Many of the NHRA Mello Yello series pros didn’t arrive in Indianapolis until Thursday but one notable exception is Pro Stock racer Jason Line. Fresh off his popular win at his home track in Brainerd, Line is looking to improve his spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs but before he climbs behind the wheel of his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro Friday night, Line decided to do what he normally does in Indy, which is have a bit of fun in Stock Eliminator.
Line kicked off Indy week driving in Stock with his prized ’70 Buick Grand Sport, the same car that he drove to the Stock Eliminator national championship in 1993. With a 455-cid Stage 1 engine, Line’s Buick a quintessential big block muscle car, and it was the talk of the sportsman racing pits after he uncorked a 10.00 elapsed time on Wednesday. A ten-second run might not seem impressive, but it is when one considers the strict rules the govern Stock eliminator, and the fact that the car weighs more than 3,600-pounds, it’s extremely competitive. Stock Eliminator rules are much different than Pro Stock rules, so most of the exotic technology that allows Line’s Summit Camaro to run in the sixes at over 210-mph is null and void in Stock. The key word there is “most” of the technology. Line obviously knows a few tricks when it comes to building engines, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him hover near the top of the qualifying chart.
“This [Stock Eliminator racing] is where I got started and it’s still something that’s near and dear to me,” said Line. “If you know me, you know that the thing I enjoy most is building engines and working on cars and finding ways to make them quicker and faster. Stock is a big challenge because there is only so much you can do within the rules. You can’t just take out a bunch of weight or bolt on a bigger carburetor. You’ve got to work hard for every thousandth of a second, and in that respect, it's actually a lot like Pro Stock.”
Line made several more attempts to coax a nine-second run from his classic Buick but couldn’t get the job done either in qualifying or Thursday’s Stock class eliminations. He did however, manage to crack the 130-mph barrier with a 131-mph pass. Line also came up a bit short in his bid to win the C/Stock Automatic class title when he lost to the new Camaro of Louisiana’s Bobby Brannon. It might seem like a horrible mismatch to race a 50-year old Buick against a 2015-model fuel injected Camaro, but Line enjoys the challenge and made the race much closer than many expected it to be with a 10.015 that fell to Brannon’s 9.990.
“This is what drag racing is all about,” said Line. “I lost to Bobby last year and it wasn’t close. This time, I made him work for it. We talked down at the scales and he said, ‘Man, I could see you the whole way.’ I’m pretty impressed with that 131-mph time slip. We did a few things to this car since the last time I raced it and I guess a few of them worked. I’ve still got one more shot to run in the nines [Saturday morning’s first round] and I’m going to give it my best shot.”
Line will shortly shift his focus to Pro Stock, where he’s coming off one of the most impressive wins of his career two weeks ago in Brainerd. Line not only earned his 49th career Pro Stock title, but he also had low E.T. in all four qualifying rounds. Line moved to fourth in the standings following his Brainerd win and he could improve his playoff seed to second or third with another strong showing at the sport’s marquee event.
“You'd like to think that the momentum could carry on into the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, but the truth is that one little event can change everything,” Line said. “It's a tough sport, and right now, everybody is so equal; there is no margin for error. You have to have a little bit of luck as well, and I had that in Brainerd. You just hope that carries on. But all of that is what makes it so special when you win. It's a big deal going to Indy with at least one win for the season. We might not be able to get into the Countdown in the top spot, but you want to be near the top. That's what we're aiming for.”