Jason Line’s early exit from the U.S. Nationals last Sunday proved to be an aberration.
The reigning NHRA Pro Stock world champ regrouped in grand fashion to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday.
Line beat Allen Johnson in a wild final round that saw both drivers have loads of trouble right off the starting line.
Both cars went sideways when they took the green light. Line was headed toward the wall and Johnson the center line.
Line recovered to win with a 7.518-second lap in his Summit Racing Camaro, while Johnson pulled the parachutes early in his Mopar Dodge and slowed to 11.80 seconds.
“This was a very big win for the team and it had not happened in a while, so it feels pretty good,” Line said. “Our Camaro was bad to the bone (Sunday). I shouldn’t say this, but I am going to say it anyway, Allen (Johnson) very rarely does he pedal when he shakes. So, all I knew was I was getting back in it no matter what if I didn’t see him and I didn’t see him. I glanced over one time and I could see the nose of his car, but obviously he was not going any faster than I was. I destroyed the clutch in the process, but who cares? We won the race and it was a big win for us for sure.”
This was Line’s second win this season in his fifth final-round appearance. Line’s other victory came at Phoenix in February.
There was plenty of concern about the track conditions prior to Pro Stock’s final round at 8:40 p.m. Eastern Time since the track temperature was a cool 79 degrees.
Plus, Shane Gray had a spectacular second-round crash that he walked away from, so it is no wonder why track conditions for Pro Stock cars were a hot topic in the post-race press conference.
“It’s tough when you get conditions like this,” Line said. “They (NHRA) obviously sprayed after Shane’s incident, but the race track I thought was really good. It is one of those things that you had to be in the groove. If you were out of the groove, you were going to be in trouble. The final was another story. It was iffy. We kind of ran out of sequence because of the weather and it’s a tough deal. You deal with it the best that you can and it was what it was. Obviously it’s easy for me to say it was good because it turned out good. It was a hard deal and we made the best of a maybe not so great so situation.”
Line actually has experience excelling in cool weather and tricky track conditions.
Back in October of 2006 at the inaugural Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Va., Line in similar cool weather and tricky track conditions beat Tom Martino to win the race and go on and win his first NHRA world championship.
“For some reason, it appears that way,” Line said about his performances in these adverse conditions. “I wish I could tell you why that is whenever there are adverse conditions like this and it is real fast out there we seem to shine. I wish I knew why that was. I do remember that race (Richmond) very well because I set the record and won the event and that doesn’t happen too often. For some reason these weekends that have adverse weather end up helping us.”
The last two NHRA national events, Indy and Charlotte made for some long days with rain delays. When Indy was rescheduled to Sept. 8-9 because of rain it changed the schedule so there would be national events on five consecutive weekends, ending with St. Louis Oct. 4-7.
The hectic schedule isn’t lost Line.
“For us it is (tough),” Line said. “We have had a lot of carnage lately. Greg (Anderson, Line’s teammate) has been tough on equipment here lately. We will make the best of it. Our Summit guys, they do a heck of a job. Carnage is not a good word, especially when you work in the engine department. We have more bullets still.”
With his win, Line moved to just three points behind Johnson for the points lead. Line, however, isn’t taking anything for granted as the Countdown to the Championship has five remaining races.
“It is definitely going to be tough,” Line said. “Winning this race is a big way for us to start. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but if you can get any kind of lead at all it is going to be a big deal because you have such quality cars in the top 10, especially the top six. It is really whoever lets the clutch out first. You are going to have to drive good and crew chiefs are going to have to do a perfect job on every run.”
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