Line Pilots Pontiac to 10th Career No. 1 Qualifier at Las Vegas Points Leader Continues Late-Season Surge Toward Championship LAS VEGAS, October 28, 2006 - Pontiac driver Jason Line currently leads all drivers in the NHRA Pro Stock points chase,...
Line Pilots Pontiac to 10th Career No. 1 Qualifier at Las Vegas
Points Leader Continues Late-Season Surge Toward Championship
LAS VEGAS, October 28, 2006 - Pontiac driver Jason Line currently leads all drivers in the NHRA Pro Stock points chase, but today he claimed the point on the 16-car Pro Stock field for tomorrow's eliminations after qualifying for the 6th annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Line drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to a track-record elapsed time of 6.705 seconds at a track-record speed of 204.88 mph to claim his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 10th of his career. It was also the 2004 NHRA Rookie of the Year's second consecutive pole as he claimed the top qualifying spot two weeks ago at Richmond en route to his fourth win of the season.
"It was a great day and I didn't think about the points thing," said Line, who has a near insurmountable 119-point lead over teammate Greg Anderson in Pro Stock driver points with just two races remaining on the NHRA schedule. "Tomorrow should be a really interesting day for all of us. If I win a couple of rounds tomorrow, it would be great, but I'd like to win four. We're on the same side of the ladder with Greg and if both of us win, we'd meet in the semis. We definitely have a good racecar. We have Warren Johnson in the first round and he's a champion of all champions, and I guess if you want to be one you have to beat one. So it's a good first-round match-up for sure.
"(With me running Greg for the championship) it's a new situation for us to be in. We try to put ourselves in each other's shoes. We're both handling it in an adult way. The bottom line is that we're teammates and friends. It's all good and will make us a better team."
Dave Connolly was the highest-qualified Chevy in the No. 3 spot, powering his SKULL Gear/Torco Racing Fuels Chevy Cobalt to an impressive 6.727 e.t. at 204.20 mph. Other Chevy qualifiers include Tommy Lee (5th), his Slammers Ultimate Milk teammate Jeg Coughlin (8th), Kurt Johnson (9th), Ron Krisher (11th), and Kenny Koretsky (12th).
"This whole team has worked hard on this Chevy Cobalt for about the last month or so," said Connolly. "We've made more runs in the last month than we have probably all year. It's definitely starting to show. We still have a little left, but we're getting close.
"Jason's been doing that a lot lately, going out and ruining everybody's fun and taking the No. 1 spot back. Overall, though, to even come that close after we've been trailing those guys by about three hundredths, we feel like we've definitely picked up quite a bit. I'm feeling pretty confident about this weekend. It feels to have a good hot rod underneath you. There would be nothing nicer to finish the season off with two wins, or even one more win. It's been quite a long stretch here, and we just need to pick up another one and keep the momentum going throughout the winter."
Anderson is the three-time defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champ and currently second in driver points, but never one to say die, Anderson starts eliminations from the fourth qualifying position after posting an elapsed time of 6.730 seconds at 203.89 mph with a brand-new Rick Jones-built chassis under his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO. "The new car is a step toward next year," said Anderson. "This season we've run two or three different brands of cars - Jerry Haas, Jerry Bickle, and Rick Jones. For some reason we've been rubbing on Jason's (car) and we've really got it happy. So two or three months ago we decided to build a new RJ (Rick Jones) car like Jason's. This is that car. "It is certainly not throwing in the white towel on this year's championship. I think it's going to make me better. I think it's going to be a better situation for me and for the team because now the two cars will be the same. It is by no means going into test mode for just next year. I think it is going to be better for the last two races. It's going to be closer to the dynamite package we have on Jason's car. Rather than fight two different cars, we decided to join Jason."
Other Pontiac qualifiers joining teammates Line (1st) and Anderson (4th) include Tom Martino (6th), Greg Stanfield (7th), Mike Edwards (13th) and Warren Johnson (16th).
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. led the way in qualifying for Team Chevy in his Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo, qualifying seventh with an elapsed time of 4.739 seconds at 323.97 mph. Other Chevy qualifiers include Tony Pedregon (8th), Phil Burkart Jr. (10th), Del Worsham (12th), Gary Densham (13th), and Tony Bartone (16th). Robert Hight in a Ford was No. 1 qualifier with a track-record elapsed time of 4.677 seconds at a track-record speed of 333.08 mph.
In Top Fuel, Chevrolet-sponsored Larry Dixon drove his dragster to the semifinals of the Budweiser Shootout before losing to eventual winner Doug Kalitta. Dixon, a two-time NHRA POWERade champ, has had quite a bit of success in Budweiser's all-star event, taking home the $100,000 top prize in 2002, 2001 and 1995, and finishing runner-up in 2004 and 1997. The Budweiser Shootout is a special race-within-a-race bonus event contested annually for the eight quickest NHRA Top Fuel drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Dixon came into today's contest as the No. 7 qualifier but defeated No. 2 qualifier Melanie Troxel in the first round with an elapsed time of 4.587 seconds at 325.22 mph to Troxel's 8.601 e.t. at 87.98 mph. In the semifinals, Kalitta had an elapsed time of 4.543 seconds at 328.22 mph to Dixon's 4.645 e.t. at 321.58 mph. Kalitta went on to claim the $100,000 winner's check by defeating Rod Fuller in the final.
-credit: gm racing