Line Completes Perfect Weekend With Pro Stock Win at Richmond Points Leader Widens Lead While Setting National Standards for Time, Speed DINWIDDIE, Va., October 15, 2006 - Cool weather provided atmospheric conditions perfect for racing at this...
Line Completes Perfect Weekend With Pro Stock Win at Richmond
Points Leader Widens Lead While Setting National Standards for Time, Speed
DINWIDDIE, Va., October 15, 2006 - Cool weather provided atmospheric conditions perfect for racing at this weekend's inaugural Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, and Pontiac driver Jason Line was, well, perfect in winning his fourth Pro Stock race of the season. The 2004 Rookie of the Year swept the table in performance numbers with his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, qualifying No. 1, setting new national records for elapsed time (6.558) and speed (209.75), and posting the quickest time in each of the four rounds of eliminations en route to the win. Line scored the maximum of 138 possible points and widened his lead over teammate and three-time defending champ Greg Anderson to 119 points with just two races remaining.
"Obviously, it was an unbelievable weekend," said Line. "I was told a fact that is probably the coolest thing to ever happen to me in racing, the fact that the only other guys who have (had a perfect 138-point weekend) are Warren Johnson, Greg Anderson and Bob Glidden. That's pretty good company for a knucklehead like me to be in, that's for sure. But this is a Pro Stock track if there ever was one. The air was phenomenal. This record's going to stand for a long time. We're going to have to make a lot more power and see some killer conditions for us to go this fast again."
Line came into today's eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier of the quickest Pro Stock field on the strength of his then national record 6.571 e.t. at 209.49 mph, but he quickly alerted fans to his record-setting day when he defeated Erica Enders in Round 1 with a new national record 6.558 e.t. at a national-record speed of 209.75 mph. The 1993 NHRA Stock eliminator national champion then defeated Dave Connolly in Round 2 and teammate Anderson in the semis to face off against fellow Pontiac driver Tom Martino in the final. Martino put up a valiant effort in the final round despite suffering damage to his Pontiac in his semifinal win over Jim Yates, but the Summit Racing Pontiac was on a roll and completed the sweep with an elapsed time of 6.597 seconds at 208.42 mph to Martino's 6.645 e.t. at 207.78 mph.
"Really, I was calm all day and I felt like this was a big weekend for us," said Line, "a deciding weekend where we were really going to make a run for the championship or not. I put a lot of thought into it and it went unbelievably well. Like against Dave (Connolly), you better be on the ball or he's going to send you home. He's done it to me I don't know how many times. But it was a great day and I did a little bit better job of driving this weekend. If I would've done that all year, we would've clinched a couple of races ago, but that's the way it goes. You can't look back on it, you just have to look ahead. It's been a great year and hopefully we can finish it off.
"(Being on the verge of a second championship) is a dream come true, to say the least, and not just for me but for my family and my original circle of friends that I started racing with. It would probably mean as much to them as it does to me. We have a really neat bunch of guys (on this team) with everybody pulling on the rope, and that's hard to find. It may never happen again. It's one of those deals where you get the right people at the right place at the right time, and this is the result."
It was actually an all-Pontiac semifinal round as well as Anderson and Jim Yates joined Line and Martino in the third round of competition. Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO past V. Gaines in Round 1 and Mike Edwards in Round 2 before losing to his teammate Line in the upper half of the semifinal bracket. Line had an elapsed time of 6.588 seconds at 209.17 mph to better Anderson's 6.623 e.t. at 209.26 mph and pad his lead over the three-time defending champ.
"I can blame it on lane choice all I want," said Anderson, "but the bottom line is we both had the same lane in the second round and the first round, and (Jason) flat outran me. He deserved to have lane choice because he earned it. He was head and shoulders above the pack. Now we just have to figure out why we had one car so much faster than the other. He had a rocket ship and he did a great job of driving, and he deserved this win. He deserved that trophy and my hat's off to him. You only get a magical weekend like this in who knows how long, and he made the most of it. It's a proud moment for him, I'm proud of him and the whole team's proud of him. We've got a great 1-2 punch without a doubt."
Yates drove the SeaRay Boats Pontiac GTO to his fifth semifinal of the season. He also has a win at the Pontiac Performance Nationals at Columbus and a runner-up at Houston. Yates defeated fellow Pontiac driver and No. 2 qualifier Greg Stanfield in the first round and Jeg Coughlin in Round 2 before bowing out to Martino in the semifinal round. Both drivers lost traction and got out of the racing groove, but Martino got the better of it with an elapsed time of 9.196 seconds at 140.44 mph to Yates' 9.661 e.t. at 190.75 mph.
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon drove his Advance Auto Parts Chevy Monte Carlo to his third final round of the season as he has a winning effort at the first Las Vegas race this season and a runner-up finish at Denver. Pedregon defeated fellow Chevy driver Tommy Johnson Jr. in Round 1, No. 2 qualifier Robert Hight in a Ford in Round 2, and 13-time Funny Car champ John Force in the semifinal to face another Force Racing driver, Eric Medlen. In the final, a good, side-by-side drag race resulted in a win for Medlen with an elapsed time of 4.814 seconds at 301.00 mph to Pedregon's 4.873 e.t. at 297.02 mph.
In Top Fuel, GMC-sponsored Cory McClenathan made his second final-round appearance of the season, matching his final-round appearance at at Columbus in May. McClenathan defeated Dave Grubnic in Round 1, David Baca in Round 2, and then made a lot of friends in the Top Fuel pits by defeating current points-leader Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. In the final, McClenathan drove his FRAM Boost dragster to his fourth victory here at Virginia Motorsports Park (1999, 1998, 1995) when he defeated Rod Fuller with an elapsed time of 4.644 seconds at 304.74 mph to Fuller's 5.926 e.t. at 262.49 mph. It was the 29th career win for the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., resident but first since Atlanta 2004.
"It has been so long since we've won," said McClenathan. "We did not have the best car out there, but we had the smartest guys working on it. Wes (Cerny, team crew chief), Tony (Shortall, assistant crew chief) and all the guys did a great job today. Wes made sure the car got down the racetrack, especially in the final round. We knew Fuller had a good car and we didn't want to make any mistakes.
"This is a huge morale booster for the team. They gained a lot of confidence and it was exciting to come back here and go four rounds and win another race. The win here also is special because Honeywell (parent company of FRAM) is headquartered in Richmond and we had a lot of company people who watched us win. And it felt good to win for Evan Knoll, who owns Torco Racing Fuels which is an associate sponsor on our car."
In the Sportsman classes, Frank Manzo from Morganville, N.J., had a weekend in Top Alcohol Funny Car similar to the one that Jason Line had in Pro Stock. First he shattered the old national elapsed-time record for the class when he qualified his Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo No. 1 with a 5.469 e.t. at 262.44 mph. To show he wasn't a one-hit wonder, Manzo's Chevy ran like a bracket car in eliminations with elapsed times of 5.477, 5.454 (new national record), 5.455, and a final-round 5.486 to defeat Bob Tasca III. Manzo already clinched his 10th NHRA Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Funny Car title two weeks ago at Reading (Pa.)
"We came here to win the race, not for the records," said Manzo. "It just happened to be that on the way, this Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo decided to do everything all together and set the records. We reset the e.t. record almost every run we made, and we reset the speed record two or three times this weekend. We just had a weekend that I don't know if you can even dream about a weekend like this. The air was good, NHRA prepped the track good, and we just put it together. But we were fortunate. You've got to have luck in this sport, and this was just our weekend."
Other Sportsman winners include Gerry Russo from Saddle River, N.J., in Comp Eliminator in an '04 Cavalier, Gene Daugherty from Salem, Va., in Super Stock in a '67 Camaro, Anthony Fetch from Belleville, N.J., winning Stock Eliminator in an '85 Camaro, and Jason Ayers from Newnan, Ga., capturing the Super Gas title in a '77 Vega.
The penultimate stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the sixth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 26-29.
-credit: gm racing