Up until a year ago, reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jason Line was not necessarily a fan of Lucas Oil Raceway, site of this weekend’s 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. He acknowledged the importance of the event, and the long and storied history behind what is universally considered the biggest drag race of the season. In fact, his lack of enthusiasm was rooted in his on-track struggles at the Clermont, Ind. quarter-mile dating back to his days competing in the Stock category.
However, his opinion may have shifted slightly to the positive side one year ago when the Summit Racing ace scored his first No. 1 qualifying position at “The Big Go” and powered his way to the final round, where he was narrowly edged by his teammate Greg Anderson. Even though he enters this year’s event with an extensive to-do list, returning to the winner’s circle and claiming his first Indianapolis win remains a top priority.
“Although I still wouldn’t consider this to be one of my favorite tracks, I certainly respect the history and tradition behind the U.S. Nationals,” said Line. “It’s a cool race to go to, and I would certainly like to add an Indy Wally to my trophy case, as well as the increased payout for winning. I’m a muscle car guy, so I really enjoy watching all the Stockers that come out to run during the class runoffs, taking me back to the days when I raced in that category.
“But we’re not there to be spectators. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks testing our Summit Racing Camaros, working to get a handle on what they need to perform, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we’ve done. I’m confident we will be putting a better product on the track than we have at the last few races, allowing us to hopefully be in a position to win on Monday.”
As Line indicates, the format of this race is unlike any other on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Circuit. For example, there are five qualifying sessions instead of the normal four, which are spread out over Friday through Sunday, with final eliminations set for Labor Day. Although this does allow teams to have an additional chance to obtain data on the Lucas Oil Raceway surface, they must also pace themselves to be ready for the extra day of competition.
In addition, this year everyone will be keeping an eye on the progress of Hurricane Isaac, as computer models are currently predicting the remnants of the storm will arrive in the Indianapolis area during the weekend, with the potential for heavy rains putting any qualifying attempts at a premium. Even so, Line prefers to take a simple approach, seeing it simply as another variable out of their control that the team will have to deal with.
“Naturally, we would prefer to have five days of sunshine and cool temperatures, just like everyone else, but we’ll just have to see what happens, and deal with it accordingly,” said Line. “This is a long and difficult race, and we have to be ready to handle any situation that gets thrown at us over the course of the five days.
“Fortunately, I have a very talented KB Racing team behind me, who has a long record of success in Indianapolis with my teammate winning six times. With a larger than normal Pro Stock field expected, it certainly won’t be easy, but I’d like to join in the fun this weekend, putting my Summit Racing Camaro in the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner’s circle. It’s there for us as long as we remain error-free, which we are more than capable of doing.”
Jason Line & the Summit Racing Camaro crew
By the Numbers – Lucas Oil Raceway edition:
1 – a) No. 1 qualifying performances by Line at Lucas Oil Raceway, which came one year ago.
b) Final round appearances by Jason in Indianapolis, which also occurred in 2011
4.89 – Average starting position for Line in his previous nine U.S. Nationals starts.
6.583 – Lucas Oil Raceway Pro Stock Elapsed Time Record, set by Line in 2011.
7 – Times Line has qualified in the top five positions in his previous nine starts in Indianapolis.