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Line Starts the Year with Big Winternationals Win

Jason Line had his work cut out for him at the 54th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, the first race of 24 in NHRA’s 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Line was racing for the first time without Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson, who is on the mend following surgery and miss the first six races.

True to his resilient nature, Line accepted the challenge and won the event in a final round match with V. Gaines. The victory was Line’s 66th career final round and his 32nd Pro Stock victory. Adding an extra note of triumph was the fact that Line was driving the same Summit Racing Camaro he crashed in testing late last season.

“It’s a huge deal to start off the year like this,” Line said. “This is a big deal for the Summit Racing team. We worked hard over the winter, and I think we really made some progress. The sport is crazy competitive right now, but we’re certainly off to a good start.”

“The KB Racing team was great this weekend,” Line continued. “We all pitched in and worked together. Jimmy Alund [who is driving Anderson’s Summit Racing Camaro for the first six events] was a great help as well. He’s a very capable guy and was certainly an asset to us this weekend, no question.”

Line qualified third with a 6.514 second, 212.63 MPH pass. Matt Hartford, he Round One opponent, was nearly psychic at the starting line with a .004 second reaction time to Line’s .051. But Line had the horsepower to trip the win light, 6.548/211.43 to Hartford’s 6.615.209.30.

Line went on to beat Dave Connolly in Round Two (6.536/212.06 to 6.544/212.06) and Shane Gray in the semi-finals (6.527/212.23 to 6.541/211.79) to reach the final round. Line and opponent V. Gaines have met in two previous final rounds, each winning one. The two had nearly identical launches, but Line combined a .003 second edge with his best run of the day to take the win, 6.526/212.06 to 6.541/212.56.

Line gave credit to teammate Greg Anderson for the long-distance advice and moral support.

“I talked to Greg this morning (before final eliminations), and he gave me strict instructions,” said Line. “When I talk to him tonight, I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy with me. I’m glad Greg is getting better, and I’m indebted to him for giving me the opportunity so many years ago that nobody else would have.”

Alund Getting Comfortable in Summit Racing Camaro
Jimmy Alund is playing a significant role in NHRA Pro Stock as he pilots Greg Anderson’s Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro while the four-time champion is recuperating.

Taking over a car driven by a competitor who possesses a big collection of NHRA Wallys might be intimidating, but joining the KB Racing team has been a natural fit for Alund. He has been competing with KB Racing power under the hood of his own Pro Stock Camaro for a year and a half, winning the 2013 European Pro Stock championship in the process.

Alund qualified the blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro tenth with a solid 6.546/211.86 pass. He was eager to take the win light in his Round One meeting with Shane Gray. However, he was a bit too eager—Alund triggered the red bulb by .014 of a second, automatically handing the win to Gray. Still, Alund’s 6.555/211.63 was quicker than Gray’s 6/584/211.69, boding well for remaining five races.

Alund explained that the LED lights on the NHRA’s Christmas tree were different than the system used in Europe, where he is an eight-time Pro Stock champion. “I think this is only the third one (red light) in all of my racing days,” he said. “It’s a little different here, but that’s okay. That’s racing.”

“So far, it’s been fantastic racing here,” Alund added. “It’s an honor to be with this team—it’s actually a lot of fun.”

Doug Kalitta Joins Team Summit, Reaches Final Round
Top Fuel veteran Doug Kalitta is running the 2014 season with associate sponsorship from Summit Racing. He qualified Number One (3.713/327.98), setting a track elapsed time record. He defeated Sidnei Frigo, Richie Crampton, and Spencer Massey to reach the final round against Kahlid alBalooshi. Kalitta got the jump at the starting line, but went up in tire smoke as alBalooshi managed to hook up and take the win, 3.974/324.36 to 5.368/143.40.

Tim Wilkerson Out Early in Funny Car
Tim Wilkerson qualified 15th with a 4.150/316.23 pass. He had an .008 second advantage off the starting line against Robert Hight in Round One of eliminations, but went up in tire smoke past the 60 foot line. Hight won the race, 3.986/318.69 to 6.520/111.15.

Winternationals Final Round Results
Top Fuel: Khalid alBalooshi defeated Doug Kalitta, 3.974/324.36 to 5.368/143.40.
Funny Car: John Force defeated Matt Hagan, 3.965/323.58 to 6.613/117.88.
Pro Stock:  Jason Line defeated V. Gaines, 6.526/212.06 to 6.533/212.56.

Next Event
The next event is the NHRA Arizona Nationals, February 21-23 in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit DragRaceCentral for more news and in-depth results from the NHRA Circle K Winternationals.

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