Motorsports / News & Car Culture

NHRA Wrap-Up: Line Stays on Fire, Kalitta Outduels Todd for Closet Top Fuel Win Ever

Eddie Krawiec Doug Kalitta Jason Line

Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, and Jason Line (far right) celebrate victory Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, GA.

Team Summit Pro Stock driver Jason Line is on a historic pace after winning his fourth race of the season Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA.

Line has appeared in all seven final rounds so far in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing season

Joining Line in the Winner’s Circle as Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan in Funny Car, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

The only other Pro Stock driver to win races this year has been Line’s KB Racing teammate and four-time series champion Greg Anderson. And Line does the engine tuning for Anderson’s car (and Anderson does the same for Line’s).

It would be an understatement to call the inaugural season of NHRA EFI Pro Stock racing a success for Line and Anderson, and KB Racing as a whole.

Team Summit Jason Line

Jason Line and Team Summit celebrate the undefeated start to the 2016 racing season.

The two met once again Sunday in the final round where Line drove his Summit Racing-sponsored Chevy Camaro to a 6.611-second at 209.75 miles-per-hour run to better Anderson on a holeshot. This is Line’s 41st career victory and second consecutive at this event, which he’s now won three times. The victory also extends his series points lead. As the #2 qualifier, Line beat John Gaydosh Jr., five-time champ Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson in the earlier rounds.

“We kind of whined and complained about the rules change, but I never would’ve thought that this would be the result of that,” Line said. “It’s a great day anytime you can win in front of your sponsor. This is a very tricky racetrack. I haven’t been on an Atlanta track like this ever. We struggled hard with it, but again, I’m a little bit in awe that I’ve been able to race in all the final rounds this year.”

Anderson raced past V. Gaines in the first round, then had a second-round bye before beating Kenny Delco in the third round to meet Line in the final. Anderson is second in the points standings.

Bo Butner, teammate to Anderson and Line, is third in the points standings and is followed by Drew Skillman in fourth and Chris McGaha in fifth.

In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta raced to his second consecutive victory of the season, winning the closest race in Top Fuel history over teammate J.R. Todd, piloting his dragster to a 3.801-second pass at 323.19 mph to defeat Todd’s 3.780 at 320.66 in his dragster on a holeshot in the final round. Kalitta tallied his 40th career victory and third at Atlanta Dragway. The margin of victory between Kalitta and Todd was .0000 (less than one-ten-thousandth of a second, or a half-inch at the finish line) according to the Compulink timing system. It was the first time since 2006 that two Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel cars decided a final. Kalitta sprinted past Terry Haddock, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and reigning world champ Antron Brown in the earlier rounds.

(Check out the Kalitta-Todd race below.)

“I really didn’t think I had won,” said Kalitta, the Top Fuel points leader. “The last couple of rounds I didn’t see the win light on the wall. J.R. went blowing by me at the end there and I got around the corner and I was very relieved, to say the least. Jim (Oberhofer, crew chief) and my Mac Tools guys have been busting their butts all day long and we were hungry to do well in front of the sellout crowd here in Atlanta.”

J.R. Todd beat Kyle Wurtzel, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force and 2013 Top Fuel world champ Shawn Langdon before racing Kalitta in the final. Todd is sixth in the Top Fuel points standings.

Force and her dragster are second in points. She is trailed by Brown and Steve Torrence in third and fourth, respectively.

In Funny Car, Hagan sprinted to his first victory of 2016 with a 3.965 at 314.90 in his Dodge Charger R/T, beating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in the final. Hagan ended a 19-race winless streak and notched his 19th career victory. Hagan outlasted Chad Head, reigning world champ Del Worsham and points leader Courtney Force to win his first Southern Nats title.

“We’ve been trying to dig our way out of a hole we dug for ourselves in the beginning of the season with a new chassis and some new parts and different things like that,” said Hagan, who currently sits ninth in the standings. “We went back to what we know and pulled our old car back out. We won a championship with it. We all knew it was just a matter of time before we figured it out. We’re really happy to get that monkey off our back.”

Beckman, the # 1 qualifier, made his first final round appearance of 2016 at Atlanta. He raced past Jim Campbell and DSR teammates Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the earlier rounds. Beckman moved to second in the points standings.

Tim Wilkerson, who entered Atlanta tied with Courtney Force for first in the Funny Car points standings, is now third, while Capps is fourth and Robert Hight is fifth.

Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.824 at 196.66 to outlast Jerry Savoie’s 6.851 at 195.79 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final. This is Krawiec’s second victory of 2016, 33rd of his career and fourth at Atlanta Dragway. He has raced in all three Pro Stock Motorcycle event finals this season and has control of the Pro Stock Motorcycle points lead. Krawiec raced to his first career victory at the NHRA Southern Nationals in 2009.

“Atlanta has treated me well,” said Krawiec, a three-time world champ. “I got my first win here and it’s one of those things where if you just feel comfortable and you’re in a groove, you’ll have confidence. For me, I think all of that has fallen into place. The track was a little tricky for us but we were able to figure out our chassis set up and as we made more laps throughout the weekend it got better and better. It was definitely a good, exciting, fun weekend for me.”

Savoie, a Louisiana alligator farmer, beat Michael Phillips, Scotty Pollacheck and top qualifier Angelle Sampey in earlier rounds. Savoie is fourth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings.

Krawiec’s teammate and reigning world champ Andrew Hines is second in points and Hector Arana is third.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Topeka, KS, May 20-22, with the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Sunday’s race was seventh of 24 slated for the 2016 Mello Yello Series.

NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings

1. Jason Line             812
2. Greg Anderson          716
3. Bo Butner              553
4. Drew Skillman          432
5. Chris McGaha           393

NHRA Funny Car Point Standings

1. Courtney Force         522
2. Jack Beckman           482
3. Tim Wilkerson          476
4. Ron Capps              471
5. Robert Hight           458

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

1. Doug Kalitta           586
2. Antron Brown           522
3. Brittany Force         518
4. Steve Torrence         474
5. J.R. Todd              418

NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings

1. Eddie Krawiec          353
2. Andrew Hines           233
3. Hector Arana           207
4. Jerry Savoie           204
5. Chip Ellis             193

The NHRA and Drag Race Central contributed to this report.

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