Line Captures 2006 NHRA Pro Stock Title With Runner-Up Finish at Las Vegas Johnson Advances His Chevy to Third Funny Car Final of the Season LAS VEGAS, October 29, 2006 - For Pontiac Pro Stock driver Jason Line, it was a case of losing the...
Line Captures 2006 NHRA Pro Stock Title With Runner-Up Finish at Las
Johnson Advances His Chevy to Third Funny Car Final of the Season
LAS VEGAS, October 29, 2006 - For Pontiac Pro Stock driver Jason Line, it was a case of losing the battle but winning the war. The 37-year-old Line clinched his first career Pro Stock crown after defeating teammate and three-time defending Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson in the semifinals of today's 6th annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With a 119-point advantage over second-place Anderson entering today's eliminations at Las Vegas, Line just needed to advance one more round than his teammate to clinch his first Pro Stock crown. He drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO past Anderson in the semifinals of today's eliminations to advance to his eighth final round of the season before losing to event winner Richie Stevens Jr. Stevens got the holeshot win with a near-perfect .002 reaction time and an elapsed time of 6.789 seconds at 202.85 mph to Line's quicker but losing 6.735 e.t. at 204.57 mph.
"I told the guys before I went up there (against Anderson in the semis) that this was the biggest round I've ever raced in, for sure," said Line, "because you know if you win, (the championship chase) is over. It was tough, especially racing Greg. But I'm always comfortable racing Greg it seems. He always brings out the best in me, which I'm sure he doesn't do on purpose. I had a good feeling about it. Of course, I had a good feeling about the final, too. It was hard, but I was elated to see the win-light come on. It was a whole lot of relief more than anything.
"To be honest, I didn't look at the points to know what we had to do to win (coming into this weekend). Last night I knew going into today if we could race Greg in the semis and beat him it was going to be over. So that was my goal, but I guess I should've made my goal winning the race instead. All in all, it turned out good. I'm happy for Richie and those guys. They work hard - everybody does."
Line came into today's eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier with a track-record elapsed time of 6.705 seconds at a track-record speed of 204.94 mph. It was the 11th time he has had low e.t. of the race and ninth time he has had top speed. The Minnesota native defeated Warren Johnson in Round 1 and Jeg Coughlin in Round 2 before facing Anderson in his title-clinching semifinal battle. In capturing that win he had an elapsed time of 6.751 seconds at 204.05 mph to Anderson's 6.773 e.t. at 204.14 mph.
"I had the worst year driving and lost again tonight because I wasn't as focused as I needed to be," said Line. "I plan to work on this and by the new season you'll see a new Jason Line behind the wheel. It sure was anticlimactic after winning the championship but winning the championship was cool."
Last year Anderson became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver since Bob Glidden's run in 1985-89 to win three consecutive titles (2003-2005). The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver joins Glidden and Lee Shepherd as the only Pro Stock drivers who have captured three consecutive NHRA crowns.
"I'm proud of Jason and I'm proud of this team," said Anderson. "In the first couple of years Jason was learning the game. Now he knows the game and has proved he knows how to win. We've got a dynamite one-two punch now that's capable of winning every race we go to, capable of winning championships. The team has grown and is now ready to go ahead and win races and championships for a long time to come."
Dave Connolly qualified No. 3 and advanced his Chevy Cobalt to the semifinals by defeating Bob Panella Jr. in Round 1, Tom Martino in Round 2 to face Stevens. In their semifinal match-up, Stevens had an elapsed time of 6.800 seconds at 203.09 mph to Connolly's foul start.
"There's nowhere else to put the blame but on the driver's shoulders," said a dejected Connolly following his semifinal loss. We were doing what it took to win the race, but we didn't turn the win light on. The good new is that our new race car is running better. I think we have a car that can win a race. Maybe we can do that at Pomona (Calif.)."
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. drove the Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo to his third final round of the season, previously winning final-round match-ups earlier this year at Phoenix and Brainerd (Minn.). Johnson defeated fellow Chevy driver Phil Burkart Jr. in Round 1, 13-time Funny Car champ John Force in a Ford in Round 2, and Force Racing driver Eric Medlen in the semifinal to face first-time Funny Car finalist Jack Beckman. In the final, Beckman captured his first career Funny Car win with an elapsed time of 4.783 seconds at 327.19 mph to Johnson's 5.704 e.t. at 244.47 mph.
"We didn't come here to make the points chase interesting," said Johnson, "we came here to win. You want to win every round every weekend, but we came up a little short."
In the Sportsman classes, Greg Luneack from Vista, Calif., drove a '65 Nova Wagon to the Super Stock title, Clark Holroyd from Chino, Calif., won Stock Eliminator in his '68 Nova, and Bob Harris from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., won Super Gas in his '00 Corvette.
The final stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the season-ending 42nd annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, Calif., on Nov. 9-12.
-credit: gm racing