LINE SEEKING WIN IN HOME STATE OF MINNESOTA, MOVE TO POINTS LEAD IN FULL THROTTLE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT BRAINERD, Minn. -- Jason Line has checked off many items from his racing bucket list over the years -- including a sportsman world championship...
LINE SEEKING WIN IN HOME STATE OF MINNESOTA, MOVE TO POINTS LEAD IN FULL THROTTLE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT
BRAINERD, Minn. -- Jason Line has checked off many items from his racing bucket list over the years -- including a sportsman world championship title in NHRA Stock Eliminator, a professional series title in NHRA Pro Stock competition and great success as an engine builder in the world of NASCAR racing. The one thing missing from the Wright, Minn. native's high performance resume is a Pro Stock victory at his home track, Brainerd International Raceway.
The 19-time NHRA winner comes to his home state once again in pursuit of the elusive victory. However, this time, he has a big wave of momentum pushing his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP. He has advanced to the last four final rounds, winning twice. He has claimed four victories in seven finals this season and is currently third overall in the highly competitive top 10 point standings in Pro Stock. He showcased his driving skills by winning with holeshot starts in the final two rounds at the last stop on the circuit -- Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
"It's been a good year so far for this Summit Racing crew, and it still has the potential to be a great one," Line said. "We just have to step up a little bit and do a better job all the way around. The car needs to be faster, the engine needs to be better and the driver needs to do his job every time out. I think everyone on this KB Racing team is excited about our chances, and we definitely have the ability to make it happen."
Line will work on making a win happen at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 13-16 at Brainerd International Raceway and join fellow Minnesota Pro Stock legends Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson and teammate Greg Anderson on the BIR winners list. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Tony Pedregon (Funny Car), K. Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.
"If I could pick one place to win with my Summit Racing Pontiac, it would have to be Brainerd International Raceway, and I'm hoping this will be the year I can go past my runner-up finish from 2006," Line said. "I love racing in Brainerd. I get to go home and see my family, friends and people I used to race with back in the day. It's a good track, especially since they redid the surface a few years ago."
Line's competition this season has come from four-time world champ Jeg Coughlin, who leads the point standings with five victories in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt and the season's biggest surprise, Mike Edwards, who has posted three victories and countless No. 1 qualifying positions in his ART GXP and holds down second place. Coughlin is a three-time winner at BIR, while Edwards is still looking for his first Minnesota win.
With the consistency that those two drivers have shown all season, Line knows he has a tough job ahead of him in his championship pursuit.
"Regardless of what the two cars in front of us do, we have to be perfect to pass them," Line said. "There are going to be breaks along the way, and you have to hope they go your way, and we're going to make sure and do everything we can to make that happen."
The one thing that brings Line comfort entering the final three races of the Countdown to 10 is knowing that he's one of the five drivers who have secured their positions in the Countdown to 1, NHRA's six-race championship playoffs.
"We see these last three races as a chance to prepare for the Countdown, conditioning ourselves for those crucial six races," Line said. "However, we don't want to ease our way in -- we want to win more than anyone else, and we hope that's going to show." In Top Fuel, Antron Brown is riding high after sweeping the famed Western Swing, powering his Matco Tools dragster to a trio of consecutive victories at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. With five wins on the season, Brown will be hoping to add to his BIR total, as the former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer won a category-leading four times on two wheels at the Minnesota dragstrip. Other top contenders in the 7,000 horsepower category include three-time BIR winner Tony Schumacher and two-time event winners Brandon Bernstein, Larry Dixon and Doug Kalitta.
Tony Pedregon leads the Funny Car category with two victories this season in his Q-Horsepower Chevy Impala. He won at BIR in 2008 and will be trying to extend his series lead with another solid performance there. Ron Capps is the season win leader with five victories in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and Ashley Force Hood has won one time in six final round appearances in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Her father John is the all-time wins leader at BIR with 11 victories at the multi-purpose motorsports facility. He is trying to end a winless slump that dates back to Topeka 2008 when he last won.
Eddie Krawiec continues to be the story in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The defending world champion, who earned the '08 title without winning a race, is off to a hot start this season with three wins in seven consecutive final rounds on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. While Krawiec leads the points, his teammate, Andrew Hines, is second overall with two victories on his Harley-Davidson. The three-time world champ won at BIR in 2007. Others to watch in the bike category include past Brainerd winners Matt Smith and Craig Treble, season winners Matt Guidera and Hector Arana and top rookie contender Doug Horne, who has advanced to two finals this season.
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals are scheduled for 2:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14 and 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals by calling Brainerd International Raceway at (866) 444-4455 or via the Internet at www.brainerdraceway.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET) on Saturday Aug. 15. On Sunday, Aug. 16, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 13. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 14.