Entering Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO Jason Line and the Summit Racing Camaro crew knew they had their work cut out for them racing in the thin air at Bandimere Speedway, conditions that the team had fought en route to their fifth starting position. Fortunately, the elevated temperatures the team had dealt with throughout qualifying abated slightly on Sunday, allowing Line to shave four hundredths off his best elapsed time, covering the quarter-mile in 6.948 seconds with a top speed of 197.10 miles per hour in his first round defeat of newcomer Deric Kramer.
In the second round, Line used a nearly two hundredths of a second starting line advantage to overcome a mechanical issue and post a 7.011-second time to hold off veteran Ron Krisher, who recorded a 6.996-second time, for the holeshot win, advancing to the semifinals for the ninth time in this season’s 13 races.
The final obstacle between Line and his third Bandimere final round was top qualifier Allen Johnson, who had posted the quickest elapsed time in every qualifying session as well as the the first two rounds of eliminations. Once again, Line gained the edge at the starting line, using a nearly-perfect .007 light to leave nearly two hundredths of a second ahead of his opponent. Unfortunately, his 6.971-second, 196.64 mph pass fell just shy of holding off his rival’s 6.936-second pass, putting an early end to his day.
Even though his performance allowed the reigning Pro Stock champion to secure his position in this year’s Countdown to the Championship playoff, he was nevertheless disappointed at not being able to score his second win of the 2012 season.
“For some reason, we just never got a good handle on the mountain this weekend” Line said. “We did not test here before the race and the two cars that ended up in the final (Johnson defeated Coloradan V. Gaines for the win) did, which obviously helped them. Even though we ended up with a decent day, you hate to give any of them up.
“We’ll leave here and go to Sonoma, where the conditions better suit our tune up and hopefully we can rebound and put one of these Summit Racing Camaros in the winner’s circle.”
After struggling in qualifying, Line’s KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson knew his team would need to show improvement in order to contend Sunday. Starting from the ninth position, Anderson responded to the challenge in the first round, using a stellar .014 reaction time to gain the advantage on arch rival Jeg Coughlin and never looked back, stepping up to a 6.978-second elapsed time and 197.28 mph top speed to gain the round win.
Anderson’s reward for his strong opening performance was an encounter with Johnson, who was driving the most dominant car throughout the weekend. Although the four-time champion was able to make a solid 6.988-second, 197.13 mph pass, it was not enough to eclipse his opponent 6.945-second, 198.15 mph effort. Despite being the first driver in the Pro Stock category to lock into this year’s Full Throttle championship playoff, he was more concerned with his team’s performance in the trying conditions at Bandimere Speedway.
“We knew coming into this race that since we did not test here, we would be a little behind the eight ball,” Anderson said. “As a result, we needed every run we could make, and when we missed that first qualifying pass, we found ourselves fighting to catch up, and just ran out of runs. Because we struggled in qualifying we had to run the toughest car on the grounds in the second round, and we needed a couple more passes worth of tuning data to really take the fight to him.
“The news wasn’t all bad, as our Summit Racing Camaro was able to get an important first round win, which was the bright spot of our weekend. It’s always a big deal when we race that yellow Mopar, and it’s a good day any time we can take him out. Still, we’re disappointed with our overall performance, and it shows that we have a real issue with the mountain. It’s expensive to come up here and test, and it doesn’t guarantee anything, but you can mark it down that we will be here next year, doing whatever we can do to find the right tune-up.”
Pro Stock point standings
1. Allen Johnson 1,104
2. Greg Anderson 1,085
3. Jason Line 1,072
4. Mike Edwards 895
5. Vincent Nobile 884