Reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jason Line is fully aware of the pressures facing his Summit Racing team as they head to this weekend’s SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev. After all, this will be the ninth time he will have raced in his sponsor’s race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as the 18th time he will have competed in his team owner Ken Black’s home town.
However, rather than focusing on any added demands, as he prepared to head west the 28-time national event winner preferred to think of the rewards for doing well in this situation, as he did at this event in 2008, when he powered from the second starting position to defeat Greg Stanfield in the final and capture his first Las Vegas Wally.
“There are so many reasons we want to do well in Las Vegas,” said Line. “It starts with Ken and Judy Black and Kenny Jr., who do so much for us and without whom we wouldn’t have a race team. On top of that, it’s one of the three Summit Racing Equipment races. They are obviously a big part of our program, and there will be a lot of the top executives coming out to watch us race, so we want to reward them as well for their support.
“Finally, Las Vegas is also home for Findlay Chevrolet, who have backed us for many years. I know Cliff and many of his staff will be coming out to the track, so we certainly want to do well for them. This weekend is obviously one of the biggest on the schedule for us, and there’s nothing better than having them all join you in the winner’s circle on Sunday night. I’ve done it once, and it’s a great experience, so I would like nothing more than to do it again this weekend.”
Based on his performance in the first three races, with a win in Phoenix and sitting third in the championship standings, Line will most likely be considered one of the favorites in Las Vegas. Even so, he feels there is need for improvement as the team moves forward, looking to extract their full potential.
“Overall, I would give us a B for our performance in the first three races,” said Line. “We’ve obviously done fairly well, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in several areas, including the driver. Basically, we need to make more power and make better runs so we can take full advantage of what this Summit Racing Pontiac has to give us. Right now, I’d have to say it’s a work in progress.”
Finally, since the last race in Gainesville, teams have had a little over two weeks to work on their program for the busy stretch that lies ahead. During that time, the KB Racing team has spent long hours at the shop and the track testing new ideas, looking for ways to improve their performance. As Line describes, it was a crucial period that could pay dividends as soon as this weekend.
“These last two weeks have been huge,” said Line. “After all, the more time we spend at the shop, the better off we will be. There’s only so much time during the season to work on your program and you need to take advantage of it, because you certainly can’t do any development work when you’re racing. We know what we do now will pay off in the future, which includes this weekend in Las Vegas.
“Going into this race, there are not a lot of people with whom I would trade places. Our Summit Racing Pontiac has been extremely fast in the first three races, and we’re confident it will be again this weekend. We have the hot rods, so it all comes down to executing on race day, with everyone doing their jobs. A very big win is right there in front of us, and it’s up to us to go and get it.”
Jason Line & the Summit Racing Pontiac crew
By the Numbers – The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway edition:
1 – Wins by Jason Line at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway prior to this weekend, which came at this event in 2008.
2 – No. 1 qualifying performances by Jason on The Strip, most recently at the fall race in 2006.
4 - Final round appearances made by Line at LVMS heading into this weekend, most recently at the fall race in 2010.
9 - Finishes of the semifinals or better in Line’s 17 previous starts in the Nevada desert.
25 – Elimination round wins scored by Line in his previous 17 LVMS starts versus 16 losses for a 61. round win percentage.
Friday, March 30: Two qualifying sessions at 2:00 & 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 31: Two qualifying sessions at 11:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 1: Final eliminations starting with Top Fuel at 11:00 a.m.
Television Coverage (all coverage on ESPN2):
Qualifying: Saturday, March 31 – 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Eliminations: Sunday, April 1 – 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
(All times Eastern)