Pontiac's Jason Line Heads To BIR Looking for Perfect Homecoming Minnesota Native Returns to Familiar Surroundings in First Place Click here to download high resolution image BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 8, 2006 - There was a time not very long ago ...
Pontiac's Jason Line Heads To BIR Looking for Perfect Homecoming Minnesota Native Returns to Familiar Surroundings in First Place Click here to download high resolution image
BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 8, 2006 - There was a time not very long ago when Jason Line probably never considered the possibility of being a Pro Stock competitor on the NHRA POWERade tour. Now the driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO returns to his drag-racing roots, Brainerd International Raceway and the 25th annual Lucas Oil Nationals on Aug. 11 - 13, as the series points leader. Line will head home to Minnesota looking to continue his winning ways as he deftly pursues his first POWERade Pro Stock title.
"It's nice to be able to head back home in first place," said Line. "My dad is especially excited. He was really hoping for this and it's going to be a lot of fun. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be leading the NHRA Pro Stock standings - not in a million years. When I actually get home and see my old friends, the guys I used to bracket race with, and run Stock and Super Stock with, I think it's going to sink in a little bit more. I owe it all, though, to Ken Black, Summit Racing, Pontiac, all the sponsors, Greg (Anderson) and my teammates who make it possible. The guys are doing a great job on the racecar and I'm just fortunate to be able to drive it."
The 37-year-old Line's recent performance on the just completed three-race Western Swing has helped to move him around teammate Greg Anderson and into first-place for the first time in his career. At the Mile High Nationals in Denver, the 2004 NHRA Rookie of the Year took over the lead position for the first time this season when he was runner-up to Chevy Cobalt driver Dave Connolly. A final-round victory over V. Gaines at Sonoma (Calif.), Line's third in 2006, helped extend his lead to 64 points over second-place Anderson, 122 points over third-place Connolly and 188 points over fourth-place Jim Yates.
"Our performance on at least two of the three races was certainly encouraging, and personally, it was the best Western Swing I've ever had," said Line. "It shows that the KB Racing team has a pretty good shot at winning the championship again this year which makes going to Brainerd that much more exciting. At the same time, there are a lot of good teams behind both Greg and myself who are keeping up the pressure - Yates, Connolly, Kurt (Johnson), (Mike) Edwards, all of those guys. We have to win it out and we managed to do that in Sonoma. Either way, leading the points or chasing the leader is okay with me. I haven't led long enough to really get a feel for what that's like, so ask me again in a couple of races. The bottom line is that you have to win rounds and we managed to do that in Sonoma.
"This Summit Racing Pontiac is definitely the best car I've ever driven. I'm the most comfortable in it, and performance-wise, it's second to none as far as other cars I've raced over the years. The Sonoma weekend was big for the whole team in general because we have Greg's (Anderson) car running just as good, if not better, than mine. That's one of the things the KB Racing team has prided itself on in the past - getting our two Pontiacs to run with the same kind of winning performance. We hadn't done that during the first half of the season, and at Sonoma, we turned the corner, with plenty of good things to expect from both cars."
Line grew up in nearby Wright, Minn., about 90 minutes northeast of Brainerd, and as such, he is certainly no stranger to the BIR winner's circle. Line won national events in Stock eliminator at BIR in both 1992 and 1997, and in 1993, he was the NHRA Stock eliminator national champion.
"When I started racing at Brainerd in the mid-'80s, I didn't even have a driver's license yet," said Line. "I was 15 and had what they call in Minnesota a 'Farmer's License.' If you lived on a farm you could drive a car or a truck in the daytime within 20 miles of your home, and that was all that I had. When I pulled up to the gate for my first race they never asked me for a driver's license, so I figured we would go for it."
After spending seven years as a dyno operator at Gibbs Racing (where he was a part of that organization's two NASCAR Winston Cup championships with Bobby Labonte in 2000 and Tony Stewart in 2002), Line joined Ken Black Racing in 2003 as the driver of its second Pontiac Pro Stock Car. In 2004, Line won four national events, advanced to eights finals, captured 42 eliminator rounds and finished second in the POWERade points standings behind Anderson, which was good enough to earn NHRA Rookie of the Year honors.
Shrugging off any talk of a sophomore jinx, Line scored his second straight top-three finish in 2005, and his four wins equaled his previous year's total. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver captured his first victory of the season at Gainesville (Fla.) in March, and then went on to blister the competition in June with wins at Chicago and Englishtown before picking up his fourth and final victory of the year at the second Chicago meet in September. A comparatively slow start in 2006 had Line sitting as far back as eighth in the standings after a first-round loss at the Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., in March. But a win at Bristol (Tenn.) in April, a third straight victory at Englishtown (N.J.), combined with seven round wins and two final-round appearances on the Western Swing has helped to complete Line's slow crawl back to the front of the pack.
"Everyone on our KB Racing team comes together to accomplish a single goal and that's to win races," said Line. "We're one team with two race cars and regardless of who wins, whether it's Greg or myself, the guys do whatever it takes to get the job done. At the same time, we have fun doing it. We get along and have pretty good chemistry, and you need that if you're going to be successful long-term."
Pontiac leads the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings with 2,740 points. Chevrolet is in second place with 1,840 points and Dodge is third with 1,620 points.
Line's win at Sonoma, his third this season, was the 167thall-time for Pontiac in NHRA Pro Stock competition and the eighth this year for the GTO. Mike Edwards has two wins this year in a GTO, Jim Yates has one, Warren Johnson has one and Greg Anderson has one.
Chevy Cobalt driver Dave Connolly is closing in on 100 career round wins. With 99 already tallied during a relatively young career that began with the '03 season, the 23-year-old Ohio native needs just one more to reach the century mark.
Greg Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to a national-record elapsed time of 6.631 seconds at the series' last event at Infineon Raceway. It marks the fourth time in his career, and the fourth straight season, that Anderson has established a new national e.t. mark. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver secured national e.t. and mph records in May 2003 at Englishtown (N.J). and has held both ever since.
ACDelco Chevy Cobalt driver Kurt Johnson is the defending Pro Stock champion at BIR. Johnson defeated Greg Stanfield in last year's final round to claim his third career victory at this venue (1997,2000, 2005). Among active drivers, Warren Johnson has the most wins with four (1984, 1993, 1995-96), Dave Connolly won in 2004, Greg Anderson in 2003 and Tom Martino in 1998. Jim Yates captured his first career victory at BIR in 1994.
Warren Johnson holds both the e.t. and top-speed track records at Brainerd set during last year's event. Johnson's GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO established both ends of the track record with a 6.698 e.t. at 206.57 mph. Johnson was the No. 1 qualifier for the 2005 event.
Tony Pedregon continues to inch his way up to the front of the NHRA Funny Car standings. The driver of the Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo is now in third place in the standings with 948 points, and has not lost a first-round matchup in nine races. Tommy Johnson Jr. is in seventh place in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 824 points, Cruz Pedregon is ninth in a Chevrolet with 640 points and Del Worsham is 10th in a Chevrolet with 635 points. Ron Capps leads the Funny Car standings with 1,139 points.
-credit: gm racing