NHRA: Anderson Feeling Momentum Building after Dunn Addition
15 September 1998READING, Pa. -- Randy Anderson can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
A runner-up finish for Anderson's Parts America Funny Car team at the prestigious U.S. Nationals put a shot of hope back into a team that has endured the slump of slumps in 1998. Anderson's nightmare has included six first round losses, two DNQs and a missed race due to illness.
In the competitive world of NHRA Winston Drag Racing, slumps can be lethal. That's why Anderson is excited about the remedy he's found to put the team back on the road to victory.
Anderson's medicine man is drag racing legend Jim Dunn.
"I'm sleeping well at night finally," Anderson said. "Obviously it's been a frustrating year. We all continued to work hard and we all held our heads high despite what was happening. It was getting discouraging because we weren't getting anywhere and weren't getting any results. I asked dad if I could call Jim Dunn. As soon as he came on board I knew it was a big plus. There was no question in my mind that things would change for our team. I've been in this sport all of my life and won championships in alcohol funny car and I could tell there was a change needed."
The next change the team is looking for is to replace that zero in the win column with a victory. They'll have an opportunity to do it at the 14th annual Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals, Sept. 17- 20 at Maple Grove Raceway. The $1.6 million race is the 17th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Anderson's best finish prior to the U.S. Nationals was a semi-final appearance at Richmond, Va.'s Pennzoil Nationals. Indeed, it has been a long summer.
"There's no question that it's a different car and different team than it was the first half of the season," Anderson said. "I think the performance is showing and I think you can see the enthusiasm on my face as well as the entire team. Jim has brought a lot of knowledge in here and he's getting things straightened out and I'm getting the feeling back like I had early last year when we were winning and very competitive."
Following the team's effort at the U.S. Nationals, Anderson can't wait to get to the next event.
"Maple Grove has had a history of incredible ETs and speeds," Anderson says. "The weather there normally at this time of the year produces absolutely incredible air. The track surface is all new from what I understand and if the surface lives up to its billing we're going to see records fall there. Quite honestly I can't wait to get there because Jim hasn't been with us when we've been in real fast conditions. Even though he's been making the car go quick and fast, I can't wait to see how quick we'll go. I really believe if we get in the right conditions we're going to be very capable of getting in the 4.80s before the year is over and that's what I'm looking for."
The two-time Federal-Mogul Funny Car champion says with an increase in performance, everything else will fall into place.
"Obviously at the end of the season you'd like to be in the top 10, that's what everybody is shooting for," he said. "Honestly I'm not looking at the points right now. We just need to go out and take it one race at a time. We ran extremely good and consistent in qualifying at the U.S. Nationals and then had a great race and clicked off some four second runs. The points will come if we continue to focus all of our attention on performance."
And most of that focus will be centered around Dunn's tuning expertise.
"Jim has turned this thing around in three races, but he's put in a lot of hard work," Anderson said. "After Seattle the car went back to California. We completely stripped the car and started over. He straightened out the chassis. The whole car has completely changed. It has his clutch management system. It's a totally different hot rod now. I think the performance shows."
Most would chalk up a season like Anderson has endured under the heading 'sophomore blues.' Anderson feels confident that the slump is over.
"From my rookie year in 1992 I haven't raced a season where I didn't win at least a couple of national events," Anderson said. "This year has been by far my worst year ever. But it could turn out to be my best. I'm very optimistic and I believe that we're really a better team than we've ever been. You can see the team's confidence level rising. I have a good sense and feeling about where we're headed with this program and I couldn't be happier."