The 2016 NHRA season has been a great ride for Team Summit Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line. After taking victory number 12 at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, we talked to Anderson and Line to get their thoughts on the season so far, their dominating winning streak, which one will win the championship, and more.
OnAllCylinders: When the season started, did you have any idea it would turn out like it has?
Greg Anderson: Heck no. A month before the season started we were worried about Pomona, afraid we’d look like fools. But, over that last month, we made a lot of gains and felt like at least we won’t get laughed at. When we got to Pomona, we were actually faster than everybody. That was a pleasant surprise. Now here we are, and not only are we still surprised, we’re shocked.
Jason Line: No. Not a chance. Obviously they (other race teams) didn’t think so either or they wouldn’t have voted for the rules change. So this has been fun.
OAC: How do you stay focused for the long haul—the remainder of the season?
Anderson: By taking it one race at a time. Every race we go to is huge to us. We want to win every weekend we go out. That’s what gives us the gratification, the thrill. We live for the moment. We don’t worry about the Championship the whole time. We care about every single race. It’s cool to win. We love it.
Line: My family. I bring my family with me during the summer. Having them here with me helps me do a better job. Family is all you have. Racing could go away, they won’t. When they’re with me, I feel more focused.
OAC: Is there anything about your program that bothers you,
or that you need to work out to keep winning?
Anderson: No. Everything is really going smoothly. We don’t want to be complacent about it, or think that we’ve got this deal figured out. After this weekend, we want to rush home and work as hard as we can to come to the next race with a faster car than we had the race before.
Crew chief Rob Downing has been perfect. He’s won every race we’ve had this year. The way he manages changing track conditions is where he’s kicking the competition’s butt this year.
Line: No. Not as far as my car goes. We’ve made so many more runs this season. Rob has us running a little more conservatively. We want to go out and set records, but Rob has us racing smart. For me it’s the right way to do it. I don’t know all the pieces to the puzzle. He knows things that I don’t. He has a way of problem solving that works.
OAC: The Pro Stock fields have been short (less than 16 cars) the last several races.
What are your thoughts about that?
Anderson: This has been becoming a problem over the last few years. The aim of the new rules package this year was to attract more racers to the sport. So far this hasn’t been the case, but the biggest problem is there hasn’t been enough time for the part-time guys to make all the changes.
As the season goes on, you’ll see more of the part-time guys coming in. There are 18 pro stock cars here (Norwalk) this weekend.
OAC: Are you aware of other racers preparing to get into the class?
Anderson: There are a couple that are here this weekend that I knew had been working on their cars for a while. There are probably a few more out there that we’ll see on the West Coast, that don’t travel east. There are a lot of regional racers out there that’ll show up.
Line: There are regional racers that are prepping to race in this class. There are a few regional racers here this weekend.
OAC: You’re probably not a big fan of the Countdown this year.
Is there anything you can do to prepare? (Both Greg and Jason secured spots in the Countdown at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.)
Anderson: This year it’s probably not going to be our friend. It goes both ways. You have to be good at the end of the year to win. We all know that.
As far as preparation, you try to build momentum as you go, and learn things before the Countdown so maybe you’re able to step up the performance of your car. Maybe you kept a little in the bank that you were saving back. That’s what most teams try to do. You just hope the other guy isn’t holding back more than you are.
Line: We’re working hard, and we’re searching for more power. We hope we’ll have something better to surprise people. (Laughing) I’m trying to start the rumor that they have actually cancelled the Countdown, but nobody is buying it.
OAC: Reaction times seem to be a little less consistent than in previous years.
Is this a product of the EFI change or staging procedures?
Anderson: They are slower. But reaction time is a mental thing. It’s not an EFI thing. You’re telling yourself ‘don’t screw up.’ There are a million things going through your mind.
Line: No, I don’t think it’s an EFI or staging issue. We are racing in more of a defensive mode because we’re faster. It’s a hard way to race, because you’re trying not to make a stupid mistake (off the line), which actually makes you make mistakes.
OAC: What were the biggest challenges to overcome so far this season?
Anderson: Not making mistakes. We’ve done a good job with our preparation over the winter, coming up with a good product this year, having a performance advantage, but to not drop the ball. That’s something I’m really proud of. There are a million landmines out there.
Line: We have a great race package, so I feel it comes down to the driver. My car has been amazing. There are always going to be mistakes, but our job is to not make them.
OAC: Since there have been six all-Summit finals so far, if team Summit Racing faced-off in the championship, who do you think has the better chance of winning?
Anderson: Right now, Jason. He’s operating at basically 99.9%. I’m probably at 98%. He hasn’t made any mistakes. I’ve made a couple. If the championship was tomorrow, he should be the champion. I’ve done a great job, but he’s done an outstanding job.
Line: I think it’s really even. Equipment-wise it’s basically the same. It comes down to mentally, who can hold it together better. I don’t know. It’s so close you could flip a coin.
OAC: Finally, what would you do to get out of answering any more of these questions?
Anderson: You want to jump in and drive my car? Keys are in it.
(Editor’s note: Clearly the only answer to that offer is ‘yes!’ But in the best interest of everyone, I reluctantly declined.)
Line: You can have some pizza.
(Editor’s note: Not as good as driving the car, but more realistic.)