Englishtown: GM Racing final summary

Pontiac's Jason Line Takes NHRA SuperNationals Pro Stock Crown - Chevrolet's Del Worsham Leads Funny Car Standings ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. June 20, 2004 - Jason Line picked up his second Pro Stock victory of the season today at the NHRA...

Pontiac's Jason Line Takes NHRA SuperNationals Pro Stock Crown - Chevrolet's Del Worsham Leads Funny Car Standings

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. June 20, 2004 - Jason Line picked up his second Pro Stock victory of the season today at the NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, driving his Pontiac Grand Am past ACDelco Chevy Cavalier driver Kurt Johnson in an all-GM final round. Line's successful effort this afternoon also gave Pontiac its 135th all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the NHRA.

Line came into the Sunday eliminator with his Pontiac Grand Am qualified in the No. 3 spot. The 34-year-old Wright, Minn., native, and current North Carolina resident, defeated Kenny Koretsky in round one, Larry Morgan in round two and Steve Johns in the semifinals before facing Johnson's red, white and blue Chevrolet in the finals.

Kurt Johnson entered today's meet qualified fifth and knocked out a formidable list of former NHRA champions that included Jeg Coughlin in round one, Jim Yates in round two and Darrell Alderman in round three.

Although both cars in the championship were evenly matched, Johnson's Chevrolet earned lane choice by .004 (thousandths) of a second for the title round. The Pontiac Grand Am launched first though with a .028 reaction time (to Johnson's .041 start), and never relinquished the lead, crossing the finish line in 6.761 seconds at 203.58 mph. Kurt Johnson's Chevrolet was bearing down hard at the end, but it wasn't enough, breaking the timing beams with a 6.771 e.t. at 204.29 mph. Line's margin of victory was .023 of a second.

"The biggest surprise of the day is Greg (Anderson) losing in the first round," said Line. "Not so much me winning, although I am stunned the second one came this quick. My first win was great, but it was a little bittersweet because I beat Greg in the final, and it ended his quest to win six in a row, which would have been quite an accomplishment. This time I didn't need to worry about it. Greg was right there rooting me on and helped prepare this Pontiac Grand Am all day long.

"My folks were there when I won the first one but they were home today. I did get to tell dad, 'Happy Father's Day' on TV, so that was very cool. He'll definitely be the first phone call I make when I get a minute."

For Kurt Johnson, it was his fourth final-round appearance of the season, his 54th career advancement to the championship heat and the second time in the last three events that the ACDelco Chevrolet driver has battled his way to the title match.

"It was a good drag race that just didn't go our way," said Johnson. "We're really happy with our ACDelco Chevy Cavalier. It really proved itself in the heat of the day, making some of the strongest runs of eliminations in Pro Stock. We could use a little more power, because even though it was running good speed, that was really all it had today.

"Even though you are never truly satisfied unless you win, we're going to leave Raceway Park happy. We gained 60 points on the leader, and any time you can do that, it's been a good day. If we're able to duplicate that performance a few times, we'll be in pretty good shape.

Other top performers in Pro Stock today included Steve Johns, who posted the quickest e.t. of the meet in a Chevy Cavalier at 6.726 seconds, and Dave Connolly, whose Chevrolet ran the fastest speed at 206.67 mph.

In Funny Car, Chevy Monte Carlo driver Del Worsham won a key first-round matchup over Whit Bazemore, and then advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual race winner Gary Densham. Worsham and his Checker Schuck's Kragen teammates now find themselves back in first place in the NHRA POWERade points standings.

"If you really think you're a championship caliber team then first-round matchups against good teams like Whit's (Bazemore) are what you want," said Worsham. "Running each other makes quick work of it, and we knew after round one who would be leaving here in first place. We had an opportunity to put some points on the board and that's what we did. It's big. It's June, and races like we had against Whit today are great for the sport. We still have a long way to go, and it's going to be give-and-take from here on out, but we needed that today, especially after the win last weekend in Columbus.

"We're half done with the season. Yes, being in first place is better than any of the alternatives, but there's still so far to go. I see that first round win as being like the last shot of the first half in a basketball game. You launch it as the buzzer sounds, and for us it went in. It's great, and you get to run off the court high-fiving each other, but there's still a whole second half to play. Maybe it's the basket that wins you the game, but maybe not. You're just glad you got it and you move on."

-gm-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Larry Morgan , Gary Densham , Kenny Koretsky , Jason Line , Dave Connolly , Steve J