Coming off a win in the opening round of the NHRA season, Line is looking to continue the momentum.
CHANDLER, Ariz. – When Jason Line raced to a third career Winternationals victory, one might think it was just a normal day for the KB Racing driver. But for the two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champ, his determination to open the season with a victory wasn’t about him. It was all about his noticeably absent teammate.
It was a very tough situation for Line as well. A two-time Pro Stock champion himself, Line had to adjust to not being able to discuss racing, strategy and life with Anderson. He said he wasn’t quite sure how to approach it at first, even admitting that winning the event hadn’t been on his mind.
“It was very strange to be at a race without Greg,” Line said. “This was the first time that’s happened for me. Before the race, would I have expected to win? I don’t think I could have said with 100 percent confidence that we would win the race, but apparently I need to work on being more positive.”
Line, along with Anderson’s substitute, Jimmy Alund, went out to show the power of the KB Racing team and their Summit Racing Chevy Camaros. The Minnesota native was fast early and qualified fourth, while Alund had a successful qualifying try at 10th.
On race day, Line did what he did best. Knocking out Matt Hartford, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray and V Gaines, Line sent a message that the KB Racing cars were going to be the ones to beat. With the absence of his teammate, Line pointed out that this Winternationals win had more significance than his other two.
“This one is probably the biggest one for me,” Line said. “If I had a top five list of the coolest races I’ve won, this one would definitely be on it. No question.”
With his big win for himself, his team and Anderson, Line now moves on to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Feb. 21-23 in search of more success. The victory will carry momentum forward for the KB Racing team and Line said he would ride it along to Phoenix. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
“No matter what, until we get to Phoenix, the Summit Racing team won the last race and that’s a nice thing to say,” Line said. “It makes everyone at KB Racing feel good about going to Phoenix and we know we have a car that’s good enough to win every race.”
The newly refurbished Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park dragstrip will be a new challenge for many drivers in the series, but Line was one of a group of Pro Stock drivers who were able to test prior to arriving in Pomona. He thinks the improvements will provide a fair test of racing in the Valley of the Sun.
“The lanes should be very equal, and that should make for some great racing,” said Line, who won the Pro Stock category at Phoenix in 2012. “The weather is usually good, and that always helps. Anytime you go to a race after just winning one, it’s fun. You know you can do it, and in racing that’s the best feeling you can hope for.”
Line understands the importance of winning and will continue to focus on leading the KB Racing team forward, but he is also not losing sight of the bigger things in life.
“The most important thing is that Greg is doing well,” Line said. “He’s getting better and actually I got to pick him up from the hospital and take him home. That’s a very positive thing for sure.”
Through the adversity, Line has proven he can win in tough situations. He understands that there are more important things in life than winning and losing but he wants to continue to enjoy his racing until Anderson returns. When he does, KB Racing could be tough to stop.
“We have a great team,” Line said. “We have won a lot over the years and we’re not done yet.”
Line will have tough competition as he goes for his second straight win in 2014. Vincent Nobile rocketed to a No. 1 qualifying position in Pomona and is determined to improve on his semifinal round performance. Defending Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin and Mopar teammate Allen Johnson have both tasted success in Phoenix and will be among the pre-race favorites to do it again. Enders-Stevens is the defending race winner and has proven she has what it takes to win in the desert.
In Top Fuel, Schumacher leads the category with four wins at the facility and will try to add victory number five after a disappointing first round loss at the season-opener. Winternationals winner Khalid alBalooshi, Pomona runner-up and top qualifier Doug Kalitta, defending world champ Shawn Langdon, two-time Phoenix winner Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Steve Torrence and Clay Millican are all hoping to produce a great finish to get an early jump in the points standings.
John Force leads all drivers with eight career wins in Phoenix and the 16-time Funny Car world champ is off to a hot start to the season, setting both ends of the national record on his way to his seventh Winternationals victory in Funny Car and the 139th career win. Capps, the defending Phoenix race winner in the category, made national highlight reels in Pomona following a spectacular engine explosion during Friday qualifying and he wants to bounce back and pick up his first victory of the season. Past Phoenix winners Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Del Worsham, Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon, and Force’s youngest daughter, Courtney, will all be threats to take home the season’s second Wally.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.