After heart surgery sidelined NHRA Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson this spring - forcing him to watch his replacement, Jimmy Alund, win the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in his car - the four-time Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champion is eager to return to his home track and kick off the NHRA Countdown to the Championship at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12-14.

"It's way harder to sit on the sidelines," Anderson said of his early-season trials. "It was great in a lot of ways, but it sucked for me personally. To watch someone race your car - and win in your car - I'm not built for that."

Despite missing the first five races of the season as he recovered from surgery to repair a heart defect he'd had since birth, the Mooresville, North Carolina-based driver has raced his way back into the top 10 and is in contention to chase a fifth Pro Stock championship later this year.

With just two races remaining in the regular season, Anderson is locked in a tight battle with Jonathan Gray for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown. The top 10 drivers from all four pro categories will race in a six-race playoff, starting at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

"I really have no excuses," Anderson said. "I've got a great car. It's been getting better every race that I've been at lately. I am going to be a serious player come Countdown time. It's not going to be a big shock if I can pull it off, and like I say, at the end of it, it's going to be a good story if I can get it done."

Getting it done in the Countdown means facing some serious competition, including drivers like Erica Enders-Stevens, Allen Johnson, Anderson's teammate Jason Line, Jeg Coughlin, Dave Connelley, Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile, all of whom have already locked themselves into the Countdown. It also means getting off to a fast start at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

"We know my car can win at this race track," Anderson said. "It's had a lot of great success here in the past. The most recent race here, it won, so I have no excuses. If I don't win, it's going to be my fault."

When asked to pick who would win the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Anderson's confidence, like his heart, was strong, and he picked himself to take home the coveted Wally trophy.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say in Pro Stock Greg Anderson is going to win," he said. "I think he looks pretty hot lately. He's had a great comeback ever since he got out of the hospital. Apparently, it looks like he's got more blood going to his head since they worked on his heart because he's doing some great driving."

Fans can enjoy all of the weekend action with a three-day pass to the NHRA Carolina Nationals, with packages starting at just $99. Children 13 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult all weekend.

NHRA Carolina Nationals qualifying opens on Friday, Sept. 12, with pro sessions scheduled at 3:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Sept. 13, at 2:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14.

To purchase tickets, call zMAX Dragway at 800-455-FANS (3267) or visit For more information about NHRA, please visit

Connect with zMAX Dragway and stay up to speed with all the happenings at the Bellagio of drag strips on Facebook at and on Twitter at