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.”
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.”