LAS VEGAS – Currently sitting in third place in Pro Stock, two-time world champion Jason Line already knows he has to make up ground to leap past Mike Edwards and current points leader Jeg Coughlin during the final two events in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
A recent mishap in testing might have made the task even more difficult, but Line remains as determined as ever to claim another season championship title for his Summit Racing Equipment team heading into the NHRA Toyota Nationals, Oct. 24-27 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Line was uninjured following a crash during a private test session earlier this month, but the team had to replace his Chevy Camaro with a new one, making for a steep learning curve on the eve of the fifth of sixth races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and defending world champions Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to victories last season at the popular event that will once again.
“Obviously it was not great timing,” Line said. “We had our Summit Chevy Camaro running good, and we struggled a bit this year, so it felt really good to finally have the car running good, and certainly as fast as anybody’s, and now we’ve got to start over. It’s just one of those things. But right now you have to somehow find enough strength to remain focused and be focused better than your opponents at this point in time. That’s what’s going to make you the champ or not.”
After both he and teammate Greg Anderson struggled for most of the season in their Camaros, Line caught fire at the perfect time, advancing to two straight final rounds to open the Countdown. He won in Dallas – his first victory since a win at Houston in April – and moved into the points lead for the first time in 2013.
A first round loss in St. Louis a week later sent him back to third, but he still only trails Coughlin by 50 points in what is expected to be a heated championship battle over the final two events. Edwards, who has a class-best six wins this season, is just 45 points behind Coughlin, who won the most recent event in Reading. Defending world champion Johnson is 73 points back in fourth place, but Line said he is only focused on his own performance in Las Vegas.
“You have to win, and you really need to win this race,” Line said. “I’ve said that the last two races, and if we wanted to put ourselves in a better position we needed to, and just didn’t make it happen. But I also think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about the points because that’s all that matters.”