Jason Line doesn’t want for much, but a Pro Stock win at Brainerd Int’l Raceway has alwas been one notable exception. Line, who was born and raised in Wright, Minn., not far from Brainerd, technically won the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in 2014, but that final round was delayed by rain and held two weeks later during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. A win is a win, but Line would have preferred to win on his home turf in Brainerd, in front of his family and friends. That became a reality when he stopped Erica Enders in one of the best Pro Stock finals of the year. Separated by two-thousandths of a second at the start, Line’s Summit Racing Equipment Camaro nosed ahead at the finish for a close 6.597 to 6.604 victory. The final margin was just five-thousandths of a second at the finish line stripe.
"As we get older you realize these moments are few and far between and less chance of them happening," said Line. "Right now it feels special and its going to feel even more special later on. I’m super-excited, at least as excited as I get anyway. My dad is a big numbers guy, and he likes streaks. He makes a big deal out of the fact that I’ve won a race every year I’ve been in Pro Stock. So, he puts a lot of pressure on me to make sure that continues so to do it here in front of him is very cool. I’m sure he’s proud and it’s just a great day.
“We had a great car," Line said. "My car and hers [Enders’] were head and shoulders above the others which means it’s a hundredth or two hundredths quicker which doesn’t leave much margin for error. My goal is to not leave first against her. My goal is to be close because she is quicker than I am. I have my monents but she is as good as anyone ever as far as getting her left [clutch] foot out. My goal is to get close to her and to maybe outrun her and we managed to do that today. Certainly, there is respect there.”
Line, who like Enders came into the Brainerd race seeking his first win of the season, kicked off what ultimately became one of the most dominant performances of his career with four outstanding qualifying runs. Line led the field after all four qualifying sessions and ran the table by earning all 12 qualifying bonus points available.
There was a significant weather change for Sunday’s final eliminations, but Line didn’t seem to have any problems adjusting. Line kicked off the run to his 51st career victory with a 6.589 against Wally Stroupe and followed with a 6.583 to stop Alex Laughlin. Line was geared up for a tough semifinal battle against Deric Kramer, who uses engines from the KB Team in his American Ethanol Camaro, but that never materialized after Kramer fouled.
Line hadn’t won since last year’s fall Charlotte event, but now has 51 wins in his career including two in Stock Eliminator, both of which came in Brainerd in 1992 and 1997. He’s also the seventh different winner this season, joining teammates Greg Anderson and Bo Butner, as well as Kramer, Matt Hartford, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Chris McGaha.
Enders, who like Line was seeking her first win of the season, had little to feel bad about after her final round performance that included a .014 reaction time and a competitive elapsed time. The two-time champion drove to her 48th career Pro Stock final by taking out Shane Tucker, Chris McGaha, and semifinal opponent Matt Hartford.
Following the Brainerd race, nine of the ten available Countdown spots in Pro Stock are spoken for. Line, Kramer, Coughlin, Enders, and McGaha all clinched this weekend in Brainerd. The final spot will be decided in two weeks in Indy where Kenny Delco will attempt to hold off Fernando Cuadra, to reach the playoffs for the first time in his career.