Fans of NHRA Pro Stock’s Jason Line and Greg Anderson must feel at this point the exact opposite of every Cleveland Cavaliers fan prior to Cleveland winning the NBA title Sunday night, and ending a 52-year championship drought for the Northeast Ohio city.
As if winning is a foregone conclusion.
At Sunday’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Line powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to his sixth victory of the season and 43rd of his career by outlasting teammate Anderson in the final round. Line sprinted to a 6.668-second pass at 207.59 miles per hour to better Anderson’s 6.694 at 207.62 in his Summit Racing Camaro.
Either Line or Anderson has won each of these first 11 races of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series—the first year of electronic fuel injection set ups in Pro Stock racecars—and now high expectations will remain with Team Summit for the rest of the season after exhibiting total domination.
Tommy Johnson Jr. in Funny Car and Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel will also winners Sunday.
“It’s been amazing,” said Line, who has raced to every final round this season except one. “I am so thrilled to be up here, you just can’t imagine. I am living my dream. The fact that I am getting to do this and have been so successful this year is awesome.”
Line won on a single in the first round when Dave River’s car had a mechanical problem and he couldn’t make the call, had a bye in the second round and sprinted past 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman in the semi-finals to meet Anderson in the final.
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion who sits second in the points standings after winning the other five races this year, defeated John Gaydosh Jr., Shane Gray and Jeg Coughlin in earlier rounds.
Line does the engine tuning for Anderson’s racecar (and Anderson does the same for Line’s), so they are invested heavily in one another’s success.
In Funny Car, Johnson Jr. raced to his first victory of the season and 13th of his career.
He posted a 4.038 at 313.22 in his Dodge Charger R/T to defeat teammate and two-time 2016 winner Matt Hagan’s 4.030 at 317.57 in his Dodge Charger R/T in the final round. Johnson Jr., a two-time Bristol winner, is currently seventh in the points standings.
“We’re just slow starters, but we’re strong finishers,” said Johnson Jr., who has one win in two final round appearances this year. “The guys kept working hard and have kept their heads down. We got hot in Epping with a runner-up finish and we are on a roll now and we’re looking good.”
Johnson Jr. raced past Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria in the earlier rounds. The win secured Johnson Jr. the seventh spot in the specialty Traxxas Nitro Shootout event. The eighth and final spot of the lucrative bonus event held at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend is decided by a fan vote.
Hagan, a two-time world champion with back-to-back wins earlier this season, outlasted two-time 2016 winner Tim Wilkerson, Courtney Force and points leader Ron Capps en route to meeting Johnson Jr. in the final. Hagan moved up two spots to fourth in the points standings.
In Top Fuel, Langdon, making his first final round appearance of the year, raced to a 3.838 at 322.19 in his dragster to defeat teammate and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s 3.934 at 310.70 in the final round. Langdon, who won this event in 2014, claimed his 12th career victory and moved up to sixth in the points standings.
“We really did struggle at the beginning of the year,” said Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel world champion. “Everybody at Don Schumacher Racing came together and everybody there helped out; it’s a big team. I have to thank all the other crews and our Red Fuel crew. This is a big win for us and we are excited.”
Langdon, who secured the sixth spot in the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus event, beat Gainesville runner-up Terry McMillen, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force and points leader Doug Kalitta to make his way to the final round.
Schumacher, who powered his U.S. Army dragster to a runner-up finish last weekend in Englishtown, NJ, drove by J.R. Todd, two-time 2016 winner Steve Torrence and reigning world champ Antron Brown to make his second consecutive final round appearance. Schumacher is fifth in points.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 23-26, in Norwalk, OH.
Sunday’s race was the 11th of 24 slated for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Jason Line 1,263 2. Greg Anderson 1,170 3. Bo Butner 758 4. Allen Johnson 668 5. Drew Skillman 625
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Ron Capps 841 2. Jack Beckman 786 3. Courtney Force 741 4. Del Worsham 701 5. Tim Wilkerson 691
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 926 2. Antron Brown 873 3. Steve Torrence 846 4. Brittany Force 754 5. Tony Schumacher 675
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