Events / Motorsports

Race Preview: Line Looks for Father’s Day Victory, Successful Camaro Debut

As a second-generation racer, reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jason Line has spent his share of Father’s Days at tracks across the country. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this year’s edition will find him at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, TN for this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

However, with his father Lawrence watching from the family homestead in Wright, MN,  the Summit Racing driver will be marking the occasion with his family, including his wife Cindy, daughter Emma and son Jack, who has already shown an interest in following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. With his personal cheering section in attendance, Line will have added motivation for scoring his second win of the 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing season.

“My first few Father’s Days racing in Pro Stock I did really well, which is something I’d certainly like to get back to this weekend,” Line said. “The most important thing, however, is that I will have my family in Bristol with me. My kids, and in particular my son Jack, have gotten to the age where they really enjoy coming out to watch me race, making for a fun weekend no matter how we do on the racetrack.

“However, Jack is old enough now that he understands the concept of winning and losing, so he’s not too thrilled that I haven’t won since Phoenix. Who knows, this could be the perfect weekend to rectify that situation. After all, it would be nice if we could bring out my new Summit Racing Camaro in the same fashion that Greg (teammate Anderson) did in Englishtown (where he won in its competitive debut.)”

As noted, this weekend’s race will be Line’s first in his new Chevrolet Camaro. In many ways it will be a new look for the 28-time Pro Stock national event winner with its stunning blue paint scheme replacing his familiar orange livery from the previous few seasons. One item that he certainly hopes will remain constant during the changeover is the high level of performance the team has shown all season with one win in three final round appearances and a class-leading five No. 1 qualifying performances, placing him second in the championship standings heading into Bristol.

“It’s exciting to have a new car, especially one that has so much history in Pro Stock,” Line said. “The Camaro is a really cool muscle car powered by an American V8 making a lot of horsepower, which is the way it should be. In fact, I wish I had one to drive on the street.

“Having said that, we’ll definitely have our work cut out for us this weekend learning what this particular car needs to run. You realistically can’t expect it to be at the same level as our old Pontiac right out of the box, but if anybody can pull it off, it would be the guys on this Summit Racing team, who do a heck of a job every time out. After a single day of testing we haven’t exactly bonded, but let’s say we’re coming to an understanding. However, we can already tell it’s going to be a great car.”

Anderson Going Back to the Beginning in Bristol

In only his 30th start, he shocked both himself and his fellow competitors, starting from the ninth position and defeating established veterans Allen Johnson, V. Gaines, and Mark Osborne in the early rounds before squaring off against two-time champion Jim Yates in the final. Gaining the advantage at the starting line, the Minnesota native never looked back, using a 6.993-second, 196.85-mile-per-hour pass to gain the holeshot victory over his much-heralded opponent and score his first national event win.

“Although I’m a little cloudy on the specifics of that particular day, I do remember I was not expected to win,” Anderson said. “After all, I was driving an older Pontiac Firebird at a time when the top teams were running the smaller and more aerodynamic Chevrolet Cavaliers and Grand Ams and I was basically running to gather more data for George’s car.

“Still, we were somehow able to pull off the win and I suddenly found myself in the winner’s circle with Fred Simmonds, who was the head of the drag racing program for General Motors at the time and the folks from Mac Tools, who were then the event sponsors. I recall we were all looking at each other wondering exactly who everyone was, but it actually turned out to be the start of the program we have today with this Summit Racing team. Mac Tools became one of my first sponsors, and I established a relationship with General Motors and Ken Black decided to start his own team. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Now, 11 years later, Anderson returns to Thunder Valley as one of the top racers in the history of the “factory hot rods” with four championships and 74 national event wins to his credit, a total that includes two trips to the Bristol Dragway winner’s circle. However, with his last Tennessee quarter-mile victory coming in 2004, he is more than ready to make a return appearance, a confidence bolstered by recent performances under similar tuning conditions.

“I will always love Bristol Dragway because it’s where I won my first national event,” Anderson said. “I am also extremely partial toThunder Valley because of the facility and its tremendous history. It’s a Bruton Smith-owned track that is very well run and promoted, making it a fun weekend for the racers and the fans. However, for the last few years it has been the type of track that has been our Achilles’ heel, having a little bit of altitude where the cars don’t run that fast.

“The good news is that I believe we’re finally turning the corner in that area based on our performance in Topeka where the atmospheric conditions are fairly similar to what we’ll see this weekend. Based on that, I think our outlook for Bristol will be completely different this year. I expect our Summit Racing Camaro is going to be fast with a good chance of winning the race.”

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