Two-time Pro Stock world champion Jason Line vaulted to the top of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series point standings with his second victory of the season Sunday at the NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, TX.
Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle were also winners in the second of six events in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Line earned the victory by outrunning Shane Gray in the final round. Line powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to his second Texas Motorplex win with a performance of 6.590 at 211.16 to hold off Gray’s Camaro. With the victory, the 31st of his career, Line claimed the Pro Stock points lead for the first time since 2011.
“I wanted another one of those Wild Bill cowboy hats you get for winning here, and I got it, but having the points lead is really exciting,” Line said. “That’s a big deal. To go from where we were two months ago to being here is a small miracle and a testament to all of our KB Racing guys and all the Summit Racing folks. There has been a lot of effort. We have worked harder than we have in a long, long time, that’s for sure. It’s good to see it starting to pay off.”
Line outran Texas native Rodger Brogdon, reigning world champ Allen Johnson, and veteran V. Gaines in the first three rounds.
“This win is huge, and timing is everything. We still aren’t where we feel we need to be, but the Summit Racing team is competitive,” Line said. “I can assure you that we are going to continue to work to get an advantage. We aren’t going to stop, and we have some very talented folks on the KB Racing team. It’s unfortunate that at the beginning of the year we didn’t show that, but sometimes you have to be willing to go backwards to go forward.”
In Top Fuel, Kalitta claimed his first victory of the season and first since 2010, and moved into a tie for the NHRA Mello Yello Series points lead with the driver he beat in the final round, Shawn Langdon. Kalitta powered his dragster to a run of 3.842 seconds at 320.42 mph to hold off Langdon’s dragster, which finished in 3.896 at 291.32.
“This is huge,” Kalitta said. “It’s a good day for us. I’m really proud of Jim [Oberhofer, crew chief], Troy [Fasching, assistant crew chief], and the whole Mac Tools team. We were qualifying good and going rounds. I was just trying to make sure I didn’t screw it up. At the end of the day, we prevailed.”
Kalitta outran two-time Dallas winner Larry Dixon, rookie Brittany Force, and Texas favorite Spencer Massey, who entered the event as the points leader, to advance to the final round and score his second career victory at Texas Motorplex. Kalitta was impressed with his team’s efforts, giving a special win to crew chief Oberhofer, who is a Texas native.
“They say, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,’ and that was the case in the semifinals versus Spencer,” Kalitta said. “Hopefully this is a good precursor for the rest of the Countdown.”
Funny Car featured a final round battle between two veteran multiple world champions, as Pedregon prevailed in a thrilling duel with 15-time world champ John Force. Pedregon guided his Toyota Camry to his fourth win of the season and 34th of his career with an incredible performance of 4.106 at 312.06 to finish ahead of Force’s Ford Mustang, which ran 4.22 at 270.27.
“A couple months back, I thought about how cool it would be to sweep the Texas races,” said Pedregon, who also won at Houston in April. “Lo and behold, here we are.”
Pedregon, who picked up his fourth win at Texas Motorplex, outran Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, and defending world champion Jack Beckman to advance to the final round. With the victory, Pedregon moved to second in the Mello Yello Series points standings.
“It was an uphill battle,” Pedregon said. “I wasn’t feeling like our motor was running right, but we made the right adjustments every round. It was a great way to put an exclamation point on this event. It’s great for our team. We kind of hung around and built momentum as the race went on.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs continues with the NHRA Midwest Nationals, Sept. 27-29 at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
There are four races left before the champions are crowned.
Pro Stock Championship Point Standings
1. Jason Line 2,264
2. Jeg Coughlin 2,256
3. Mike Edwards 2,230
4. Shane Gray 2,207
5. Allen Johnson 2,190
Funny Car Championship Point Standings
1. Matt Hagan 2,272
2. Cruz Pedregon 2,221
3. Robert Hight 2,209
4. John Force 2,208
5. Jack Beckman 2,196
Top Fuel Championship Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 2,251
Shawn Langdon 2,251
3. Spencer Massey 2,249
4. Morgan Lucas 2,216
5. Tony Schumacher 2,163