Not only is the U.S. Nationals the most prestigious event each year on the NHRA schedule, it's also the longest and provides more professional qualifying sessions of any event over the course of the season with five instead of the usual four. NHRA Pro Stock driver, Jason Line was more than thankful for the extra session which he used to jump up and secure the number one spot in Pro Stock, along with all the bonuses that go with it, including the maximum K&N Horsepower Challenge points and $3,000 K&N bonus check.
NHRA Pro Stock Driver Jason Line
Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP
Qualifying sessions started with just one scheduled for Friday and it was Line landing in the number two spot behind his teammate and 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Greg Anderson, during session number one. With very hot conditions and one hundred twenty four degree track temperatures, both drivers posted identical 6.650 ET's to open qualifying for the event. Anderson just edged Line for the provisional pole with an ever-so-slightly faster MPH.
Weather and track temperatures were only slightly worse than the day before come Saturday afternoon for session number two, another ninety-six degrees and nearly one hundred thirty degrees on the track. Anderson had pointed out that he felt he had left some on the line during Friday's session after a little too much tire spin. While Anderson improved to a 6.647, Line still managed to post the second quickest run of the session with his 6.668 and remained in the number two spot.
By the time Saturday evening rolled around it was still rather hot for Indy but at least the track temp was starting to become a little more favorable at one hundred four degrees during Pro Stock session number three. Once again it was the 'Greg and Jason Show' with both drivers this time improving on all their previous attempts and remaining in their respective number one and two spots. Anderson made a very nice jump to 6.629 and Line found a whole additional hundredth with his 6.640.
"The conditions have continued to change throughout qualifying, but this Summit Racing team just keeps hitting the mark time after time, keeping both Jason and myself on top of this field," Anderson commented shortly after the end of Saturday's runs. "With every session, the teams are naturally starting to get a handle on this racetrack, making it tougher and tougher to stay ahead, but we've been making some good decisions, putting us in this position."
"However, this is Indy, and we have one more day to set the field," he continued. "If that wasn't enough, we're supposed to get some weather coming in tonight that will create a completely different set of tuning conditions, which could scramble the field from top to bottom. Still, we're going to the hotel with smiles on our faces and ready to handle whatever gets thrown at us tomorrow. So far, so good."
The weather conditions on Sunday were like night and day from earlier in the weekend and whatever the teams had learned from Friday and Saturday, they might as well be starting from scratch. With more than twenty degrees less in temperature, nearly double the humidity and more than one thousand feet less in adjusted attitude, teams took to the track late Sunday morning. Nearing the end of the session and just a couple of pair before Anderson and Line, K&N's Mike Edwards made a huge move after his 6.624 pass and for a mere moment, snagged the pole from Anderson. Before Edwards was even able to get towed back to his pit, Anderson continued his qualifying domination by improving another six thousandths of a second [6.623] and right back to the top by one tiny thousandth of a second. Line again improved to match Edwards' 6.624 ET at 208.26, but lost out one the number two slot, when he just wasn't able to get past Edwards' faster mile-per-hour. [208.59]
During any other NHRA event, after four sessions were completed qualifying would be in the books, but this was Indy, this was the U.S. Nationals and there was a fifth on the schedule. While all eyes now seemed to be on Anderson and Edwards to battle it out for the number one spot, Jason Line had something to say about all that.
When the Pro Stock pack returned for their final session late Sunday afternoon, they were able to bring with them all the info they learned from earlier in the day, as weather and track conditions remained nearly the same. It proved to be the most exciting session of the weekend with lots teams of bumping up and bumping others out for race day. In the second to last pair, Edwards again laid down the gauntlet with his 6.613 and right back to number one. All eyes were now on the final pair, Anderson and Line.
Based on earlier rounds, it came as no surprise when Anderson sailed past Edwards by three thousandths as he put a 6.610 on the board, but that would only be good enough for number two. This time, it was Jason Line who saved the best for last and his outstanding 6.603 at 209.01, both the quickest and fastest Pro Stock run of the weekend for the number one qualifier at the U.S. Nationals.
The feat would mark Line's fourth number one of the 2011 season and the twenty-first of his career.
Line and Anderson are now tied for the number one spot [1,090 points] for the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge and its $50,000 championship check, sixty points back is Mike Edwards and next in line are Erica Enders and Allen Johnson who are tied with 1,015 points each.
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