Eleven weeks after leaving California as the 2011 NHRA Pro Stock champions, Jason Line and the Summit Racing team will return to the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona ready to start their title defense at the season-opening Winternationals, the first of 23 stops on the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing circuit.
Their plan is to duplicate their Pomona performance from a year ago, when Line charged out of the 11th starting position and defeated an all-star cast that included teammate Greg Anderson en route to the win, the first step on the road to his second career championship. Armed with the same talented crew and record-setting race car that carried him to the title, it is easy to see why Line is ready to return to racing.
“The Winternationals is one of the races you always look forward to, because it’s the start of the new season, and you can’t wait to get back in the race car,” said Line. “It’s been a long winter, and this will be the second year in a row that I won’t have driven my Summit Racing Pontiac at all until a few days before the first qualifying session on Thursday. It worked out pretty well for me last year, and we’re hoping to have the same result again in 2012.”
“Unlike the last few years where we had numerous distractions with Ken’s (team owner Black) health issues and numerous fires, the off-season has been relatively quiet, allowing us to focus on improving our race program. Although we believe we’ve made some progress, since we didn’t do any real testing, we won’t find out how we did until we let the clutch out in the first qualifying session on Thursday. Even so, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Despite the lengthy separation between seasons, Line has had little time to sit back and enjoy his tremendous 2011 campaign. Immediately following the last race, he was among a group of Team Summit drivers who traveled to Ramstein AFB in Germany as part of an Armed Forces Entertainment-sponsored trip to visit the troops. Upon his return, he spent countless hours and numerous gallons of fuel working on the dyno at the KB Racing shop in Mooresville, NC, exploring every option in the never-ending search for horsepower.
However, without the benefit of any testing to verify the results of their efforts, the two-time champion is anxious for the year to begin, approaching this initial race with cautious optimism while simultaneously excited by the prospects that lie ahead.
“I am ready to get to Pomona and get this year started,” said Line. “We have some exciting things in store for this season, such as the introduction of our new Chevy Camaros. This will be the first time in my Pro Stock career I’ll be racing a real muscle car, which is what this category was based on, so I can’t wait to drive one. Unfortunately they won’t be ready for this weekend, so we’ll just keep using our tried and tested Summit Racing GXPs, which are good cars and more than capable of getting the job done.
“We’ve been in the shop long enough. It’s time to head out to the track and see how well we did with all that hard work during the winter. Even though it’s been nice being home, and we’ve had a mild winter here in North Carolina, I’m ready to be out in the California sunshine. The Auto Club Raceway has been a good track for the KB Racing team, and we’d like to add to that record this weekend. After all, we’re looking to successfully defend our title, and the best way to do that is winning races, which is exactly our plan for this weekend.”
Jason Line & the Summit Racing Pontiac crew
By the Numbers - The Auto Club Raceway at Pomona edition:
2 - Wins scored by Line at the Winternationals heading into this weekend, including one year ago.
3 - Finishes of the semifinals or better in Line’s 8 previous starts at the NHRA season-opener.
4.63 – Average starting position for Jason in 20 career Pomona starts, with only two starts outside the top half of the field.
12 – Elimination round wins scored by Line in his previous 8 Winternationals starts versus 6 losses for a 66.7 round win percentage.
Thursday & Friday, February 9 & 10: A single qualifying session at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 11: Two qualifying sessions at 11:00 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, February 12: Final eliminations starting with Top Fuel at 11:00 a.m.
Television Coverage (all coverage on ESPN2):
Qualifying: Saturday, February 11 – 11:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Eliminations: Sunday, February 27 – 7:00 - 10:30 p.m.
(All times Eastern)