The vacation of sorts is over for drivers in the Pro Stock class of the NHRA. Things are going to get a lot rougher from here on out.
The reason? Former Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson will make his return from off-season surgery at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway.
Anderson has missed the first seven races of the 2014 season after offseason surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart. He was cleared by a panel of doctors Monday and will resume racing on Friday.
“It was very difficult to sit out those first five races,” Anderson said in an NHRA media release. “We racers tend to think that everything in life is all about drag racing. Nothing is more important. We live it, breath it, eat it, sleep it. And sometimes we think we’re invincible – but I found out firsthand that we’re not.”
Along those same lines, Anderson has developed a new appreciation for not only his own health, but also in just how serious his condition and recovery wound up being.
“In the beginning, I thought the surgery and recovery would be a simple deal, a piece of cake, that I would bounce right back,” Anderson admitted. “Turns out it was a huge deal and a new chapter for me. They fixed me up, but there was still a challenge ahead and a lot of pain to go through.
“You realize you aren’t invincible when you go through something like that. You have to learn to be patient, take your time, go slow and follow the doctor’s orders, and that’s a whole new game for a guy like me.
“Somehow, I learned how to be patient, healed up in the proper amount of time, and now it’s time to go racing again. I couldn’t be more excited to get back behind the wheel of my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.”
Getting back to drag racing, particularly at Houston, could ultimately wind up being the best medicine for Anderson, who is a two-time winner at Royal Purple Raceway.
“To be honest with you, I can’t remember ever going to a race this happy, this positive and feeling this good,” Anderson said. “I guess it’s kind of a new lease on life for me; I rolled back my odometer, so to speak. Now it’s time to get back to racing. That’s what we love, that’s where we feel at home.”
Anderson has 74 national event wins and is a four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion. Teammate Jason Line is the defending PS champ in this weekend’s event, as well.
Anderson was replaced behind the wheel for the first seven races by European Pro Stock champ Jimmy Alund, who ultimately made his swan song appearance in Anderson’s car at the last race, winning the Pro Stock class at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.
“I’m excited to get back in the same car that Jimmy won with in Charlotte,” Anderson said. “The guys have done such a fantastic job with this car, and I don’t just mean Jason Line, Rob Downing and the entire crew that works on it.
“Jimmy has done a fantastic job of driving the car and also of helping the guys find a happy spot for that racecar to run in. My hat’s off to the entire team and Jimmy Alund. That car is working very, very nicely, and I found that out firsthand yesterday when we made a few test runs. It’s like it’s on autopilot. It’s smooth as glass.”
Follow me @JerryBonkowski