Baytown: GM Racing final summary

Line Powers His Pontiac to First Win of Season at Houston Defending Pro Stock Champ Keeps Pace in Points at Rain-Soaked Event BAYTOWN, Texas, April 1, 2007 - After two rounds of qualifying for the 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at ...

Line Powers His Pontiac to First Win of Season at Houston
Defending Pro Stock Champ Keeps Pace in Points at Rain-Soaked Event

BAYTOWN, Texas, April 1, 2007 - After two rounds of qualifying for the 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park were rained out, it was only fitting that rain would delay the start of today's eliminations. But after a three-hour rain delay, the inconvenience was worthit to defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champ Jason Line as he drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to his first win of the season and the 13th of his career. Line defeated Allen Johnson in the 26th final round of his young career with an elapsed time of 6.661 seconds at 207.75 mph to Johnson's 6.712 e.t. at 206.26 mph. It was Line's second money-round appearance of the season as he was runner-up to Kurt Johnson in the this year's second race at Phoenix.

"It sure feels great to win - it's a great day," Line said. "My hat's off to NHRA, and especially to all of the fans for sticking around and riding the weather out because it was a tough deal for everybody. But we got through it and it ended up being a great day. We struggled, but fortunately we managed to come up with a win. We got better as the day went on and that's what it took. But it's like that every week, a chess match with the racetrack, but our guys do a great job, and I did a good enough job driving to not mess it up. And congrats to AJ and Roy (Johnson) and everybody on that team. They do a great job and they're fun to race."

All competitors were racing this weekend with a heavy heart after the untimely death of Funny Car driver Eric Medlen last week. Medlen, 33, succumbed to injuries suffered in a crash in testing after the Gainesville (Fla.) race, and all thoughts and prayers were with the Medlen family as well as Eric's John Force Racing team.

"It's been a really tough week" Line said. "I told my wife on Thursday before we were getting ready to come here I just really didn't feel like going. It's just a tough thing for everybody. It wasn't like I knew Eric that well, just enough to say 'hi' to, but he was a great guy and he was always happy. Obviously that's the way the rest of us should try to be because we take this seriously, but the truth is there's more important things in life than just racing, that's for sure. Unfortunately, it takes something like that to make you realize it. I always think that something good can come out of everything, but right now it's hard to figure what good is going to come out of this. I just can't imagine. He was a nice, bright young man and certainly it shouldn't have been his time."

This was the fourth final-round appearance in the season's first four races for one of the Summit Racing's Pontiacs as Line's teammate Greg Anderson posted wins at Pomona (Calif.) and Gainesville. The three-time Pro Stock champ entered today's eliminations qualified No. 2 but bested by Dave Connolly in the second round. Despite the loss, Anderson leaves Houston with the points lead and a 45-point lead over teammate Line.

"We shook the tires, it was as simple as that," Anderson said following the second round. "We just over-tuned the car. We've been fighting tire spin in low gear all weekend long and it finally came back and bit us. Fortunately, Jason's Summit Pontiac picked up the slack and headed to the winner's circle. We now head to Las Vegas to see if we can win one for (team owner) Ken (Black) in his hometown, but we've got to get the tire shake figured out before we get there."

Jeg Coughlin in the Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt was the No. 1 qualifier for today's eliminations and joined Line as a semifinalist by defeating Kenny Koretsky in Round 1 and Greg Stanfield in Round 2. Unfortunately that pitted the two-time Pro Stock champ against Line who ran a 6.682 e.t. at 207.98 to better Coughlin's 6.760 e.t. at 206.51 mph.

"We had the second-quickest time in the first and second rounds," Coughlin said, "and I thought we had a good shot at getting my car and (teammate) Dave Connolly's TORCO Slammers Ultimate Milk Cobalt into the final round. We had excessive tire speed just off the starting line and that definitely poked a hole in our balloon, but we know we have a real competitive car."

Coughlin's teammate Dave Connolly was also a semifinalist in his Chevy Cobalt by defeating V. Gaines on a holeshot in Round 1 and Anderson in Round 2. Ironically, in his semifinal match-up with Allen Johnson, Connolly got beat on a holeshot as Johnson cut a near-perfect .006 reaction time.

In Funny Car, No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet made his first final-round appearance this season before losing to points leader Ron Capps. Pedregon drove past Todd Simpson in Round 1, Bob Gilbertson in Round 2, and Jim Head in the semifinals before facing off with Capps. In the final round, Capps had an elapsed time of 4.868 seconds at 307.93 mph to defeat Pedregon at 6.712 at 206.26 mph.

"Thanks to Advance Auto Parts, the Q, and my brother, Tony Pedregon," Cruz Pedregon said. "This is the Q hometown - for Shell/Pennzoil, Quaker State, man, this is it. I'm just happy to be in a final round. It's been a tough year, but this is turning it around."

Rain also delayed results in the Sportsman classes, but Brian Hough from Junction City, Ore., did drive an '02 Firebird to the Top Alcohol Funny Car title, driving past the '07 Mustang of Cy Chesterman.

The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the 8th annual NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 12-15.

-credit: gm racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Greg Stanfield , Kenny Koretsky , Allen Johnson , Jason Line , Eric Medlen , Dave Connolly , Todd Simpson