POMONA, CA – February 8, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Jason Line’s dominant start to the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season all started with a final round appearance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. It keyed a string of eight straight final round appearances, five of which ended up a wins in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, and ultimately a third Pro Stock world championship for Line.
It was an impressive way to start the first year of the redesigned Pro Stock class, even if Line knows that repeating that run will be difficult. But what he is focused on is a fifth win at Pomona at this weekend’s 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, which kicks off the 2017 season.
“When (the string of finals appearances) was happening, I didn’t even think about it until six or seven races in and I won’t now, either,” said Line, who has 45 career wins. “It’s not a realistic goal and I’m not going to be delusional. I’m going to do the best I can and do what I can to help my teammates as well. This off-season was more about refinement. Last year, it was coming up with a recipe and now it’s about refining it. It was a way different mindset going into this off-season.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were winner’s of last year’s tradition-rich event, which will for the first time in its history feature Sunday’s eliminations live on the FOX national broadcast channel. It is the first of 24 races in 2017 and the event will air on FOX Sports 1 on Friday and Saturday, and FOX on Sunday.
Line watched his longtime teammate Anderson win both races at Pomona, but it was Line who ended up with the world championship on the strength of eight wins and 14 final round appearances. Anderson also had eight victories as the duo stayed a step ahead of their talented competition in the new era of Pro Stock.
But as kind as Pomona has been to Line and Anderson, with the duo combining for 16 wins at the historic track, Line knows the competition will be intense in 2017. Past champions like Jeg Coughlin Jr., Erica Enders and Allen Johnson all made considerable strides late last year and in the off-season, and Line expects an extremely competitive field in Pomona.
“I think there’s going to be a bunch of cars all jammed together,” Line said. “It’s going to be a crapshoot on who wins. The crew chief role is going to be very important because there’s going to be a bunch of really close cars. But it’s always fun going to Pomona. That first race of the year is always fun, seeing what everybody did over the off-season, and it’s one of my favorite tracks and places to race.”
As for his own off-season, Line didn’t have to look far for motivation. While he made sure to celebrate his first championship since 2011, Line remains driven to push forward and get better, in part because of who he works next to each day.
“There are a couple ways to look at it,” Line said. “In the off-season, the guy who finished second is right next to me and he’s been working really hard. It was somewhat of a relief, knowing you won a championship and you try to enjoy it, but you look at Greg and he is more motivated than ever. But it’s obviously a great feeling to have accomplished your goal. It’s a rare feeling because it doesn’t happen a lot and it’s nice to say that you did it.”
In Top Fuel, Torrence defeated Doug Kalitta in the event’s final round en route to three wins and a third-place finish in 2016. He’ll square off against the likes of back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher, Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett.
In Funny Car, Capps started his dream 2016 with a Winternationals victory, using that momentum to help claim his first Funny Car world championship. The loaded class field also includes Del Worsham, John Force, Matt Hagan, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers with an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 11, also at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12.
Kids 12 & under get in free with a general admission ticket, while students save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID. Military and first responders save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. For more information, visit www.NHRA.com.
CIRCLE K NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
WHAT: 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, the first of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. Go north on Fairplex drive.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 9-12
THURSDAY, Feb. 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8:15 a.m.
FRIDAY, Feb. 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 8:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Feb. 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 8:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Feb. 12 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Feb. 10, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying at 7 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, Feb. 11, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying at 1 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Feb. 12, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying at 2 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Feb. 12, FOX will televise three hours of live eliminations coverage at 4 p.m. (ET).
WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC – 7; Bob Glidden, PS – 7; Greg Anderson, PS- 6; Don Garlits, TF- 5; Warren Johnson, PS – 5; Don Prudhomme, TF/FC – 5; Larry Dixon, TF- 4; Jason Line, PS-4.
Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by J.R. Todd, Nov. ’16 and 332.34 mph by Shawn Langdon, Nov. ’15
Funny Car – 3.825 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’16 and 332.84 mph by Beckman, Nov. ’16
Pro Stock– 6.480 sec. by Erica Enders, Nov. ’14 and 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. ’15
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association