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March 9, 2016

Greg Anderson

Glendora, California

THE MODERATOR: Greg, with all the changes that took place in Pro Stock during the off-season, were you guys surprised about your results so early in the season, or were you guys shooting for that when you unloaded in Pomona?

GREG ANDERSON: Well, it's definitely what you shoot for when you start the project. You start working on the R&D development project but you live in fear the whole winter: How do you know what you are going to have done by the time you get Pomona is going to stack up with the rest of the class?

You're scared that you make that first run at Pomona, regardless of what you've done in preseason testing, no matter where you've been, you never know what everybody has really got until you show up at Pomona.

Yeah, we were pleasantly surprised. Certainly it was the goal, is everybody's goal to go out and have the baddest Hot Rod out there. For the last three, four, five, six years, everybody has been stuck so close together, because, you know, we've got to work on the same package forever, ever and ever and technology certainly flows from one team to another and everybody pays attention to what everybody else does.

It really has bunched up really tight and we're shaking up the rulings like this, that it's absolutely an opportunity to shake out maybe an early advantage to some teams. That's what you hope for, and it seems like that's what we've got.

So we're pleasantly surprised, very happy about it, but certainly not under the belief that it's going to stay like that. The rest of these guys are going to gain on the project, and you're learning every day with this deal. It's all so new to all of us, we really don't know what we're doing at all yet. We feel very stupid and we're learning day by day. I'm actually out testing today at zMAX, and it's just, you learn every run down the racetrack.

It's going to change. The landscape is certainly going to change as we go forward in Gainesville and Vegas, and next year's will look completely different. But it would be great to get off to a great start. And you can't have an advantage on somebody if you don't start with an advantage. So once we are able to start with an advantage, we'll see how long we can hold onto it.

THE MODERATOR: Is it almost like starting over? Do you feel like a rookie again in a sense with this new car?

GREG ANDERSON: Absolutely. You know, we just don't know much about it. We've never spent any time with any kind of fuel injection before. The whole deal with putting your motor with computer, I don't even know how to turn a computer on. Just we're kind of old school I guess. We're used to carburetors and tuning with our hands, and now you have got to do it with a laptop computer. It's more of the younger and new generation. That really wasn't us.

We didn't know what we were getting into. So we are learning day by day and we had to open our minds up and just realize we knew nothing about it and be wide open to trying to learn. So we're taking in every bit of information we can from anybody that's been willing to help, and it's been a team effort from a lot of people involved here. Yet somehow we've gotten off to a better start than the rest.

Even though we are running good compared to the pack, we certainly don't feel like we've got everything figured out. We certainly don't feel smart at fuel injection yet. Hopefully that will come down the road. Going to keep digging and keep learning and we're having fun in the meantime.

Q. A lot of the drivers consider this a, quote, major. Just what makes it a major in your opinion?
GREG ANDERSON: Well, I guess all I can think back to is when I was a kid, and I wasn't driving a race car myself. I wasn't working doing it professionally. I was doing it as a fan, going to the races with my dad. It was just Indy and Gainesville and Pomona. Those were really the three biggest ones that you heard about and that you read about. Those were the Super Bowls the major tournaments, whatever you want to call it. It just stayed that way for years and years and years.

I don't know the math numbers on it. Are they the oldest tracks we have that have the most national events at? I don't know. But right from the time I started going to the racetrack with my dad, you knew those were the special ones and those were the ones you wanted to jump in a camper or jump in a car to go cross-country to see.

Q. Does it have a bigger feel to it than some of the others because it is a major?
GREG ANDERSON: Absolutely positively. I think the first time that I won there, it felt like something special, something bigger. I'm glad we have that. I'm glad every one doesn't seem exactly the same. There's no such thing as a bad win. Obviously any win has been great but those ones that happen at the major tracks, your Indys, Gainesvilles, your Pomona, you're darned right they are special. Same with other sports, whether it's National Football teams, or NASCAR guys when they win at Daytona or Indy, it's special. And that's the way it should be. You should have some that have a little more meaning than others I guess.

I'm not 100 percent (ph) for sure I guess what the real, true meaning is, but you definitely feel the difference and you definitely feel more of a sense of accomplishment when you win one. Luckily I've been fortunate to win some of the majors, and those trophies stay up front in the trophy case all the time.

Q. When you're tuning these cars at the track with fuel injection or on the dyno, are you guys finding little gains or are you finding big games. It seems like other than the consistency you had at Pomona, it seems like the ETs are shuffling around a lot more than when they were carbureted.
GREG ANDERSON: There's absolutely bigger changes. It used to be with your carburator setup and the old-time setup we had, you would change a jet or two between polls on the dyno or even runs on the racetrack, and you would be lucky if you noticed two- or three-horsepower swing either way.

Now with this type of set up, you change one hole a couple percentage points on fuel flow, and you'll go up-and-down 20 horsepower without batting an eyelash. It's just crazy. It's just wild to see and wild to learn about it.

We know nothing yet. It just makes you feel so stupid when you make what you feel is the equivalent of a one-jet change and you lose like 20 horse. You look at each other like what happened, did the motor break? It's crazy. It's taken a little getting used to, and that's why you're seeing discrepancies at the racetrack run to run, because it's that easy to lose the tune on them. I think once you finally hone in on it and get a happy tune-up, maybe it will be easy to keep. But when you're trying to hone in on it, it's a challenge.

Q. I don't know if I'd want to hone in on it. Dumb luck seems to be working.
GREG ANDERSON: I'll take dumb luck any day over talent.

Q. You're talking about how special the Gator Nationals is. And is some of that due to, it's not one of these palatial tracks like Charlotte. It's got that old school feel and just that special feeling when you get there.
GREG ANDERSON: It does, absolutely does. It's just something special when you walk through the gates. I guess because it's been there so long and every time I've ever been to the race, like I said, whether it was with my father at a young teenage age, walking in just to watch the race.

Just the magnitude of it, just the size of the grandstands, all the amount of spectator, all the cars, more cars at that race, more people at that race, alligators in a ditch, it's just cool. Everything about it was just cool ever since I can remember. There's a lot of things that go into making a race special.

Nowadays, obviously if somebody is going to build a new race facility and want to get it on the pro schedule, they want to build a Taj Mahal like they did here at Charlotte. But that doesn't necessarily make it a first-class major race. What really does is the history of that race: The history that Gainesville has got; the history that Pomona has got; the history that Indy has got; that's what makes them special.

Q. I know from your history that you had a recent, not too recent, but a heart condition. And I recently had a heart attack by the way. Fortunately it wasn't major but I'm working on it. My question is: How do you face -- when you have a health problem and you overcome it and you go back to work, you go back to racing, you're back right in the middle of what you're actually -- I want to say you're doing not better but you're certainly doing well after your problem. Talk a little about how you faced that.
GREG ANDERSON: Well, no question, when it first happened, it was a shock, absolutely, learning that you had to have your chest opened up and have your heart completely worked on, that was a shock. Then you do that and go through the procedure and you wake up out of that and you wonder to yourself, will I ever be healthy enough to sit back in a race car. That's what I love to do, that's what I've done all my life, and without that, what the heck am I going to do?

So then you go through two to three months of sitting on a couch and trying to rehab yourself back into physical shape to be able to either go back to work, let alone get that race car. It's just a long time to think about it and to wonder: Will I ever be healthy enough to do what I used to do?

So after those three months of being on the shelf and that first time back in the race car, which was I think at the Houston race, and the first time down the racetrack, I think I asked myself 50 times strapping in the car and going down the racetrack: Am I going to be all right? Is this going to be okay? Am I still going to be able to do it?

Once I hit the finish line and pop the parachutes and everything was smooth and made the turnoff, it was like a light just went on: You know what everything is going to be fine and, I am going to be able to do this again and I think I'm going to be able to do it at a high level.

Since then, since that point, it's been full speed ahead and really have no restrictions and have no reason that I can't basically do it full speed. The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and I don't have to do anything special and I have no concerns anymore. But you're darned right, those first couple three months, you have every worry and every concern in the world if you'd ever be able to do it again.

Q. As a corollary to that, I interviewed Dr. Jerry Punch over in NASCAR. He's doing college football now. Being a doctor, he has a perspective on this. He says race car drivers, when they get injured, when they come back, they actually do better. Whether they compensate, whether they do something, whether they step up, they just have something in them; do you feel like that was helpful to you?
GREG ANDERSON: I think so. Just turning that light on and the realization, you know, I've got a second chance. I have got a new opportunity to get this right and to do it right that by rights, didn't know if I would have a chance to do it again.

It's just a mental thing I think. It makes your mind clear and it makes you more hungry to make the most of it this time, because who the heck knows when something else could happen where it puts you on the shelf permanently.

You just realize at that point that I've got to make the most of this. I've got a second lease on this deal, I've got to make the most of it. You go out and give it all you've got, and just very fortunate to be able to do it.

Q. You've talked a lot about what you felt in the car and everything. Did your team hire some special young men during the off-season to help you all work through the new electronics of these cars?
GREG ANDERSON: I don't know that we hired any young men. We did actually get some help from a man by the name of John Meany who has got a lot of experience in the fuel injection world. He's got his own company and he's wrote a lot of the software that's designed a lot of these new injection systems. He's definitely got some knowledge. And we thought, you know, we'd better do something, because know nothing.

So we were able to team up with John Meany, and he gave us some great advice on how to -- basically how to drive a laptop. That was the biggest challenge that we had. We didn't really even know how to work the numbers on a laptop. That's what he helped us out with the most.

As far as the hard parts and building all your manifold pieces and all that stuff, we just had to go to work and start building pieces and trying pieces. And we got together with the Hogan Manifold people and they helped us through that development project. Between those two people, the Hogan Manifold people and John Meany, we definitely had a little bit of help.

But it was certainly a lot of long hours by all our guys in the engine shop, building pieces and dynoing pieces and dynoing and dynoing and dynoing, and scrapping a lot of pieces and learning a little bit here and going backward three more steps that way. It's just been very interesting but we did have a little bit of help.

But the majority of it has definitely been between Jason, myself and Rob and all our engine guys at the shop, and obviously the car guys have done a great job getting the cars rigged up, too. We didn't ship our cars out to one of the chassis builders or anything to have everything retrofitted. We did everything in-house. It was just a lot of work but we took a lot of pride in it because most of everything we've done in-house.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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