Jason Line is in uncharted waters in his standout Pro Stock career and it’s a matter he hopes changes at this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The three-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world champ is still looking for his first win of the 2018 season, marking the longest stretch he’s gone to open a year without a victory.
The good news for Line is he is putting things together in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, advancing to a final round in Denver and the semifinals in Sonoma during the Western Swing. Racing at his home track this weekend, the Wright, Minn. native is aiming to break through for a victory with the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship quickly approaching.
“We’re definitely in a better spot than we were four weeks ago,” said Line, who is currently ninth in Pro Stock points. “But that’s the way it is sometimes. You’re going to have ups and downs, and you just have to keep digging. That’s part of racing and especially in this class. The top 12 cars are all good cars and you can’t make any mistakes if you want to win races.”
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 19. It is the 17th of 24 races in 2018 and the penultimate race in the regular season, meaning time is running out for Line to move up in the points heading into the NHRA’s six-race playoffs.
But a big weekend in Brainerd, where Line won in 2014, would go a long way in doing that. Line is less than 30 points away from sixth place in a loaded Pro Stock class that has featured nine different winners in 2018. That winners list includes KB Racing teammates Greg Anderson, the current points leader, and defending world champion Bo Butner, but Line is itching to become the 10th in 2018. The 47-time event winner has recorded at least one win each of the last 14 years and it is an impressive streak he wants to keep going this season.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole and we have to figure out a way to get out of it,” Line said. “We just have to do everything perfect. We should have won at Seattle and I did a lousy job of shifting. The only thing that stopped us was us. But, again, you can’t make any mistakes in this class. You have to be perfect and it’s all about being mistake-free. But there’s no time like the present to get on track. Hopefully we can go out there and get it done this year (in Brainerd).”
To do so, Line will also have to get past the likes of Tanner Gray, who has four wins in 2018, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Erica Enders. But the class standout always enjoys the annual trip to Brainerd to race at the track where he made his first-ever pass in a car. A huge crowd of family and friends will be on hand to watch Line like they do every year, and Line hopes to deliver a memorable show while putting his name into the championship conversation in the process.
“I always enjoy going back to Brainerd,” said Line, who has raced in three finals in 2018. “It’s where it all started for me and I still love the place. It’s always nice to go back. Our guys have gotten the car a little happier and we’re starting to make good progress. All in all, we’ve got a good car. The only thing stopping us from winning is me, so hopefully that’s something I can correct.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:40 and 4:20 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 12:45 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.
Tickets for the race can be purchased at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on tickets at the gate.