Jason Line Drives Pontiac GTO to Third Victory of the Season Tony Pedregon's Chevy Monte Carlo Advances to Fourth Final Round and Third Place SONOMA, Calif., July 30, 2006 - Jason Line captured his third win of the season on Sunday by driving...
Jason Line Drives Pontiac GTO to Third Victory of the Season
Tony Pedregon's Chevy Monte Carlo Advances to Fourth Final Round and Third Place
SONOMA, Calif., July 30, 2006 - Jason Line captured his third win of the season on Sunday by driving the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to a final-round, holeshot victory over Vieri Gaines at the 19th annual Fram Autolite Nationals. It was Line's 11th career win, his first at Infineon Raceway and the eighth this year for the GTO in Pro Stock competition.
"This Summit Racing Pontiac is definitely the best car I've ever driven, said Line. "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. This 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, but if this weekend is any indication, then we've turned the corner, with plenty of good things to expect from both cars."
Line, who celebrated his 37th birthday last Tuesday, entered raceday with his GTO qualified in the No. 2 spot. He defeated Mark Pawuk in round one with a 6.671 e.t. at 207.43 mph, Tom Martino in round two with a 6.663 second run at 207.78 mph, and Jim Yates in the semifinals with a 6.677 e.t at 206.92 mph. In the championship round against Gaines, Line's Pontiac was first out of the starting blocks with a .045 reaction time, and then never relinquished the lead, holding off the Dodge, and crossing the finish line with a 6.672 e.t. at 207.15 mph run. Gaines followed with a 6.668-second pass at 207.05 mph. The margin of victory for the Pontiac was .027 of a second or approximately eight feet.
"When you can win here in California it's a tremendous accomplishment," said Line. "It's a great day for the whole Summit Racing Pontiac crew. Our two GTOs were the best cars out here. The KB Racing team has a pretty good shot at being No. 1 and No. 2 again, but we've got a lot of work left ahead of us. Dave Connolly is right there on our tails, and Jim Yates, Kurt Johnson and Mike Edwards are more than able to take advantage of any mistakes we might make. We have to win rounds and today we managed to do that.
"The only bad session, for me, was Q3, our qualifying run, and it wasn't that bad. I also fell off a little but in the finals so it was nice to be able to make that up on the tree. Other than that this car has been really good. The guys have done an excellent job on this GTO and it's been a lot of fun to drive."
Line's third win of 2006 now ties him with Chevy Cobalt driver Dave Connolly for the most this season in the Pro Stock category. The Wright, Minn., native, and 2004 NHRA Rookie of the Year now extends his lead in the standings over teammate Greg Anderson to 64 points as the series makes the turn eastward for the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (Minn.).
"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."
In addition to Jason Line's Pontiac victory celebration, Jim Yates drove his Wiley X GTO to the semifinals before losing to the points leader. After struggling through qualifying, Yates entered raceday in the No. 11 spot and defeated Greg Stanfield in round one and Dave Connolly in round two. Yates best run of the day came in his round-three loss to Line when his Pontiac posted a 6.684 e.t. at 206.39 mph, but he trailed at the finish line by just .043 of a second. The two-time NHRA champion leaves California fourth in the standings.
"We had a great weekend," said Yates. "I mean, we struggled so much in qualifying and couldn't find the right setup for the Wiley X Pontiac. We just struggled every qualifying run - Saturday we didn't even make it down the track. Driver error on one run, the transmission wasn't right on another and we looked like we didn't belong out there Saturday. On Sunday, we buckled it up and everybody did a great job. Bill (Jenkins) worked his tail off on the engine and came up with a competitive tune-up. Every round we got a little better, and thank God we kept winning rounds. By the time we got to the semis I felt we had a car we could win the race with. Our e.t. was within .007 of Jason (Line) and he had lane choice. He just did a better job on the tree. You win that way and you lose that way - we won a couple rounds today on the starting line and we lost one. All in all, we had a great weekend, especially with the way it started off. But that's the sign of a good team. They don't give up, they don't quit, they just keep on stroking trying to do better, and today we did that."
No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson set a national record on Saturday in the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO posting the quickest time in the history of the NHRA Pro Stock category at 6.631 seconds. That's especially gratifying for the three-time champion considering he is competing in a car that he raced for the first time two weeks ago in Denver. On Sunday, Anderson's GTO posted the two quickest elapsed times of the day in round one and two, both at 6.659 seconds, and he defeated Mike Thomas in the opening stanza before losing to Allen Johnson in the second heat. Anderson's Pontiac also recorded the fastest speed of the event at 207.82 mph.
"It's been a good three races to break in a new car and we've learned a lot over the last three weeks," said the 2004 Driver of the Year. "The guys have done a great job with this Summit Racing Pontiac GTO and running national-record numbers in just our third race with it says a lot. We'll certainly take a lot of positives home with us from Sonoma. More so than the race before and the race before that - we got better with the car and I got better driving. I got stung today by a guy that had a fantastic light in the second round but my Pontiac had low e.t. in the first and second round. We did great in qualifying and we did just fine on raceday - the Ken Black Racing team certainly had the two fast horses today. It's disappointing when you lose by a margin as .001 hurts - worse than if I'd lost by a mile. But I'm so proud of the guys, we were a little shorthanded this weekend with Jeff Perley just having a baby a couple of days ago, and every one jumped in and pulled a little harder. They worked hard and had these two GTOs flying - I couldn't be more proud."
Dave Connolly did his best to keep pace with the frontrunners, and a No. 14 qualifying spot in his Chevy Cobalt on Saturday, looked even better on Sunday when he was able to muster a round-one win over Warren Johnson. As the tour makes the swing back east for the next event in Brainerd, Minn., Connolly remains third in the standings and still within striking distance of second-place Greg Anderson and points leader Jason Line.
"From where we started the weekend, we got 40 more points than what it looked like we were going to get," said Connolly. "We could have fallen farther behind, but we didn't. We got around Warren (Johnson) in the first round but he very easily could have gone green there. Unfortunately, we gave it back in the second round, but you have to take the good luck with the bad luck, and if you look at the field that round, other than Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line), the other six cars were only separated by a hundredth. It's all on the starting line anymore. I took a shot at it and missed. We're still pretty pleased though with our Chevy Cobalt. We made a lot of headway over the past few days, basically the last three runs, and the car's running a lot better. Give our engine guys an extra week in the shop to catch up on the motors, and get those back in good shape, and we'll see if we can put together a better performance in Brainerd."
Another pair of Pontiac drivers who advanced to the quarterfinals today included Tom Martino and Mike Edwards. Martino qualified 10th and defeated Kurt Johnson in round one, Edwards qualified 12th an took out Richie Stevens in the first sessions.
"The guys on this race team make it easy for me," said Martino. "I felt good this morning, and I told them before I went up there for the first round that from my qualifying I know how I am on the tree, and what I do, and we should be in the .20s. I was .029 in the first round and felt that was it - that we should be between .025 and .035 all day. Actually, when I let it loose in round two I thought I got it. Last week in the one round where I had the .050 I told them on the radio that I had missed it a little bit. When I got the sheet today, and it said .055, I was surprised. I still had a chance to win the race, and if we stayed in the groove we probably would have beat him. Our Pontiac GTO was a hundredth faster to the 330 than the run before. Like I said, these guys are doing a great job, and we made some changes to improve the car from the first round. It was on a 6.68 run, but got out of the groove. He beat me by a hundredth. Good for them. That's why they're one and two in the points. They don't make bad runs."
"Not a bad weekend," said Edwards, "but we hoped for more on the Western Swing. We blew up two motors, one in Seattle and one here. That's part of it though. Luckily we have one that's good enough to qualify but you need your best piece on Sunday. We won first round here today and didn't run bad. The door was open there for a second-round win but I didn't have a good enough light. That's part of it. You got to have it all out here. You can take a really good driver like Allen Johnson, and win a lot of rounds, plus he's pretty fast too. But you have to drive every race, I don't care how fast you are. The fastest cars aren't winning these races. It's the guys letting the clutch out first that are getting it done. We'll go home, regroup, send the motor back and see if we can't get some things done before Brainerd. I need to break some tires in so we'll probably take the Young Life Pontiac out to Tulsa for a day to do that."
Tony Pedregon is having his best season as a Funny Car driver since acquiring his own race team. Today he drove the Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to his fourth final-round appearance of the year before losing to Eric Medlen. Pedregon qualified his nitro-powered Chevy in the No. 5 spot, and defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in round one, Scott Kalitta in round two and Mike Ashley in round three. Pedregon's weekend effort was enough to move him to third place in the NHRA Funny Car points standings.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Clint Thompson of Klamath Falls, Ore., drove his Monte Carlo to an all-Chevy final round victory over Roger Bateman. Thompson took the win light with a 5.628 e.t. at 255.00 mph to Bateman's 5.682 second run at 249.39 mph.
The next stop on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour is the 25th annual Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., on Aug. 10 - 13.