2006 POWERade Champion Jason Line Off to Another Fast Start New Approach Keeps Summit Racing Pontiac Driver On Track LAS VEGAS, April 9, 2007 - After grinding his way through the 2006 NHRA schedule, a season in which Jason Line won his first ...
2006 POWERade Champion Jason Line Off to Another Fast Start
New Approach Keeps Summit Racing Pontiac Driver On Track
LAS VEGAS, April 9, 2007 - After grinding his way through the 2006 NHRA schedule, a season in which Jason Line won his first POWERade Pro Stock championship, the 37-year-old Summit Racing Pontiac driver made a personal commitment to try and have a little bit more fun this year. While still putting in long hours with his teammates at the KB Racing Shop in Mooresville, N.C., early success on the track, including a win at the tour's last stop in Houston, and a runner-up at Phoenix, would indicate that Line's more relaxed approach may be paying off.
"One of my goals for the year was to enjoy what's going on around me a little more," said Line. "And I'll be honest, winning makes it a little easier. Drag racing is supposed to be about fun, but sometimes you're reminded that there are more important things than racing, or just winning for that matter. If I'm not going to have fun doing this then I'm not going to do it. As far as less stress on the race team, that's always a good thing. If one of us is in a bad mood then that tends to spill over onto everyone else, and again, that takes some of the fun out of it. That's not what this sport is about. We work hard, no question about that, but we need to step back sometimes, take a look at what we've accomplished, and maybe enjoy it a little bit, too."
As hard as it may seem, the defending POWERade champion is off to his best start ever as an NHRA Pro Stock driver. In the season's first four events, the Summit Racing Pontiac driver has captured nine round wins to go with his win at Houston and a runner-up at Phoenix. That's one more round win than in his previous best start in 2005 when he was 8-3 after four contests.
"I think it's a big deal when you can start like that," said Line. "I don't test a lot, and I don't usually drive the car unless it's at the races, so I don't make enough runs to where you'll see me improve. That's my own fault, and no one else's, but my lack of practice certainly shows up on raceday. To be able to start off this good, this early, is good for me. Traditionally, as the year goes on, I drive better. Winning at Houston was a big deal for me personally, but it also keeps the guys moving forward and happy. That's what we're paid to do -win - and that's what makes all of the hard work in the shop worthwhile."
Regardless of what is accomplished on the track, the lights are always on early in the morning and burn late into the night at the KB Racing Shop in Mooresville, N.C., with everyone working hard to gain even the slightest improvements out of their two GTOs and their GM DRCE3 powerplants.
"I think you're starting to see the preseason research-and-development work we did with the DRCE3 pay off," said Line. "When you look at the speed record, we went 209.75 mph last year, and we've managed to tack an additional two mph onto that. That's pretty huge, I think. That doesn't just happen every day. Obviously, the engines are coming along nicely, but the car guys are doing great as well. We still miss Jeff (Perley), though, but everyone's pulling together and doing a good job of trying to make the race team better. Several guys have really stepped up, cramming a lot of learning into a very short time."
Line was the 1993 NHRA Stock eliminator national champion and worked as an engine dyno operator for the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR program before joining KB Racing in 2003. He made his professional debut at the 2003 Pontiac Performance Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and captured his first national-event victory the next year in Chicago. In his fourth full season as an NHRA Pro Stock competitor Line has qualified in all 77 races he's entered (a Pro Stock streak second only to teammate Greg Anderson's 97 straight events), won 13 events, advanced to 26 final rounds and earned 12 No. 1 qualifying awards. He has three top-three points finishes (including last year's POWERade championship), and last month at the ACDelco Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., his Summit Racing Pontiac set the NHRA Pro Stock national speed record of 211.69 mph. That was a record previously held by Line and set last October at Richmond's Virginia Motorsports Park.
"My goal is always to have one of our two team cars qualify No. 1 and win the race - I don't care which one it is as long as one of them does," said Line. "As a team, the goal is to win every race. At the same time, we could go to the next 18 races and not win one of them. Who knows? You have to enjoy this success while it lasts because we're in a fickle business, everybody is working hard, and any team could find more power and figure out how to make their cars work better and kick our tail for the rest of the year."
Recently, Jason, his wife Cindy, and their one-year-old son Jack moved into a new home in the country just outside of Mooresville. Even though Line has been in North Carolina for almost 10 years, the Minnesota native is finally beginning to feel settled in the Tar Heel State.
"For the first time I feel like I'm beginning to put down some roots here," said Line. "It was a lot of work moving in and getting everything the way we wanted, especially with all of the preseason work at the shop, but it was well worth it. Cindy loves it and Jack has a lot of room to play."
Entering this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Line is hoping to see some similarities from Houston carry over to the next contest scheduled on the tour. Currently second in the points standings behind teammate Greg Anderson, Line has never won at Las Vegas, but he was runner-up to Richie Stevens last October, and Anderson at the fall contest in 2004. With a team total of eight final-round appearances since 2003, the Summit Racing Pontiac's have a history of performing well at "The Strip" with Anderson winning there four times.
"It's (team owner) Ken's (Black) hometown so as long as Greg or myself does well, that's all that matters," said Line. "I'm looking forward to it. I'll have family and friends there, and it's always fun to spend time with Ken (Black) and Judy (Black) and their family. They'll have a lot of people there too - it's something I'm looking forward to.
"The fact that, as a team, we have three wins in four races and have had cars in all four final rounds shows how good it is. But the truth is, Pro Stock is very competitive, and if you mess up at all, then someone else will blow right by you. You have to be pretty much mistake free to win races and that comes from preparation. I'd like to think we prepare as well as anyone, but time will tell. We still have a long way to go until we get to where we want to be. The engine shop, though, is much better than it's ever been. We have the right personalities working in sync with each other, everybody gets along, we enjoy what we're doing, and our performance on the racetrack reflects that.
"I can't think of a better way to make a living. Someone is paying me to go to the drag races, and it's the one thing I've wanted to do almost my entire life. I feel very fortunate. I'm still learning how to deal with the attention and the crowds, and sometimes it's hard for me because I'm very private, but I'm starting to enjoy it. I can't imagine what could be better than this."
* Entering the month of April, Chevrolet leads the race for the 2007 NHRA Manufacturer's Cup with 1,080 points. Chevrolet has won 15 NHRA Manufacturer's Championships, the most of any manufacturer in the sport.
* Jason Line's win at Houston was the 174th all time for Pontiac in the Pro Stock category, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the sport.
* Kurt Johnson's win at Phoenix in February was the most recent for Chevrolet in the factory hot rod category and gave the red bowtie its 135th all-time victory in the Pro Stock category.
* A pair of Chevy Cobalts battled it out in last year's SummitRacing.com final-round with Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet taking the win light over Dave Connolly. It was Johnson's second straight win at The Strip and the fourth consecutive year (going back to 2003) that he had advanced to a final-round at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The ACDelco Chevy driver has been runner-up there three times.
* Pontiac's Jim Yates needs just one more round to hit the magical 400 mark. Among active drivers, only Warren Johnson (829) and Kurt Johnson (447) have more.
* With four national events completed, seven drivers in GM-branded cars occupy a spot in the top 10 of the points standings. Greg Anderson (Pontiac) is in first place with 368 points, Jason Line (Pontiac) is in second place with 323 points, Dave Connolly (Chevrolet) is in third place with 252 points, and Jeg Coughlin (Chevrolet) is in fourth place with 217 points. Mike Edwards (Pontiac) is fifth with 213 points, Greg Stanfield (Pontiac) is sixth with 210 points and Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet) is seventh with 187 points.
* In Funny Car, three Chevrolets are in the top 10. Tony Pedregon is in second place with 280 points, Cruz Pedregon is in sixth place with 182 points and Jeff Arend is seventh with 171 points.
-credit: gm racing