After a very brief one-year hiatus from the NHRA schedule, teams and fans alike returned to Gateway Motorsports Park, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, for the Inaugural AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. With a decent weather forecast for the first part of qualifying, Pro Stock teams were eyeing a small possibility of setting a national record and grabbing the precious championship points that are awarded with it. There may not have been any national records to witness, but there was plenty of setting and resetting both ends of the track record in Pro Stock, and Jason Line, in his still new Summit Camaro, had a whole lot to do with the excitement.
The NHRA Pro Stock Class is tight, as usual,with Jason Line currently sits 2nd in the points lead
With fairly decent air for the team's to tune for during session one of Friday, Erica Enders went right to the top of the heap with a clean 6.521 pass and a new track E.T. record. Vincent Nobile and Allen Johnson were right on her heels with a pair of identical 6.534 runs. Jason Line's ride gave him some extra spin off the line to contend with and slowed the all-important early numbers, but still managed a 6.553 and a new track MPH record of 212.76.
By the second session numbers really started to tighten up as Pro Stock teams were really starting to get a handle on what their cars and the track wanted. With a much more solid launch, Line jumped up to the top with a 6.514, resetting the track record. Enders and Johnson also gaining some ground with their respective 6.51 runs, but not quite enough to hold off Line, who would hold down the proverbial number one spot after the first day of qualifying was in the books.
"We were very happy with the car and the track did seem to get a little better as the day went on," Line stated. "As we went through the sessions, we pretty much always had the top speed and we contribute a lot of that to the K&N scoops we have on these cars. Obviously, we acclimated to the track a little better each time we went out. So just a combination of all those things, played a part in us improving throughout the sessions."
The first session out on Saturday would provide the last of the cooler air conditions and Pro Stock teams did their best to tuning to take full advantage. Line blazed down the quarter to make the fifth quickest pass in Pro Stock history and again lowering both ends of the track records to a 6.496 at 213.47.
Jason Line matches up with Erica Enders at Gateway Motorsports Park
"To be honest, we felt like we could have gone a forty-nine on Friday night. It really wasn't that much faster out there the next day," he pointed out of conditions. "It was probably a little slower even, on Saturday morning. I felt comfortable that the fifty-one from the day before was going to hold, but we were real happy with the forty-nine we laid down Saturday morning. Apparently the tune-up changes we were making between each run were the correct moves and we were going in the right direction."
The final qualifying attempt brought much warmer conditions and not the kind that would help teams make any huge gains from the passes before. Line was again the quickest of the session and not too far off his earlier numbers with a 6.509, which was also notably more than two-hundredths quicker than the second quickest of the round.
Line points out that while the importance of low E.T. is more often stressed than that of high MPH, the latter can still have some vital influence on the outcome of events. "Sure we talk about E.T. a lot, but not only for the guys that are tuning these cars, they are always looking for faster mile-per-hour and when we do get it like this weekend, it says a lot about their efforts," he explained. "But it can also play a huge role in qualifying. It is used as a tie-breaker when you have the same E.T. as another driver and can very easily mean the difference, in a class like ours that is so tight and competitive, in say getting the top spot for qualifying and the K&N bonus money or not getting it. Luckily for us, that wasn't going to be a factor for this event."
"This new car is getting better all the time," he continued. "Right now, I can't say anything bad about it, it's a very good car. It's always great to get my picture taken with a K&N hat on and be able to take advantage of the awesome program that they have in place for our Pro Stock class."
The number one spot and the K&N Low-Qualifier bonus awards was the first for Line since making the switch to wheeling the team's latest addition of a new Camaro ride. Added to his early season success, the feat made for his sixth pole of the 2012 season and a career milestone of thirty times starting race day from the top.
With just over a handful of events left to gain points, currently Line sits fairly solid in the top half of the field for the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge. The run for the $50,000 race-within-a-race championship will take place early next spring as part of the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 5-7, 2013 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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