrol GTX Ford Mustang driver has made eight final round appearances at the track, including a stretch of four straight victories from 1992- 1995.

In the last two seasons, Force has lost to a pair of newcomers to the category, teammate Tony Pedregon in 1996 and Randy Anderson in 1997.