Summit NHRA Nationals puts added pressure on Pro Stick racer.
This race weekend isn’t like any other race weekend on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit for two-time Pro Stock world champion Jason Line, even those that are also sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment.
This weekend’s ninth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals has Line’s and teammate Greg Anderson’s sponsor in the name of the event, but the magnitude of the race is even greater for Line and Anderson.
It takes place at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, and with Summit Racing Equipment’s headquarters in nearby Tallmadge, Ohio, Line, who won the event in 2009, knows it is not a typical weekend.
"It's overwhelming in a really good way to get to race in Norwalk,” Line said. “There are so many folks from Summit Racing Equipment there to support us, and without them, none of this would be possible. It's a very fun weekend from start to finish, and getting to meet everyone and see them there with their families is something we look forward to every year. They're all proud to work for a great company like Summit Racing and we're proud to represent them on the racetrack."
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. It is the 12th event of the season, marking the halfway point of 2015, and the Fourth of July weekend race is always a big one for Line.
His greatest memory of the race is knocking off Mike Edwards in the final round in 2009, but Line has always enjoyed everything that comes along with performing well at his sponsor’s home track. He has embraced the extra duties and activities, including an important matter to start the week.
"We'll start the weekend on Wednesday, when Greg and I get to serve the employees lunch at the Summit Racing Equipment picnic,” Line said. “A little for them, a little for me. It's a lot of fun."
But Line will get down to business in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro when the weekend comes, hoping to quickly erase what he called a disappointing performance at the most recent race in Bristol. He lost a second-round matchup with eventual winner, current points leader and defending world champion Erica Enders, but Line likes the direction his team is headed.
He has earned victories this season in Pomona and Atlanta, raced to three overall final round appearances, and led the points standings after three different races. Currently in third, Line wants a strong performance in Norwalk to kick off a stretch of five races in six weeks on a good note.
“At the last race, we didn't have a particularly good weekend but I think we're in a good position in the bigger picture," Line said. "We aren't in a bad spot at all at this point in the year, we just made some mistakes and learned from them. You'll have that. It's difficult to be perfect every weekend, but we feel very good going into our sponsor's race in Norwalk. The Summit Racing team will definitely be good there."
Line’s teammate Anderson has won twice in Norwalk, but a loaded field led by Enders will present a strong challenge. Vincent Nobile, who also has two Norwalk wins, Phoenix winner Rodger Brogdon, newcomer Drew Skillman, Shane Gray, Allen Johnson, Larry Morgan and Chris McGaha are just a few of the drivers who will also be putting up a fierce fight for the win in the 200-mph factory hot rod class.
But Line’s Camaro has been consistent all season, a good sign heading into an important stretch before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins. Line has also performed well in every weather condition and with a determined mindset already in place for the weekend, he is aiming for another Norwalk triumph.
"The conditions can be brutal in Norwalk, but the weather forecast looks pretty good for this weekend,” said Line, who has 37 career victories. “We took a step back at the last race, but we understand why, and we are looking forward to what our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros can do this weekend in Norwalk. We're going to be better, for sure."