With three victories in the last four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock events, Jason Line finds himself in a very enviable position in the standings: the No. 1 seed in the Countdown to the Championship that begins this month at zMax Dragway in Concord.
The Mooresville resident, who has two NHRA Pro Stock championships, doesn’t recall the last time he entered the title battle as the top seed, but the second-generation driver knows it provides him with an advantage.
“Anytime you have that kind of momentum I think it’s a big deal, especially if you look at history in our class in particular,” the 45-year-old Line said. “That momentum goes a long way. I’m certainly not willing to trade places with anybody else right now.
“We’ve certainly been here before (title battle) and been in this position before. I think that matters some. It’s not like a new thing for us. We’ve tried to learn from the mistakes we made in the past so we don’t repeat them. I feel good about it. … We have a lot of depth. I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
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Line took the standings lead during the NHRA’s Western swing, collecting victories at Sonoma, Calif., Seattle, and Brainerd, Minn. However, before those victories could be acquired the team had to improve its performance.
“We didn’t run good enough and we didn’t have our process where it needed to be (earlier in the season),” Line said. “Winning in this class is not about magic. It’s about the whole process. We just didn’t have it. There were a lot of little things we weren’t doing well enough, including the engine. We weren’t good enough, plain and simple. Now we are. We’ve got all of the pieces in place and we’re certainly good enough to contend for the win every weekend.”
Line’s third consecutive victory had a rather unusual twist as weather forced the Brainerd event to be concluded at Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals. A Wright, Minn., native, Line had always wanted to win the NHRA’s Brainerd event. He just never envisioned it coming on an Indiana dragway.
“That was a new one,” Line said. “That wasn’t how I planned it, that’s for sure, but it will be unforgettable.”
It was still a sweet victory for Line just “not as sweet” as it could have been. Even though the longest victory streak of Line’s career ended in the U.S. Nationals’ semi-final round, Line acknowledged his Indianapolis performance was better than in previous years.
“I took a different outlook into Indy this year,” said Line. “As a result, I think we got a better finish. We certainly had a car good enough to win the race. In the last five races we hadn’t made a bad run and we made kind of a bad run in the semi-finals. At some point, you’re going to make one. You’re not going to be perfect every time. Drag racing, especially Pro Stock, is a race of thousandths of a second, and a lot of times things aren’t going to fall your way.”
The former head dyno operator for Joe Gibbs Racing, Line has now put Indianapolis behind him and has turned his attention to zMax Dragway. With the team based in Mooresville and Line calling Iredell County home, he believes zMax provides Summit Racing with a home court advantage for the Sept. 12-14 events.
Last fall, Line was the No. 1 qualifier at the Concord facility and he won the September 2012 event.
“I love going to zMax,” said Line, who also has an NHRA Stock Eliminator national championship. “It’s been a good race track for our team. This time of year the weather is starting to cool so I hope it won’t be 95 degrees.”
The father of two and an admitted “home body,” Line also believes the fact he’s at home with his family during the zMax event gives him an advantage over his competitors.
Carolina Speedway to determine champions
Carolina Speedway track champions in SECA Crate Late Models, OWM, Street Stock, Four Cylinder and Renegade will be determined Sept. 12. A week later the track will have Four Cylinder Fury on Sept. 19.
The USCS Sprints will visit the Gaston County dirt track on Oct. 3. Track officials wrap up the facility’s 2014 season with the King of the Carolinas Oct. 16-18.
Fittipaldi extends victory streak
Davidson’s Pietro Fittipaldi earned three victories Aug. 30-31 at Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit in Norfolk, England, as he continued his quest for the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship. Fittipaldi now has eight consecutive victories and has won nine of 11 races this season.
Only four rounds remain in the 15-round season. The next two rounds are Sept. 20-21 at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, England.
McReynolds 3rd in standings
With three races remaining in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West 2014 season, Brandon McReynolds finds himself third in the standings. The Mooresville resident trails leader Greg Pursley by 26 points and the second place Dylan Lupton by 11.
McReynolds is the son of TV analyst and former NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds.
The series’ next race is the Sept. 13 Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park.
Schrader conquers dirt
Concord’s Ken Schrader celebrated Labor Day with a victory and a top-10 finish in two different forms of dirt-track racing at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Southern Illinois. He won the UMP Modified race and then finished sixth in the ARCA event.
Pollard victorious in Street Stocks
Taylorsville’s Chase Pollard, grandson of retired NASCAR driver Harry Gant and son of former Nationwide Series driver Larry Pollard, ended August with a victory in the Street Stock feature at Hickory Motor Speedway. Wayne Edwards from Denver finished second, while Gastonia’s Mark Whitten took third.
In the Bobby Isaac Memorial late model race, Conover’s Matt Percy placed second behind Josh Berry of Hendersonville, Tenn., and Todd Gilliland, from Sherrills Ford, rounded out the top three. Gilliland is the son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland. Midland’s Robert Hapeman won the Classic Sportsman feature. Conover’s Dexter Canipe Jr. emerged victorious in the Limited Late Model race while Sherrills Ford’s Travis Byrd took second.