At the conclusion of an intense Countdown to the Championship battle, Greg Anderson capped a whirlwind of a season with a start from the pole and a semifinals finish, while KB Titan Racing teammate Matt Hartford and his GETTRX-branded Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro raced to the final round, ending the season on a strong note for the powerhouse team and setting the tone for another tremendous go at Pro Stock in 2024.
Anderson’s HendrickCars.com Chevy was the strongest car on the lot at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, and his 6.492-second pass stood tall as low elapsed time of the event. With his strong performance throughout the Countdown and on raceday at the In-N-Out Pomona Dragstrip, the 103-time Pro Stock victor finished No. 2 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock points.
“This weekend, my HendrickCars.com Chevrolet was the best car I’ve had all year,” said Anderson, who earned the 124th No. 1 qualifying position and snuck up right behind the In-N-Out Pomona Dragstrip track record of 6.480 in doing so. “I’m just sorry we’re out of races. We’ll have to lick our wounds and come back stronger next year. The good news is, we ended on a high note, and this KB Titan Racing team can leave here with heads held high knowing we did all we possibly could.”
After claiming low ET in the first and second rounds of eliminations with a 6.501 to beat Mason McGaha and a 6.521 to top Bo Butner, Anderson’s very uncharacteristic red-light start (by just -.011 of a second) ended his day in the semifinals next to Aaron Stanfield. Anderson, however, capped the season with another great journey down the dragstrip in testament to the abundant KBT horsepower packed under the hood and a promise of good things to come. His final trip of the season down the quarter-mile came out to 6.506.
“I’m proud of the guys and very disappointed that I dropped the ball in the semifinals, but there are still so many positives to look at for the weekend,” said Anderson. “That one negative guess cost us the race, but that’s drag racing, as they say. You get one shot at it, and you have to get it perfect every time. It’s on me, and I accept the blame, but I’m proud of the effort and extremely excited about the way we were able to make our racecars run this weekend.”
Hartford, starting from the No. 7 spot on Sunday, threw down a 6.532, 210.90 to shut down KBT’s Dallas Glenn in the opening round. Glenn was first to launch by .005-second, but a 6.549, 209.75 was not quite enough, and Hartford got the win by .039.
His second-round victory was another close one – this time by just .007 – after leaving first by two-thousandths next to KBT teammate Kyle Koretsky and tripping the timers with a 6.545, 211.30 to 6.550, 209.85. The win light was a ticket to the semifinals, where Hartford was tasked with the challenge of beating Erica Enders, who had obtained the championship with a first-round victory over her tire-shaking teammate, Fernando Cuadra.
In the semis, Hartford was unchallenged as his opponent chattered the tires and he sailed away to the second-quickest pass of the round in the heat of the day, behind only Anderson. Hartford clocked a 6.549, 210.64 to advance to the 17th final round of his career, fifth of the year, and second during the high-stakes Countdown playoffs.
In the money round, Aaron Stanfield was away first and kept ahead for the win, (.031) 6.534, 208.91 to Hartford’s quicker but narrowly missing (.048) 6.519, 210.14. The margin of victory was a stunning .002.
Although the ending was unsatisfactory for Hartford, the season was his best to date. Through much of the season, Hartford was a threat for race wins and the championship, even taking over the points lead with back-to-back wins at the prestigious U.S. Nationals and at the first race of the Countdown to the Championship at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. In 2023, Hartford earned not only his first low qualifier award, but also three more poles in his Eddie Guarnaccia-tuned entry powered by KB Titan, and the combination of crew, crew chief, and horsepower proved dynamic with three wins, including one during the Countdown. Prior to this year, Hartford had never claimed more than one trophy in a season, and his previous best finish was fifth place.
KB Titan Racing finished the year holding down five positions in the esteemed top 10: In addition to Anderson and Hartford finishing second and third, Glenn, Koretsky, and Deric Kramer locked into the No. 6, 7, and 8 spots.
Notably, Anderson has claimed one of the top two point-finishes in 14 seasons, five times earning the right to wear No. 1 on his racecar. Buoyed by an incredibly strong team and surrounded by some of the best drivers in the class right there under the KBT awnings, Anderson is eager to get back to Mooresville, N.C., and get to work.
“The goal for us in the off-season will be to make our stuff better yet,” said Anderson, who sits at the helm of a team that has won 187 Pro Stock trophies – including 11 in 18 races this year – and nine championships. “There is no doubt, this class is tougher than it’s ever been. There are more good drivers, more good cars, and more good teams than there ever was before. The competition just keeps going up and up and up, so we’ll have to make gains over the winter if we want to have a good year next year.
“We’ve got three months to try to get better as a race team, and that’s what we’re going to do. There were too many positives this weekend to write it off as a bad one. We’re leaving Pomona with our heads high, and we’ll smile for the next few months when we’re working as hard as we can possibly work.”
The freshly minted NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series will kick off in Gainesville with the historic NHRA Gatornationals, March 7-10, 2024.