Jason Line Clinches First NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Title at Las Vegas '04 Rookie of the Year Claims Pontiac's Fourth Consecutive Pro Stock Crown LAS VEGAS, October 29, 2006 - When Jason Line won the Automobile Club of Southern California Road...
Jason Line Clinches First NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Title at Las Vegas
'04 Rookie of the Year Claims Pontiac's Fourth Consecutive Pro Stock Crown
LAS VEGAS, October 29, 2006 - When Jason Line won the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as NHRA's top professional rookie in 2004, it was just a precursor to the success that lie ahead for the talented racer. In just three short years the Minnesota native has gone from heralded rookie to NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion. 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 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.
"I'm just the lucky one that gets to drive this car," said Line. "The guys on the team are really the ones that deserve the credit. I hate to beat a dead horse, but these guys do a heck of a job. For our team to win the championship with two different drivers, I think that says volumes. It's an unbelievable thing. It's been a huge year.
"When we actually took over the points lead at Denver was probably the first time I really thought we had a shot at winning the championship. We ended up taking the points lead then and held it ever since, so that was really the first time (I thought about winning the championship). To be honest with you, the thought never really occurred to me before that. Greg's the man, he's a great driver and I thought he would win."
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," reflected 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.
"Looking back over the past champions in Pro Stock, I can't remember a two-car team that has had four championships in a row with two different drivers winning and two different cars winning those championships. That says a lot about the strength of this team overall both today and for the future. We now know that we can win with both cars. The team, from Jason and I on down, should be proud of what we've accomplished. It says a lot for next year but for now we'll savor Jason's championship."
"We were looking that first year for a top five (in points), hopefully, top-10 finish for sure, and then Greg finished third," said team owner Ken Black. "Then we got three in a row with Greg and once we got rolling, got our own program set up and our own engine program set up where we controlled our own destiny, so to speak, then we felt the sky was the limit.
"I know Greg's disappointed to lose out to Jason, but there's a great work relationship there, and not only work but family and friends. I consider every person at the shop and on the road team part of my family. I love those guys and would do anything for them. We've had basically the same crew for the last four years, and that shows you the quality of people we have. It's really an honor and a privilege to win four championships in a row. My son and I own the team, and I have to give credit to my son - it was his idea to begin with. The Pro Stock team is pretty nice. Summit, GM, and a few of our other people pretty well take care of the Pro Stock team."
Line, a former dyno specialist for Joe Gibbs Racing's NASCAR championship seasons with Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, ran a Rick Jones-built chassis for the entire season, and with its evident success, Anderson debuted a Rick Jones car for the Las Vegas race and plans to run it for the 2007 season. Ironically, Pete Berner won the IHRA Pro Stock championship in a Rick Jones-built chassis under his 2006 Pontiac GTO.
"The KB Racing team is a top-notch organization and they are just a great group to be working with," said Jones. "Greg and I go back a long way, and I've known (co-crew chief) Jeff Perley a long time too. I'm excited Jason ran my car this year and congratulate him and KB Racing on the championship. Pete Berner won the IHRA Pro Stock title, too, in a Pontiac GTO with our chassis, so it's been a great year for us."
Line's march to the 2006 POWERade championship included four national-event wins (Bristol, Englishtown, Sonoma, Richmond) through the season's first 22 of 23 races, eight final-round appearances and six 6 race-day pole awards. Two weeks ago at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., the 1993 NHRA Stock Eliminator champ in the Sporstsman class had a race for the record books as he was No. 1 qualifier, posted national records for elapsed speed (6.558 seconds) and time (209.75), and won the event to score the maximum 138 points for the weekend. His perfect weekend puts him in elite company with the likes of Warren Johnson, Bob Glidden, and Greg Anderson as the only Pro Stockers to accomplish that feat.
"To have your name mentioned with people like Greg (Anderson), Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson and other Pro Stock champions, thinking back, yes it has been a dream - but I always thought of it as a pipe dream," said Line. "To actually have it come true will take a while to sink in. On the other hand, I don't think it's a life-changing experience. It's a neat thing to happen for me, my family and the whole KB Racing team. I think it speaks volumes of our race team and the caliber of the people we have working at KB Racing. I want to thank my wife for putting up with me, and everybody back at the shop for putting up with me too. I was kind of miserable sometimes. A lot of people made this possible. There are many and I can't thank them all but here's a few: My parents for giving me the work ethic and a direction in life, Ken Black and Greg (Anderson) for giving me the opportunity to live my dream, the KB Racing team for giving both Greg and me the best-prepared cars in all of Pro Stock, and a lot of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing - Mark Cronquist and Joe Hornick to name a couple. There are too many to mention, so I'll stop for now."
Line's first career POWERade crown also marks the fifth NHRA Pro Stock title in the last six years for Pontiac. GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson won the 2001 NHRA title during the Pontiac Grand Am's debut season to go with Anderson's trio of championships, and Pontiac leads all manufacturers for most Pro Stock wins in the history of the sport.
"Because of their hard work and dedication, the Ken Black Racing team and Jason Line have reached the very pinnacle of our sport, and we congratulate Jason on his first Pro Stock championship," said Fred Simmonds, GM Racing group manager of drag racing. "Everyone at GM Racing and Pontiac are very proud of what Jason, Greg and the entire team have accomplished during the last four seasons and we wish them continued success in the future."
-credit: gm racing