One year ago, Summit Racing driver Jason Line came into zMAX Dragway for the first race of the Countdown to the Championship and immediately staked his claim for the title, powering from the #1 position to a runner-up finish. It was the start of a series of three races where Line would score two wins and set both ends of the national record, essentially scoring a knockout blow en route to his second Full Throttle Championship.
As the world’s best quarter-milers prepare to return to the Tar Heel State this weekend for the 5th annual NHRA Nationals and the start of the six-race 2012 championship run, Line would naturally like to duplicate that showing, although he admits that this year’s competition might make it a little tougher. Even so, he was quick to stress the importance of having a strong run in this opening encounter.
“Getting off to a good start in this first race of the Countdown is absolutely huge, especially this year, when the competition is tighter than it ever has been,” Line said. “Defending our title is going to be tough, with every round being important considering how well AJ (Allen Johnson), Mike (Edwards), my teammate Greg (Anderson) and Erica (Enders) are running.
“The good news is that we’re getting closer with our Summit Racing Camaros, and this KB Racing team is more than capable of delivering another championship performance. But to do that, we will need to do a better job than we have at the last few races. At this point in the season, if you want to stay in contention, there is absolutely no room for error, so we’ll need to be on top of our game right out of the box this weekend in Charlotte.”
In order to accomplish his goal, Line will need to add zMAX Dragway to his list of many successes. Located a short half-hour’s drive from the KB Racing team’s shop in Mooresville, it is considered their home track, a fact not lost on Line, who appreciates any benefits they can gain during a drive to what they hope will be another championship.
“Last year we were able to deliver an early knockout punch, but this year will be different because there are more good cars all capable of winning. I think it’s going to be a battle that will go down to the last race in Pomona. Fortunately, we seem to be gaining ground on our Summit Racing Camaros and I believe we have a good tune-up for Charlotte, so we should be good and I like our chances for doing well there. If we do it will then be a matter of carrying that momentum through the remaining five races and seeing where we stand when the dust settles.”
The one question mark seemingly facing Line and his KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson entering this year’s playoff was their race cars. As the newest chassis among any of the competitors who qualified for the 2012 Countdown to One, the talented tandem had admittedly struggled to get a handle on the tune-up for most of the summer. However, having finally had a chance to get in some extensive testing over the last few weeks, Anderson is confident their sleek new Camaros will now have the performance to match their looks.
“We tested at zMAX last week with our Summit Racing Camaros and ran very well, so we are expecting to run just as well when we go back there this weekend,” Anderson said. “I know it’s been a battle to get these new cars up to speed, but we’ve been running the wheels off these cars since coming home from the West Coast, and I believe we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor.
“We feel like we’ve made progress and gained some performance to where we think we’ll have our best chance in the last 3-4 months to win an event. Are we going to go out and dominate the race? Probably not, but we are definitely going to give AJ, Mike, Erica and everyone else a run for their money. Of course it takes some racing luck and proper execution with the car as well as the driver being perfect, but I think we’re finally getting close to getting back in our groove. Let’s just say we’re expecting a big weekend.”