DRO: But you were getting more comfortable.

Anderson: Yeah I was getting more comfortable. Things were getting better and the next year I moved on to a position with George Marnell as his crew chief and the races that Troy wanted to run, we got a motor from George, just like we had been doing previously with Mark. We were using Bob Ingall’s motors. That was sort of a tie in; you go work on their car and in the meantime help them race this year. I’ll foot the bill for the travel and the motor rental and whatever it takes, and you’ll still work for them and drive my car, so that’s how that worked.
In that year with George, Ken Black was a partner with George. I worked 2001 as a crew chief on George’s car and drove George’s second car, which was the black Firebird and we won two races, at Bristol and Indy.

DRO: Is that when you first met Ken Black? (Editor’s note: Ken Black is the owner of Vegas General Construction, Anderson’s primary sponsor before he signed on with Summit Racing Equipment shortly after this interview was taped.)

Anderson: Yeah, things were really progressing then and getting better and that’s where I met Ken and Ken decided, “I’ve been doing this deal with George for six years and really never had any success, any race wins. Then this knucklehead comes in here and within the first year with our backup car he wins the biggest race of the year. Maybe I need to start something with this guy.” That’s how it all transpired. It was kind of a rough deal for George because at the end of the year Ken told him he was going to go his separate way and start his own team and he was going to take me as a driver. So George kinda’ felt stabbed in the back because Ken took me away from him.

But Ken had done it for six years already for George and he was really on his last year. He was ready to retire; he had had enough and had spent enough money and when this all happened Ken’s son got interested. He was the one that convinced Ken to go on his own and start his own team. It really wasn’t Ken’s decision on his own.

He had nothing against George and I surely didn’t try to steal Ken away from George; it was all their deal and they begged me to come drive their car. In 2002 we started up our own team with

Ken Black Jr. and Sr. as team owners. We bought all new equipment and new racecars and moved to Charlotte and set up a shop in part of the Jerico Transmissions building.

DRO: What made you choose Charlotte?

Anderson: I moved to Charlotte because where I was living in Jacksonville, NC, it was on the coast where there’s not even a freeway within an hour from there. It was too hard to drive in and out of and too hard to fly in and out of. We had to drive two hours to Raleigh just to get an airplane. It was just too hard getting in and out of the city; you couldn’t find any kind of racing part around town; and every time you needed something you had to call around the country and get it shipped in next day or two-day or whatever it took. I finally came to the conclusion that if I was going to do this full time and for a living and do it right, I needed to be somewhere more centrally located where I can have access to race parts.

One of the considerations was Atlanta because I had several good years there with Warren. It was a good place to race from, Indy was a good place, or Charlotte was a good place, and Charlotte happened to be closer to my wife’s family so we elected to come here. When I came here I got lucky with who I ran into with Jason Line and Joe Hornick, my two head engine builders. I met them by accident.

They worked for Joe Gibbs Racing and heard that a drag racer came to town, so they came over and met me one night just to see the operation because they are old drag racers. They were working in Winston Cup then, but finally, when a drag racer came to town they had an interest again. That’s where it all started with them. They’ve been great for me; they have great knowledge from their years of working in the Winston Cup world with the big budget they’ve got over there. It’s really been great for me. This location has ended up being good for a lot of reasons, not just the travel coming in and out of here.

DRO: How did it feel to finally be a full-time Pro Stock racer?

Anderson: It was great. The first year with Ken Black Jr. and Sr. I won two races, had several runner ups, and finished third in points, so obviously we were on the right track. I had a great team owner who really didn’t try to scrimp on things. We didn’t squander money; we didn’t throw a lot of money away; but he spent what it took to do the thing.

The next year I completely changed my crew. I brought in Rob Downing and Jeff Perley. I had had Mike Stryker and Pat Barrett, who were both Warren Johnson disciples, just like I was. They were great guys, smart guys, and they were great car tuners and track tuners, but for some reason we just didn’t gel. We didn’t hang out together or socialize together; the chemistry just wasn’t there. We had finished third and everybody saw how we got better as the year went on and that we were going to be a heck of a threat the next year and then I completely changed the whole team for the next year. It was a risky move and a lot of people did not understand it, but the chemistry was not there and I didn’t see that it was going to be there so I made the change.

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