Line has plenty of reasons to be excited heading to Chicago
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Past success, multiple days of night qualifying and even an ideal menu selection are just a few reasons why Jason Line is excited for this weekend’s 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.
But perhaps the biggest reason the two-time Pro Stock world champion is geared up for the weekend is because of the potential he sees in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Despite a first-round loss a weekend ago, Line was impressed with his qualifying runs and appears poised to return to the performances that led to a win in Pomona in February to kick off the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
"I like Chicago, not just because it was the place where I got my first win with KB Racing – although that doesn't hurt the cause – but also because the track itself is great," Line said. "It's a great facility, and it's a fun place to go. They have great pizza there, too. There are a lot of good reasons to look forward to this race.
"Chicago has been a really good place for us and right now we are definitely headed in the right direction. There is a lot of good thinking going on in our camp, and we aren't satisfied with where we are yet, but everyone on the Summit Racing team is working hard. I feel good about where we're going."
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. It is the 12th of 24 races during the 2014 season and an event Line always has circled on his calendar.
Line, who is currently fourth in points and has 32 career victories, has posted three wins in Chicago, including his first as a professional in 2004. Two more followed at the state-of-the-art facility in 2005, but Line hasn’t returned to the winner’s circle at Route 66 Raceway since.
But Line could be edging back to his winning ways. Always an incredibly consistent driver – he hasn’t finished outside the top five in points since he became a full-time Pro Stock driver in 2004 – Line has posted round wins at every event this season except the most recent race last weekend in Epping, N.H.
But even there Line was encouraged with the power his Camaro produced in qualifying, something that could carry over into standout runs during night qualifying sessions in Chicago scheduled for both Friday and Saturday.
“As a driver, you're more comfortable in the car once the sun sets, and racing at night is just cool," Line said. "I think the fans enjoy it just as much or even more than we do. A lot of folks work during the day, and this makes it possible for them to come out on Friday after work and see the race. I enjoy the night sessions, and I think it makes perfect sense. It's something a little different. Who doesn't like night qualifying?"
Of course a remarkably talented Pro Stock field, headed by points leader Erica Enders-Stevens, will also get to enjoy racing under the lights, making for what could be two memorable days of qualifying. Line will face off against plenty of championship talent as well, including reigning Pro Stock world champ Jeg Coughlin, who has five victories at Route 66 Raceway, 2012 world champion Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, teammate and four-time world champ Greg Anderson, Epping winner Dave Connolly, Shane Gray, two-time runner-up Jonathan Gray and Chris McGaha.
The race also serves as the third in a stretch of four straight race weekends, but Line and his talented team have performed well during the rigorous period, getting solid results without excessive wear and tear on parts.
"Knock on wood, we haven't destroyed a lot of parts, and thankfully we're sponsored by ‘The World's Speed Shop’ so that helps our cause,” Line said. “We have a good back-up arsenal to get us through, and everything has held up really well."
As always, fans will have the opportunity to 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 in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time 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.
The race also will showcase the thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, as well as the fan-favorite JEGS All-Stars competition.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 27, with sessions at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 28, at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 29.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Route 66 Raceway at 888-629-RACE (7223) or visit www.route66raceway.com.