Las Vegas II: GM Racing preview

Pontiac's Jason Line Closing in on NHRA Pro Stock Championship GTO Driver Hopes to Clinch POWERade Title at ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals LAS VEGAS, Oct. 23, 2006 -As the NHRA POWERade season winds down to its final pair of events at ...

Pontiac's Jason Line Closing in on NHRA Pro Stock Championship
GTO Driver Hopes to Clinch POWERade Title at ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 23, 2006 -As the NHRA POWERade season winds down to its final pair of events at the ACDelco NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway (Calif.), Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver Jason Line edges ever so close to his first Pro Stock driver's title. Line can clinch the 2006 POWERade championship by earning 20 points more than teammate, and second-place Greg Anderson at the Sixth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals on Oct. 26 - 29.

"I think this season has been pretty good for the whole program," said Line. "The competition gets tougher every year and our guys rose to the challenge. One of the two of us, either Greg (Anderson) or myself is going to win the championship, and we're going to finish one-two in the points. That's about all you could ask for.

"Being organized and always having a plan has been the key to our success. Four championships in four years says a lot about how good this team is - and that's from the top on down. From Ken Black and Ken Jr. (Black), to Greg, to Rob (Downing) and Jeff (Perley), to everyone at the shop and at the track. We're constantly working on new stuff, and at the same time, we're looking on down the road to six months, and even a year out. We have two things going at the same time - some of us are thinking about next week and some of us are thinking about next year. We have parallel programs going on and everyone has done a good job at doing their part. It's certainly something we've built over the years and I'm extremely proud to be a part of it."

Line spent a valuable tenure as a dyno operator at Joe Gibbs Racing from 1997-2003, and he was a part of that organization's two NASCAR Winston Cup championships with Bobby Labonte in 2000 and Tony Stewart in 2002. Four years ago, winning an NHRA Pro Stock championship probably seemed as plausible to Line as landing on the moon. But a chance meeting in Charlotte with fellow Minnesotan Greg Anderson eventually resulted in an opportunity to drive a second car for Ken Black Racing and returned the 1993 NHRA Stock Eliminator champion to his roots in drag racing.

"I had hoped to be here, but to be honest, I didn't think there was a chance that I would be in Pro Stock competing at this level," said Line. "I was trying to get my Stocker going again, and was kind of getting back into it because I'd been out of it for awhile, and I missed it. To me, drag racing is one of those things that if you can't do it, you don't even want to be around it, you don't even want to see it. Until I met Greg (Anderson) I wanted no part of it, but after that, it kind of changed everything."

Line completed his first full season on the POWERade tour in 2004 driving his Pontiac to four national-event victories, eight final-round appearances, two No. 1 qualifying awards and a second-place finish behind Anderson. Line was the recipient of the Automobile of Southern California Road to the Future Award as the top rookie performer.

Shrugging off any talk of a sophomore jinx Line scored his second straight top-three finish in 2005. The Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver captured his first victory of the season at Gainesville, Fla., in March, and then went on to blister the competition in June with wins at Chicago and Englishtown (N.J.) before picking up his fourth and final victory of the year at the second Chicago meet in September. Line's four wins in 2005 equaled his victory total in 2004, and after a first-round loss to Dave Howard at the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day, Line came on strong at the final five races earning low qualifying honors at Reading (Pa.) and Pomona, and qualifying No. 2 at Chicago (a race he won) and Dallas (runner-up).

Line started out the 2006 campaign slowly with only two round wins and three losses, and left the third contest of the year at Gainesville (Fla.) eighth in the points standings. That would be as far as he would fall, and beginning with the O'Reilly Spring Nationals in Houston (where he was the No. 1 qualifier), Line began the long climb back toward the top of the ladder.

At Bristol (Tenn.), Line qualified No. 1 and grabbed his first win of 2006 by defeating Anderson in an all-Pontiac GTO final. In June he won Englishtown for the third consecutive year, and at Denver, Line was runner-up to Dave Connolly, but moved into first place in the points standings for the first time in his career. The Mile-High Nationals also marked the beginning of a string of races where the Summit Racing Pontiac driver advanced to the final round in four of his next five contests including a victory at Sonoma (Calif.), and runners-up at Brainerd (Minn.) and Memphis.

Despite Anderson's tenacious pursuit and the relentless pressure applied by third-place Dave Connolly, Line began strengthening his stronghold around first-place at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond. After earning his fifth raceday pole of 2006, Line broke the points bank at VMP by setting a national-record elapsed time for the second weekend in a row with a run of 6.558 seconds, and a national-record speed of 209.75 mph en route to his fourth win of the season.

"I never dreamed that I could set the record twice, so to me it was a big deal," said Line. "We figured we could go that fast, but saying it and doing it are two different things. It was one of those times that we went in there with the right stuff, and we probably got a little bit lucky at the same time. It was one of those very rare moments. Our Summit Racing Pontiac ran great, the engine worked great and the driver didn't do too bad either. It was a fun weekend.

"With everything that we've accomplished this season, I'm probably most proud of setting the record, especially when we were able to do it on consecutive weekends. Whenever you can set the record in a class made for naturally-aspirated engines, that's a big deal for a guy who works in the engine shop. We pride ourselves on making good power, and making more power than anyone else, and when you can set the record, that solidifies your spot in the horsepower hierarchy."

In addition to his category-leading 40 round wins this season and the 40 bonus points for twice setting the national elapsed-time record, some other key factors in Line's championship charge include going 3-0 on raceday against Anderson, and 4-4 against Connolly (who he has raced more than any other driver this season). Line also has not lost a round-one matchup since July 23 at Seattle (the longest streak in Pro Stock), and he leads the category this year with the fewest first-round losses (four).

"The trick is not to beat yourself," said Line. "I remember watching Greg Stanfield when he won all of those championships in Super Stock. The thing he did better than everyone else is that he didn't beat himself - he made you beat him. He was going up there and cutting the same light on the tree every time, and was going to run within a hundredth of his dial-in. If you could beat him go ahead. For me, I'm about .040 or .050 on the light these days, and the car's going to run what it runs. If you can outdo that then you're going to win the round, but that's what I'll continue to do for the remainder of the season."

With the year winding down and the Pro Stock championship going to one of the cars in the Summit Racing Pontiac camp, Jason Line is already looking ahead to 2007 and for ways to keep the team's two GTOs at the front of the pack.

"I'm constantly thinking, 24/7, about something engine related - always," said Line. "Last week, after one of our dyno pulls, we found a little more horsepower, not much, three or four horsepower, and not enough that you'll actually see it. But the next time, or the next two times we find three or four horsepower, it's going to show up and you're going to see it on the racetrack. We're constantly looking for that. It's a quest. No stone is left unturned, and for me, that's what is the most fun of this whole deal knowing that you can never be finished. It's fun to find power and trying to find more becomes absolutely addictive. Everybody enjoys this, but there are certain individuals out here, including myself, that not only enjoy it, but live for it."

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Greg Anderson , Jason Line , Dave Howard , Dave Connolly , Ken Black
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing