Drag race: Line qualifies No. 1, Anderson gets to work – Duluth News Tribune

BRAINERD, Minn. – It’s been a while since Jason Line rode the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals media tower at Brainerd International Raceway.

“Far too long,” he said.

This honor is awarded to the No. 1 qualifiers in each professional class, and today it will be awarded to the winners.

“I have to be here tomorrow,” Line said on Saturday after securing the No. 1 Pro Stock qualifying spot, the second time he’s accomplished it here and the first since 2011.

Line, a Wright native, has won Brainerd before, but it didn’t happen in Brainerd, but in Indianapolis two weeks later after the finals were delayed due to rain in 2014.

“I say there’s no (additional pressure), but I guess there is,” Line said of racing in front of a crowd of family and friends. “I just want to win here in Pro Stock. It would be fun and it would be good for the whole band, my friends and family, all of us, something we could enjoy together. It’s a rare thing in our sport, so that would be cool.

Line certainly seems to have the car to do the job, but in this class, where seemingly every race is on the wire, and the difference between winning and losing is less than the blink of an eye, the driver has to be on his game to each round. Final eliminations in Pro Stock begin at noon today.

“It happens sometimes when you’re going somewhere, and for some reason your car will be super happy,” Line said. “Apparently mine thinks it’s my house.” It’s very happy here.

Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) were the other No. 1 qualifiers, while Line’s teammate Greg Anderson, a Duluth native who, like Line, resides in Mooresville, North Carolina, s qualified eighth in Pro Stock after a run of 6.641 seconds. at 205.98 mph.

Line’s elapsed time of 6.606 seconds at 207.27 mph from Friday’s second session was the best mark in qualifying, as dragsters were generally slower on Saturday due to denser air. The temperature was still around 80 degrees, like Friday, but the humidity was higher.

What mattered most to Line was her consistency, setting the fastest time in all four qualifying sessions (two per day).

“My car is good, really good,” Line said. “It’s definitely the best car I’ve had in years. We did four very good runs, it’s not always easy to do. Being able to have the fastest run in four sessions, in today’s Pro Stock, is no small feat. It was very good. Very predictable, and it does what we want it to do.

Line will face No. 16 Wally Stroupe in the first round of today’s playoffs, while Anderson will face No. 9 Alex Laughlin.

Anderson was in business after qualifying on Saturday.

“I have work to do,” Anderson said. “It’s just not wanting to race properly this weekend. I made a lot of changes, but I can’t find it yet. I will have to change even more things for the first round tomorrow, and I hope I succeeded. I’m a few hundredths off, and that’s not going to cut it in this game. I have to find out why.

To complicate matters further, Anderson was likely going to have to swap out his car’s engine after it burned out a tappet and destroyed the camshaft. He said such problems only occur a few times per season.

“It’s a bad sign,” Anderson said. “Fortunately, it’s an easy fix, but you can’t fix it here. It’s really the first big one I’ve had all year.

“Jason’s car is happy. He was happy when he got off the trailer here, he loves this race track. It’s fast on every run. Whatever the situation here, with the weather and the race track, it fell right into this one, while this one went the other way.

If anyone can fix the problem, it would be Anderson.

Anderson is a four-time Pro Stock points champion, while Line is a three-time champion.

Saturday was Line’s 55th career No. 1 qualifier, fifth all-time in Pro Stock.

While Anderson needs to make big jumps today, Line doesn’t have to.

“It was happy from the start,” he said. “Greg will have to take the bigger swings, but he likes it.”

Line then laughed before talking about how he could have been even better on Saturday. He was not happy with his first race of the day.

“I don’t know what I was doing,” Line said. “I must have been gagging or watching in the stands. I don’t do that, but I did.

Line said that wouldn’t be enough for today.

“There’s not a lot of room for error,” Line said. “Tomorrow we have to be error-free.”

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