As the race tightens up for a spot to race for the coveted 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge, the Pro Stock competitors kept the qualifying exciting during the final event of the 2012 NHRA season. The number one spot changed hands several times during the 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals before ultimately going to Jason Line, and his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro, thanks to a track record setting lap during session number three.
Jason Line is normally a top contender In NHRA Pro Stock
Where a team ultimately lands on the qualifying sheet, has so many implications including the amount of points earned toward the K&N Horsepower Challenge. During each NHRA national event, the pole sitting team not only adds the maximum 175 points to their K&N HPC tally, but also snatches up a nice $3,000 low qualifier bonus from K&N Engineering. The consummate goal to finish as one of the top seven point earning drivers that will join an eighth to be selected by fan vote. Those elite eight will compete for a $50,000 championship check with $10,000 being awarded to the runner-up, $3,000 each to the two semifinalists, and $2,500 each to the four first-round finishers at a new venue for 2013. The K&N Horsepower Challenge will be contested during the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in early April.
For the most recent NHRA event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the opening round of qualifying found Allen Johnson sitting on top with a 6.565 at 210.47-mph. While he certainly enters every event with his eye on starting from the pole, just making the field was the minimal goal for Johnson and his Mopar Dodge Avenger crew. Just qualifying would sew up the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock Championship for Johnson.
"I watched the first few cars and first few runs, and I made the decision if it started to shake, our mindset was that we were going to get one run, and then it was going to rain and they'd set the field and we didn't make it," Johnson said. "I had my mind made up if it started to shake, I was going to start grabbing gears. We were going to get down the track and at least be sixteenth.”
"When I put it in high gear and that Hemi was humming at the finish line, that was a pretty good feeling," he continued. "My guy came on the radio and said, 'I think we can say championship now.' "
Johnson felt that once the track came around and cars started running quicker, even if he were unable to make another full lap in qualifying, his first run would hold him in the top four and the 2012 NHRA Championship was his.
Jason Line drives the Summit Racing Chevy Camaro in the NHRA Pro Stock category
Still with an eye on finishing the season well, Jason Line, Johnson's closest rival in both the championship and the K&N HPC standings, took the early number two spot by laying down 6.569 and the classes fastest mile-per-hour of 211.10 mph. And the battle for the top spot had only just begun.
The second session on Friday proved to provide the much better track conditions, which Johnson and other teams planned on, with many drivers making huge strides over their previous time slips. Early in the session it was Line's teammate and multi-time K&N HPC Champion, Greg Anderson who nailed his run and shot all the way from well outside the field to the top spot with a solid 6.527. Allen Johnson made the second quickest of the round with a 6.537 and Line close behind with a 6.539, putting the three drivers at one, two and three.
If Anderson's run held through the next two sessions, it would be the first time the driver with seventy-five career Pro Stock poles started from the top in 2012. “It's like Christmas for me. It's been a while. I don't want to sound like a whiner, but for me, it's been a while,” Anderson confessed after the run. “I don't know if it will hold after [Saturday]. It's supposed to be nice again, but I'll take it for one night. I've got at least until 11 a.m. [Saturday] to enjoy it.”
While Line has been able to enjoy success with his new Camaro, Anderson has been waiting for the table to turn with his. “We've been working very hard on these new Camaros and we got a little bit lost when we brought them out,” Anderson continued. “The cars are going to be great, we just got a little confused with the chassis' we built.”
Unfortunately for Anderson, it all came to an end in the opening session on Saturday and for the first time in many seasons, he would go a whole year without a number one qualifier falling to the handiwork of his teammate, Jason Line. Line made a spectacular run, resetting both ends of the track record with a 6.517 at 212.56.
“I really thought he was going to get one,” Line said of Anderson. “I felt like both him and I were going to go 6.51 on that last one, but we'll both get it figured out.”
Line's run would hold, even if just by one thousandth of a second over Johnson's 6.518 posted in the final session. The number one qualifier, during the final event of the 2012 NHRA season, would mark number nine for Jason Line for the year, as well as taking the last four in a row.
There is really no ‘off-season' for any of the professional teams, more like two different seasons. While the flurry of preparations continue for the fast approaching 2013 NHRA season opener, right back where things left off in Pomona, and the 53rd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in mid-February the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge standings hold with the newly crowned NHRA Pro Stock Champ, Allen Johnson sitting on top. Jason Line holds at number two, a tight twenty points behind is Erica Enders at three, K&N's Mike Edwards at four, Greg Anderson remains number five and Vincent Nobile at six. Fighting to grab the seventh and final spot for the challenge are V Gaines and Ron Krisher who are currently just sixty points apart.
Again for 2013, fans can not only vote for their favorite Pro Stock driver to have a shot at the eighth and final spot for the K&N HPC but also enter to win big in the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes. Enter today for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas for the 14th Annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals plus have a shot at taking home the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge Edition Toyota Tacoma.
Deadline for entry is 6:00 p.m. ET on March 8, 2013.
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