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NHRA: Anderson, Line having odd seasons in Pro Stock

NHRA Photo Minnesota's home-grown Summit Racing team of Greg Anderson (Duluth) and Jason Line (Wright) look to defend home turf when the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals rolls into Brainerd International Raceway.1 / 3
Jason Line2 / 3
Greg Anderson3 / 3

Neither Greg Anderson nor Jason Line is happy with their season to date.

Considering they are at different spectrums in the NHRA Pro Stock top 10 that might seem odd, but these two Minnesota natives can be odd.

Anderson leads the Pro Stock division by 42 points and is the only driver in that category to have clinched a spot in the Countdown.

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Greg Anderson

  • Ride: Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro
  • Crew chief: Rob Downing/Tim Freeman
  • Hometown: Duluth
  • Last year at BIR: Advanced to semifinal round
  • Current standing: First

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Until recently, Line has struggled and is sitting in the No. 9 spot, 18 points ahead of Bo Butner who is sitting in the 10th and final spot for the Countdown, and 276 points behind Anderson.

And, despite having different seasons, both enter the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Friday through Sunday, Aug. 17-19, at Brainerd International Raceway with a must-win attitude.

"We're testing too many parts and too many distractions, I guess," Line said of his struggles this season. "The last couple of races we've tried to put things back to normal and do what my teammates are doing and we've run better, much better. We're getting ready for the Countdown and hopefully, we can do a better job than we have the first part of the year."

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Jason Line

  • Ride: Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro
  • Crew chief: Rob Downing/Tim Freeman
  • Hometown: Wright, Minn.
  • Last year at BIR: Advanced to semifinal round
  • Current standing: Ninth

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Line has a 17-16 record in rounds. He has no No. 1 qualifiers and is 0-3 in finals. He's exited the ladder in the opening round seven times. But the Western Swing saw signs of improvement.

He qualified fourth at Denver and advanced to the finals before losing to Anderson. At Sonoma, Line qualified second and advanced to the semifinals. In Seattle, he made it to the quarterfinals after a fifth-place qualifying time.

Those results and his numerous years of experience are why Line comes to Brainerd not too worried.

"Back then you're a little younger and a little more zealous and you think every pass is a career make-or-break pass," Line said. "After a while, you realize it's not the case. I like to test stuff and that hinders me at times for sure, but you like to think in the end it helps you. That remains to be seen.

"Right now we have a good car. Coming into Brainerd there's no reason why we can't win the race. All I have to do is do a good job behind the wheel."

What's got Anderson less than jovial is the No. 1 as in just one win this season. For a guy who has 91 career wins to his credit, leading the points standings with just one win seems cheap.

"I'm a little disappointed, to be honest with you," Anderson said. "I've never been that guy who watches points or counts points or worries about points. I go to the race to win and only winning once, and that was just a couple or three races ago, it's been a tough struggle. It's been a dry season as far as that goes.

"We judge our success off of race wins. Jason hasn't won yet. I've only got one so between our two cars one (win) isn't cutting it. That's not up to our standards. We need to find a way to get better on Sundays. We've been great in qualifying. We've run fast at every race, we've just been not the car we need to be on Sunday."

Anderson's worst qualifying spot was a seventh at Norwalk. Other than that, he's been in the top four at the other 15 events so far with nine No. 1 qualifiers. In three finals, he's got just the one win at Denver over Line. He's appeared in four semifinals and has only been eliminated in the opening round twice.

His 25-15 round record and his qualifying prowess are why he's leading the standings.

"Somehow we've had a better average than everybody and that's why we're leading the points, I guess," Anderson said. "Bottom line is, it's not enough wins and it's a tougher year than it's ever been to win. We have more competition in the class. We have more parity. I think we have nine or 10 winners this year already through 16 races.

"A lot of cars can win and should win, but only one can. We just haven't gotten enough of them this year. Maybe we're saving them all for the end of the year when it really counts."

Anderson could have used one more win in last year's Countdown. He made it to four final rounds during the six-race Countdown winning twice. The other two events he advanced to the semifinals, but it wasn't enough as he fell to Bo Butner by seven points in the final standings.

"Everybody can beat everybody," Anderson said. "You can win one week and then get knocked out early the next week. That's what has been happening all season so going into the playoffs seeded No. 1 is an extra 30 bonus points. That's huge and I think this year that will mean more than anything. The last two years, I've lost by three points and seven points."

In fact, Anderson has finished runner-up in the final standings the last three years, including two years ago to Line.

While Anderson will do his best to collect as many points for the Countdown as possible, Line looks to win regardless of where he starts. Even if he stays in ninth place.

"You bet," Line said. "I saw Robert Hight do it in Funny Car. He went from 10th to No. 1 so it's doable. It's not the ideal spot to start from, but if that's the spot you got, then that's what you have to deal with.

"I wouldn't mind being the first one to do that. I would give it my best and we would see. Anything can happen. All the cars are so close right now so it really comes down to driving and a little bit of luck."

But, for a guy who has come agonizingly close to winning at BIR, capturing his first home win this year would mean a lot more.

"Yeah, it absolutely would," Line said. "It would be cool. All bad things must come to an end and this would seem like a nice time to end the badness."

Jeremy Millsop
My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
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