NHRA: Greg Anderson looks to sweep Western Swing


KENT, Washington – Greg Anderson made history in 2004 when he became the first and only driver in NHRA’s Pro Stock class to sweep the Western Swing, a feat he has the opportunity to replicate this afternoon.

Should the 58-year-old Minnesotan win today’s Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, he will become the only driver in NHRA history to sweep the swing twice in the same class, an achievement he has only recently realized the true significance of.

“Back when I first did it in 2004, I didn’t think much of it because we were winning a lot of races that year,” Anderson told NBC Sports. “But then when you go through a 15-year dry spell where nobody has been able to do it again, you begin to realize how difficult it really is.

“I probably never envisioned I’d be back having the chance to do it again because there’s so much parity in the class now and nobody really goes on a streak like that because there’s too much competition.”

Greg Anderson. Photo: NHRA

But sweeping the swing isn’t just a challenge for Pro Stock drivers. It remains an equally difficult challenge for drivers in NHRA’s other classes.

All-in-all, the swing has only been swept seven times in Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series competition, and Anderson believes a major factor in the difficulty of accomplishing said feat lies in the unique climates all three racetracks lie in.

“You first go to Denver, which has a 5,000 foot altitude and the cars lose 25% of power, so they don’t want to do anything right,” Anderson said. “It’s just a son-of-a-gun to make the cars run fast in Denver, so that’s a challenge.

“Then you go right to sea level at Sonoma where the air is just wonderful, the cars make a lot of power and racetrack is great, and you can usually run record times. Then you come up here in Seattle the following week where it could be 60 degrees and raining or 85-90 degrees and as humid as could be and the cars can’t hook no matter what they do.

“They’re three completely different races, and that’s kinda why it’s been so difficult for anybody to win all three.”

Winning the Western Swing may be a challenging feat, but Anderson states that he personally enjoys the extra pressure the three-race stretch presents.

“It seems like for whatever reason, every time we’ve gotten into those situations where there’s extra pressure, we seem to do our best,” Anderson said. “I welcome the extra pressure. I like it that way.”


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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)