Line leading a big life but looking for more as series rolls into Norwalk
Friday, July 06, 2012
by Kelly Wade
If you ask reigning Full Throttle Series world champion Jason Line – one half of Ken Black’s powerful Summit Racing-backed Pro Stock team – he and teammate Greg Anderson are in the midst of struggle. But have a look at recent history and you’ll be reading a different story. Between Line and Anderson, the team has reached eight final rounds so far this season, and only six of the 11 trophies so far up for grabs were awarded outside of their camp. Anderson has owned the points lead since day one, and Line has been right behind him nearly the entire season, only falling back to third at the first and third events.
One must wonder, though, if part of the key to success is never feeling satisfied. The factory hot rod’s dynamic duo possess a collective six world titles – Line was the 2006 and 2011 champ and Anderson was victorious in 2003-05 and again in 2010. With 102 total wins between them (28 for Line and 74 for Anderson), they tend to be downright scary on the racetrack. Even so, Line is focused on powering through what he considers a rough patch.
“Well, we got off to a good start,” he said. “It seems like when we do that, we struggle in the middle of the summer, and then we get better at the end again. Whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate, we’re on that same path. At some point, I’d like to break that cycle of history repeating itself over and over again. It could be worse, but I just feel like we need to do a better job on some things.”
At the forefront of his mind is their success as a team; however, Line’s biggest threat has been Anderson all year long. Line got the win light in the Arizona Nationals final round in Phoenix at the second race of the season, but it was his counterpart who was in the other lane in each of the other two finals he participated in – the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals in Atlanta and the Toyota SuperNationals in Englishtown – and both times, it was Anderson raising the trophy at the top end.
“It really doesn’t matter right now,” said Line. “As long as one of us is winning, it’s all good. Last year at this time, I sort of had his number, but everything goes in streaks and nothing lasts forever. This won’t either. I’d rather he beats me now than in September. All of this is just practice and preparing for that time, and sure I’d like to win more races – but right now, as far as the points, it means nothing.”
Line, a grassroots drag racer who can often be found on the starting line watching the wheels-up action of Stock and Super Stock at any given national event, certainly doesn’t take the sport lightly – but he does allow himself to appreciate the incredible moments as they are presented, and this year there have been plenty, including the 100th win for the KB Racing organization (accomplished in just a decade) and the debut of two brand new Chevrolet Camaros; Anderson’s red Summit Racing Camaro arrived on the scene in Englishtown and went right to the winner’s circle to capture the 100th, and Line brought out the eye-catching blue version at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol and was the No. 4 qualifier out of the box. He was No. 2 at the very next event, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals in Chicago.
“I think as I get older – I don’t know if these things are any more special, but maybe they mean more because you realize how hard it is to do this. It really is a big deal that we do well, and not just for us but for Ken and Judy Black, our team owners. To have them there at Englishtown for the 100th KB Racing win, that was a big deal. We’ve had a lot of those special moments that a lot of folks haven’t experienced, and I feel very fortunate.
“I don’t think anyone else has been able to [reach 100 wins] in such a short period of time. It makes us the most successful two-car Pro Stock team ever assembled, and that is very cool. I’m very proud of all the folks that made it happen, because Greg and I are just the two knuckleheads that get to drive these cars.”
The Minnesota-native will take his good fortune to a new level when he drives Wayne Jesel’s Dodge pick-up truck at this year’s Speed Week at the Bonneville salt flats between the NHRA national events in Seattle and Brainerd; but dear Bowtie lovers, have no fear – there will be a massive Chevy engine under the hood.
“That’s one way to make a Dodge go fast: put a Chevy in it,” joked Line, a five-time low qualifier this year. “In all seriousness, we’ve been talking about this for a few years, and Wayne Jesel is the one who definitely got me interested in it – I never thought much about it, but between Wayne and the movie The World’s Fastest Indian, I became a Bonneville fan. I’m excited, and it should be fun. My family is coming with me, and a lot of the guys from the shop will be there. This is a once in a lifetime thing, and I appreciate the fact that Wayne has given me the opportunity to do it.”
For the entire KB Racing/Summit team, there are some serious thrills written into the immediate program with the special Pro Stock race-within-a-race, the K&N Horsepower Challenge, scheduled to take place at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk – their sponsor’s title event.
“Obviously, the K&N Horsepower Challenge is a big deal,” said Line, whose teammate has scored the win three times. “I’ve never won it, and I want to cross it off my list this year. K&N does a lot, not just for Pro Stock, but for all of drag racing. They make great products, and they’re a great sponsor, so it would really be an honor to win the shootout.
“We have really high expectations for this weekend overall. We need to come out of there with a win, one of the two of us. Hopefully we can do a better job of qualifying, get on opposite sides of the ladder, and make that happen. I know we’re capable of it, we just have to do it.”