Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – NORWALK, OH – Jason Line has watched his KB Racing teammates succeed repeatedly to open the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. But headed to one of the most important races of the season, Pro Stock standout Jason Line is ready for that momentum to start swinging his way, especially at this weekend’s 13th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Performing well in Norwalk is of utmost importance for Line and his Summit Racing Equipment teammate Greg Anderson, and Line is ready to unleash his Chevrolet Camaro after a two-week break during the new 18-race Pro Stock schedule in 2019. Line has advanced to two final rounds this year, but there haven’t been as many highlights as he’s hoped for, something he’s determined to change this weekend in Norwalk.
“I feel like all the KB cars are running well, but the two Summit cars, we’ve not had the success we want,” said Line, who is fourth in Pro Stock points. “Hopefully we can get one of the two in the winner’s circle this weekend. We’re ready to do it and both cars are getting close. This would be an opportune time, that’s for sure. We’ve got a lot of racing ahead and we’re looking forward to getting back out there. This track has been good to us, so hopefully we can have some more success.”
Blake Alexander (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including final eliminations coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 23. It is the seventh of 18 races during the 2019 Pro Stock season, and Line will try for his first win of the 2019 season and third overall at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Anderson has three to lead Pro Stock, but this season has belonged to KB Racing teammate Bo Butner, who has four wins this year. Deric Kramer added another Wally to the stable at the most recent Pro Stock race in Chicago, and Line is looking for some of that action. He has seen glimpses, but the success hasn’t been on the level Line has wanted through the first six races. He’s been a top-two qualifier the last two races, which gives Line something to build on in Norwalk.
“We need a little bit of momentum,” Line said. “We need to get things to start rolling and good things to start happening. If you win the championship, nobody will remember the struggles at the start of the season. The start of the year hasn’t been what I hoped, but you can make all that go away if you start running well now. All of these cars in the class are so evenly-matched. It’s tough and you’ve got to be mistake-free out there.”
That’s because Line has to race against all his teammates, plus the likes of two-time world champion Erica Enders, Alex Laughlin and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. But Line knows there’s something special about racing in Norwalk. His week is filled with Summit-related activities, immediately building the excitement for the event. Line doesn’t mind the extra pressure and he’s simply looking to break through on Sunday.
“You want to do well in front of your sponsors, that’s for sure,” Line said. “You don’t really have to try to do anything different, but I’ve got to get better and being focused and staying focused. The Bader family does a heck of a job. I love coming here and I would like to get another one of those ice cream scoops (given to the winners).”
Top Fuel defending world champ and points leader Steve Torrence will try to add another win against the likes of Bristol winner Mike Salinas, Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force.
Matt Hagan will look for a repeat win in Funny Car facing off with points leader Robert Hight, defending world champ J.R. Todd, and John
Eddie Krawiec can tie teammate and Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Andrew Hines for the most wins in class history at the track with four going up against Matt Smith and Hector Arana Jr.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes its eighth of 12 stops in the 2019 season. Three-time world champ Rickie Smith will look for a repeat win against the likes of points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying, stick around to see the spectacular jet cars from Hanna Motorsports, including the “First Strike” Funny Car driven by Rich Hanna, the “Top Secret Eastern Raider” Funny Car driven by Ken Hall, and the “Eastern Raider” jet dragster driven by Josh Graham. Known for their exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Additionally, Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park will host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello on Sunday. A can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals victories.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 21 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 22, at 1:00 and 4:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 23.