Line looking for victory and to regain season momentum at sponsor’s event

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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Jason Line must feel as if he’s on one of the world’s biggest roller coasters. This wild and wacky thrill ride resembles your everyday street sedan but goes through its ups and downs at more than 210 mph.

Though the 2006 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world champion has shown that he’s certainly capable of adding a second championship crown to his resume, at other times, he’s trying simply to hang on as his season speeds sharply into a double loop.

The former head dyno operator for Joe Gibbs Racing on the NASCAR circuit hopes to turn his fortunes around in the hometown of his team owner, Ken Black, who continues the recovery process after recent health issues.

For Line, giving Black the Wally from the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 16-18 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, would be very good medicine. It is something he and teammate Greg Anderson will try hard to do at the sixth of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.

Line was impressive earlier in the season when he beat current category dominator and defending world champ Mike Edwards with a holeshot in the final round at the tradition-rich Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway. He also showed his flexibility in racing to a runner-up finish at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway near his home in Charlotte.

On the other side of the coin, he has suffered first-round losses, at the season opener in Pomona as well as at last weekend’s event in Houston.

It all totals to a third-place position in the points standings as the circuit heads to Las Vegas, where Line has won and Anderson has dominated with six wins since 2003. It’s a welcome site for the team for sure.

“We’ve shown we have the potential to run with the best in our class, but we need to do it on every run,” Line said. “It’s something we’ve been working on nonstop, and I believe we’re making progress. It’s just a matter of time before we get there, but it can’t come soon enough for any of us.”

Line and the rest of the field are trying to catch the runaway locomotive that is defending world champ Edwards, who has continued his domination this season. He has posted three wins in four final rounds in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP and raced to four No. 1 qualifying positions. His series lead now stands at 192 points over second-place Allen Johnson after a semifinal appearance and No. 1-qualifying effort in Houston.

“We’re still chasing Edwards, and although he’s a great guy and we like him, we’re just tired of him having all the fun,” Line said. “We think it’s about time we had some fun, but we want to earn the right to do so by beating him, as well as everybody else, and we’re working hard to do just that.”

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For several seasons, Line and Anderson were the class of the field in their identically prepared Summit Racing Pontiac GXPs. From 2003 through 2006, the duo combined to earn four consecutive world-championship titles, 51 victories, 25 runner-up finishes, and 59 No. 1-qualifying positions.

After such an amazing performance, which no doubt took incredible discipline, late nights working, and much sacrifice for both drivers, one might think that getting up for yet another championship pursuit would take major effort. Line says the team is still hungry. As hungry as ever.

“Motivation is certainly not a problem and never has been,” Line said. “When we get to the shop each morning, our common goal is to find a way to not only put ourselves back at the top of the page, but to keep us there at every race. We’re paid to win, and that is what we want to do.”

Other top contenders in Pro Stock include Team Mopar’s Johnson, second in the points standings, along with Houston winner Coughlin, who has regained his form from last year in the regular season when he won seven races in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt. Greg Stanfield and Bob Yonke have recently formed a partnership and proved to have a solid working relationship; both are anchoring spots in the Full Throttle top 10.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan has led the points standings early with two victories in his Fram dragster. The rivalry between seven-time champ Schumacher and two-time champ Larry Dixon has intensified as each driver seems determined to add to his championship-trophy collection. Doug Kalitta has returned to the championship hunt with three runner-up finishes, and fourth-place Antron Brown is proving that his first two successful seasons in a 7,000-horsepower dragster were not a fluke in the Matco Tools dragster.

John Force headlines one of the best feel-good stories of the season as he has returned to championship form in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car. After enduring one of his worst competitive efforts in 2009, the 14-time world champ is off to a hot start with two victories this season. His longtime rival, Capps, also is running well in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. Force teammates Ashley Force Hood and defending world champ Robert Hight are also among the pre-race favorites, as well as Houston winner Matt Hagan in the DieHard Charger, Jack Beckman in the Valvoline/MTS Charger, and Bob Tasca III in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang
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• SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. April 16 and 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. April 17. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 18.

• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Call The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 800-644-4444 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-644-4444 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or log on to www.LVMS.com to purchase tickets.

• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. ET Saturday, April 17. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 10 a.m. ET Sunday, April 18. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, April 18.

• LUCAS OIL SERIES: The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in six categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8 a.m. April 16. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8 a.m. April 17.

source http://www.nhra.com/

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