Drag Illustrated Issue 180, January / February 2023 | Page 96

I ’ m telling you ; we suck at Reading . Greg [ Anderson ] and I went to the finals in ‘ 21 . He obviously won that one .
But this year – and all the years – going into Reading , I ’ m like , “ If I can just get out of here clean with a semifinal , I think that ’ s great because Reading is not good to us .” We came out and ran really well , and we won the race .
That was another one of my goals that I set last January – I wanted to win at some of the tracks that I hadn ’ t won at yet . Sonoma has been on that list for 18 years . I ’ ve always wanted to win Sonoma . It ’ s one of my favorite places to go to , and that ’ s another track that we were horrible at . So , to be able to win there and to be able to win at Reading was definitely huge .
But going back to the Countdown , we had a substantial lead after Indy and it all goes away because of the Countdown . So , we were like , “ All right , let ’ s don ’ t let this stop us . We ’ re going to swing for the fences , and our goal is to get that cool belt like Steve-O [ Torrence ] got when he swept the Countdown a few years back .” We came close , but to start off on the right foot , to get that points lead and to just keep it , and that ’ s exactly what we did , it was huge .
From Maple Grove , you went on to win three of the next four races , clinching the title in Las Vegas . What were you feeling in that moment when you secured the title ?
Having the lead that we had , I didn ’ t love the feeling [ going into Vegas ]. I like to play defense . It ’ s not our championship . We have to go out there and get it . We had such a lead , and everybody ’ s like , “ She could lock it up here . She could
clinch .” That made me nervous like I was nervous for my first championship . That weekend , it felt exactly like 2014 . Being that it ’ s our fifth , you would think that would go away , and it just never goes away . We wanted to just do our best , and Vegas has been so great to us in the past . I think that was our ninth national event victory in Vegas and the most for any pro team , so that was pretty cool as well .
But to be able to clinch before we went to Pomona was really amazing , and I don ’ t know how else to describe it . The butterflies were running wild for sure , and trying to control your mental toughness and your stomach , for that matter , was a battle all weekend .
You ended the season with 10 wins , beating your previous season-best of nine in 2015 .
Almost a quarter of your career Pro Stock wins in one season with a round-win record of 55-9 . How rewarding was that season for all the effort that you put in and that your team puts in ?
Again , I think it speaks volumes for our entire operation . I have the best guys , and that ’ s something that Richard ’ s done a great job at . He ’ s a good leader in that aspect of being able to put the best people in the world in the positions that they excel at and giving us all the tools we need to be successful .
I would ’ ve never thought when I started racing Pro Stock that we would ’ ve won the nine in 2015 and won those two championships back-to-back . But to be able to go out and top that , it just shows you that the sky is the limit for this group .
Again , in Pomona , I should have beat Greg in the final . That was my fault . I was late and we lost on a holeshot . But it was cool because it was [ KB Racing team owner ] Ken Black ’ s last race before his retirement . For Greg to be able to secure that victory for Ken was pretty meaningful , as much as I would ’ ve loved to kick his ass .
But another fun stat side note was Brian Lohnes told me that when we won our 10th , we became one of just three drivers to have double-digit wins in Pro Stock [ in one season ]. The other two were Darrell Alderman and Greg Anderson , so I thought that was pretty neat to have my name mentioned alongside of theirs .
When I set my goals last January , I thought a good , safe goal would be to win five races and contend for a championship , and we doubled what we set out for . I think this year the sky ’ s the limit as well . Same group , same people , same power , same sponsors , and here we go .
96 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 180