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NHRA: Anderson Seeks Repeat Performance at Texas

24 April 1998

ENNIS, Texas -- Nearly one year has past since Randy Anderson last won an NHRA Funny Car race. That's 365 days. Some 8,760 hours. A whopping 525,600 minutes. That's way too much time between victory circle celebrations for Anderson, a driver who became very accustomed to winning Federal-Mogul Funny Car events from 1992-96.

But there's good news on the horizon for Anderson and his Parts America Pontiac Firebird team. They'll be returning to the site of their last victory circle celebration very soon. Anderson was convincing in his second-career victory on the NHRA circuit when he upset John Force at the Texas Motorplex last May. The young driver won the race on a holeshot.

While Anderson isn't one to put much faith in superstitions, he does hope the good memories he still replays over and over in his mind can give him the confidence and momentum he needs to break his victory circle drought at the second annual Castrol Lone Star Nationals presented by HiLo/O'Reilly Auto Parts, April 30-May 3 at the Texas Motorplex. The $1.7 million race is the seventh of 22 events in the $30 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

While Anderson finished sixth in the Winston standings after a strong rookie performance last year, he and his Parts America team are currently seventh in the standings after a hit or miss early season, which includes two semi-final appearances, a second round loss and two first round losses. Anderson feels the team is capable of much more.

"I think the big difference this season is our expectations," Anderson said. "Last year we expected to have ups and downs. Our goal was to finish in the top-10. Our expectations this year are a lot different. We expect to finish No. 3 or better and we're coming to that time of the year where last year, we made our move. Things are really coming together for us. In the last few races we've gained a lot of good information. I think things are really coming around. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Anderson says that's due to some very good efforts this season, and some excellent test sessions. He says the team is working hard, but being very careful not to press too hard.

"I think you can be over-anxious as a driver," Anderson said. "We had some consistency problems with the car at the end of last year that cost us. We've made some changes to the car and are setting it up a little differently now. So far this season the car has responded. We've had our best 60-foot times ever, our times to 330 are good and the car hasn't been shaking as much. I think we've worked through this thing pretty well. You can become too anxious, but I think we've been pretty patient. At least as much as you can be with a 6,000 horsepower race car."

He knows if he's going to successfully defend his title he'll have to hold off Force once again. Other top contenders will be current points leader Cruz Pedregon, Chuck Etchells, Team Winston's Whit Bazemore and Force teammate Tony Pedregon.

"I wouldn't say my chances are any better there because I've won there than any other track," he said. "I feel like our consistency will be better because it's such a good race track. But that'll be true for everybody because the same conditions will apply to everybody. I think everybody loves to race at Dallas because you know going in that records can fall, even if the weather conditions aren't ideal. The track is that good."


* Schedule: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. May 1. Qualifying continues at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 2. Final professional eliminations start at 11 a.m. May 3. Federal- Mogul competition starts at noon April 30.

* Tickets: Tickets are available for the Lone Star Nationals. Call the Texas Motorplex, (972) 878-2641, or Ticketmaster for ticket information.

* On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day final round coverage and highlights of the Lone Star Nationals on May 3, starting at 11 p.m. (CDT). There will also be two hours of qualifying highlights and live first round coverage on May 3, starting at 10:30 a.m. (CDT).