Pro Stock driver Matt Hartford played the spoiler Sunday at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals Sunday in Seattle.
And, he was all right with that fact.
Hartford, on a holeshot, beat Greg Anderson keeping Anderson from sweeping the famed Western Swing – Denver and Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle.
Hartford clocked a 6.606-second elapsed time at 209.33 mph to Anderson’s quicker 6.596-second ET at 210.31 mph. The difference was at the starting line as Hartford had a .023 reaction time compared to Anderson’s .054 reaction time.
This was Hartford’s second career national event win and first this season. Hartford lost to Anderson in the finals at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver July 21.
Hartford’s victory parade Sunday consisted of wins over points leader Bo Butner, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., Deric Kramer and Anderson. Hartford is running Elite Motorsports engines.
“I’ve said for years you have to qualify well if you want to have good success on Sunday,” Hartford said. “Up until the last couple of years we really had not qualified well and we had a lot of first-round losses. This year we have qualified well except for one race earlier in the year and this race. We qualified ninth at this race, which is the worst place to qualify. You’re going to be the first pair out and you’re not going to have lane choice and if you’re lucky enough to win that round, you have to run the No. 1 qualifier in the second round if he gets through. You’re not looking for a long day by the odds if you qualify ninth. However, they say we don’t race dynos on paper we race them out here on the dragstrip and 1,320-feet later we had a win light against Bo, which really set the momentum for the day.”
Following his victory against Butner, Hartford beat Coughlin and then he won a pedal fest against Kramer in the semifinals.
“Jeg did shake a little bit I think he went 6.95, and we made a really nice run (6.578) against Jeg,” Hartford said. “We knew we couldn’t back down. First of all, Jeg is one of the best drivers in the history of the class and they have a really good program, that being said, we are not scared of them. We went up there, not only trying to win, but go for lane choice if we could win. We made a good run, but not as good as Kramer, so we lost lane choice going into the (semifinals). If you had watched what was going on the right lane certainly did not seem like it was going to be the lane with the winning rounds.”
Hartford, who drives the Total Seal Piston Rings / CIP1 Pro Stock Camaro, discussed what his strategy was in the semis against Kramer.
“We pulled back quite a bit, thinking we pulled back enough to get through the right lane and knowing that Mike Hiner (Kramer’s crew chief) is aggressive and Deric is good on the tree,” Hartford said. “(Hiner) is a good friend of ours and I’m not going to say we worked together, but we certainly over the years have raced a lot together and traded a lot of stories back and forth. To be able to race him and beat him on a pedal fest was pretty awesome.”
Anderson was 10-0 against Hartford in elimination rounds, including Denver last month.
“Greg Anderson is obviously one of the best ever who raced in the class,” Hartford said. “He’s closing in on some pretty monumental records, and Greg beat me 10 times out of 10 times. I have told him he’s like a slot machine, I’m just going to keep pulling the handle sooner or later, he’s going to pay out. I think this payout here probably hurts him worse than if it would have been anywhere else because to sweep the Swing would be an accomplishment that’s incredible.
One again, I go back to we went up there knowing we had to go A to B and whoever leaves first should win that race because he only went 59 in the semis and we felt we could go 59 or 60 in the finals. We figured we had a good chance. The driver had to be on his game.”
After his victory, Hartford moved up from fifth to fourth in the season points chase.
“I think that the support we have from Total Seal and CIP1 and all of our sponsors that we have the equipment to go out there and run for a championship,” Hartford said. “Elite certainly provides us with engines that are definitely capable of winning races. What we need to do is just continue to not make mistakes, like we did in Sonoma, and I just have to continue to drive well. If we can put all that together, I think we can have a white hat at the end of the year and there would be nothing sweeter than to be able to pass those around.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019