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NHRA Pro Stock Chase Points Tightens Up as Western Swing Heads to Seattle Pontiac Driver Jason Line New Points Leader KENT, Wash., July 18, 2006 - As the NHRA POWERade circuit makes it annual trek this weekend to the Pacific Northwest, the Pro...

NHRA Pro Stock Chase Points Tightens Up as Western Swing Heads to Seattle
Pontiac Driver Jason Line New Points Leader

KENT, Wash., July 18, 2006 - As the NHRA POWERade circuit makes it annual trek this weekend to the Pacific Northwest, the Pro Stock category has a new points leader for the first time this season, and the season-long battle to unseat three-time defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson is really starting to heat up. The 19th annual Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Pacific Raceways is the middle of three consecutive races that make up the historic Western Swing. Last week the NHRA competitors battled the heat and altitude of Denver's Bandimere Speedway, and after this weekend's race at Seattle the 23-race tour makes a stop at Sonoma the following weekend for race No. 15.

At Denver, Dave Connolly drove his Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt to the Pro Stock win over new points leader Jason Line to become the season's first three-time winner in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class. Despite a slow start to the season with DNQs at Gainesville and Bristol, the Elyria, Ohio, native amazingly finds himself right in the thick of the Pro Stock chase, holding down third place in the standings just 51 points in arrears of Line. Anderson is 29 points ahead of Connolly in second place, the first time he has been out of the points lead since his season-opening win at Pomona.

"We kind of had a rocky start to the season and it's kind of funny to find ourselves in the points chase now," said Connolly. "But ever since (crew chief) Tommy Utt came aboard at Atlanta, this Chevy Cobalt has been a tremendous racecar and we've been to four finals and we got three wins. It's good we got the win at Denver, especially because it's one of those races that is so important in the championship chase.

"We made up some ground on the No. 1 and No. 2 guys in the standings, and that's all we could ask for. It's the best way we could start out the Western Swing. It's a horse race now for the championship, but we kind of knew that going into Denver. We knew these next three races would be pretty critical. We got the hard part done, we got our win, and now we just need to keep winning rounds - keep after it. But Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line) aren't letting up either. They had the two fastest cars out there last weekend, so you know they'll be ready this week."

Line, driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, was No. 1 qualifier at Denver with low elapsed time (7.062 seconds) and top speed (195.65 mph) of the meet, both Bandimere Speedway track records. He and Connolly have now split in final-round battles this year with Line gaining the win at Englishtown last month and Connolly returning the favor last week at Denver.

"All in all, it could've been worse," said Line at Denver following his loss to Connolly. "We came up to the Mountain (Bandimere Speedway) where it's easy to struggle, and the Summit Racing Pontiac ran really good, actually. We came up a little bit short, that's all. Personally, it's the best start to the Western Swing that I've ever had, so to head off to the second race of this set of races with a runner-up is not a bad start. I just need to do a better job of driving."

"It really comes down to crunch time now," said Anderson. "It's the time to make your run. If the guy can come out of the Western Swing with a points lead, if you look at the stats from years past, he's probably going to be the guy with the best chance of winning the championship."

Seattle Pre-Race Stats & Facts

Dave Connolly, driver of the Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt, became this season's first three-time winner in Pro Stock with his win at Denver. The Ohio native also boasts wins at Atlanta and Topeka, along with runners-up at Las Vegas and Englishtown.

Connolly's win at Denver was the fifth victory this year for a Pro Stock competitor in a Chevy Cobalt and the 132nd all-time for Chevrolet in the factory hot rod category.

The most recent tally of the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings shows Pontiac leading with 2,340 points. Chevrolet is in second place in the Manufacturer's Cup standings with 1,700 points and Dodge is third with 1,320 points.

With 393 career round wins, Pontiac GTO driver Jim Yates is just 7 shy of his 400th career round win. Among active Pro Stock competitors, only Warren Johnson (825) and Kurt Johnson (435) have more career round wins.

Greg Anderson holds the Pacific Raceways Pro Stock track speed record set in 2005 in a Pontiac at 207.24 mph.

Kurt Johnson in the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt is the defending event champion in Pro Stock at Pacific Raceways after qualifying No. 2 and defeating fellow Chevy driver Ron Krisher in last-year's final.

Warren Johnson leads the way for the most wins by a GM racer in NHRA Pro Stock competition at Pacific Raceways with four wins (1989, 1991, 1995, 1998). Among current Pontiac GTO drivers, Warren Johnson has four wins, Greg Anderson has two wins (2003-04), Mike Edwards has two wins (1996-97), and Mark Pawuk has a win (1992). Among Chevy Cobalt drivers, Kurt Johnson has three wins (1993, 1999, 2005), and Dave Connolly was runner-up to Anderson in 2004.

Frank Iaconio, engine builder for Pontiac driver Mike Edwards, also has a win in Pro Stock (1979).

On the strength of his runner-up finish at Denver, Pontiac driver Jason Line took over the Pro Stock points lead from teammate Greg Anderson with 897 points. Anderson (Pontiac), who had led the category since his season-opening win at Winternationals at Pomona, is in second place with 875 points. Dave Connolly (Chevrolet) is third with 846 points, Jim Yates (Pontiac) is fourth with 760 points, Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet) is fifth with 730 points, and Mike Edwards (Pontiac) is in sixth place with 714.

Among current Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car drivers, Tony Pedregon has a win (2002) and back-to-back runners-up (1996-97) at Pacific Raceways. Del Worsham also has a win (1999), and Cruz Pedregon was runner-up in 1993 and 2004.

Tommy Johnson Jr., current driver of the Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car, was the event winner at Pacific Raceways in 1993 in Top Fuel with a final-round win over Cory McClenathan.

In the Funny Car standings, Tony Pedregon is in fourth place in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 781 points. Tommy Johnson Jr. is in fifth place in a Monte Carlo with 760 points, Cruz Pedregon is ninth in a Monte Carlo with 586 points and Del Worsham is 10th in a Monte Carlo with 568. Ron Capps is in first place with 1,009.

Qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, July 22, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. Final eliminations from Pacific Raceways can also be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 23, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern.

-gm racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Jason Line , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.