Can Jason Line find the winners circle at the Spring Nationals?
Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line already has his bags packed for the 27th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals, and it is no wonder that the 32-time national event winner is eager. He returns to Royal Purple Raceway this weekend as the defending event champ, and he will have his Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson once again by his side.
Anderson missed the first five races of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series as he recovered from heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve, and although slated to return at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta in mid-May, he worked hard and will return to the series one race earlier than anticipated. European Pro Stock champion driver Jimmy Alund did a fine job filling the seat while he was away and won the most recent race on the tour, the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, but the win for Summit Racing only served to ignite a bigger fire under the already motivated team. They want more.
"I'm glad to have Greg back this weekend, and I think it's great that he's making his return in the car that won last week," said Line, who scored the victory at the 2014 season opener in Pomona and finished in the final round in Las Vegas last month, narrowly missing a SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals win. "I really believe that both of the Summit Racing Camaros are going to be good enough to win this race in Houston. That's a good feeling going there, and it will just be up to my teammate and me to follow through."
Line's win last season in Houston was particularly memorable as it occurred in front of a live television audience, a rarity due to the unpredictable timeframe for championship eliminations at a drag race. This year, ESPN2 will offer live coverage at three national events (Epping, Chicago and Denver). Although Houston will not be televised live, Line is certainly looking forward to a return and what he hopes will be a repeat performance.
"That track has been good to me, so I'm really looking forward to racing my Summit Racing Camaro there again," said Line, who has two wins in four final rounds and has twice been the low qualifier at Royal Purple Raceway. "Last year's win there really stood out for me because it was on live TV, and I don't think I've ever gotten so many phone calls or text messages in my life. Even though it won't be live this time around, I'm looking forward to the live shows that ESPN and NHRA are planning. We've got some great memories going back there, and we plan on making a few more this weekend, I can promise you that."
Line went to the first final round of his Pro Stock career at the Houston racetrack, where he ultimately fell in the final round to Anderson. It was the first of five final-round meetings for the Summit Racing duo that season, including the event in Chicago two races later where Line would beat Anderson to earn the first Pro Stock victory of his career. Over the course of their time together as the 1-2 punch of KB Racing, Line and Anderson have raced one another in 21 all-Summit Racing final rounds and accumulated six combined world championships (two for Line, four for Anderson).
"The most exciting thing for the KB Racing team this weekend is that Greg will be back," said Line. "He's obviously amped to say the least. I've never met anyone who has a stronger desire to win, and I can assure you that after missing five races it'll be stronger than ever. His enthusiasm is something that we're all feeling right now."