KB Racing teammates seek to remain a step ahead of stout Pro Stock competition
Reigning champion Jason Line and 2016 runner-up Greg Anderson primed for start of season
DETROIT (Feb. 7, 2017) – Jason Line is hard-pressed to imagine what he could do for an encore in 2017.
After all, the veteran KB Racing driver culled massive points from eight event victories and six runner-up finishes to keep one step ahead of teammate Greg Anderson and earn his third National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock world championship. Anderson matched Line’s win total to secure second place for the second consecutive season.
Overall, the drivers who briefly questioned during months bridging the 2015 and ’16 seasons whether they wanted to continue competing in the Mello Yello Hot Rod Association division because of the introduction of an unfamiliar rules package dominated the Pro Stock division. Likewise, the Chevrolet Camaro SS was dominant, winning 23 of the 24 events over the nine-month season.
“It’s going to be really hard to duplicate last season. It was the second-best year we’ve had as a group and probably a better year than most teams have ever had,” said Line, who reached the final round of eliminations in each of the first eight events. “Can we do the same thing? It’s possible.
“We got spoiled at the start of the year going to every final round. I’ve done it long enough to know it doesn’t stay that way, but we did have a great run and it would be nice that start that way this year. It’s going to be hard. Everybody is going to be bunched closer together. Everybody’s figured out the rules package. The competition will be closer; we just hope we can maintain a little edge.”
Line, who has 45 career Pro Stock victories entering this weekend’s season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, registered a 65-16 round record to complement eight No. 1 qualifier honors. Anderson, who fell four points shy of recording his fourth Pro Stock world title, posted seven No. 1 qualifier spots and a 64-16 round record.
The results were surprising, both drivers acknowledged, following an off-season of continuous questions with the rules package that included electronic fuel injection replacing the carburetor. Questions remain, but this past off-season there was a narrower focus to their commission.
“Last year was about coming up with a recipe; this year is more about refinement,” Line said. “We were starting from scratch. We were not fuel injection guys, for sure. Last season was a panic to come up with something because we had a lot to learn. We still have a lot to learn, but there’s a big difference in the mind-set compared to last season.”
Added Anderson, who needs 12 wins to surpass Warren Johnson for the top spot on the Pro Stock career list.: “We knew nothing about electronics, nothing about computers, nothing about the new way of doing it. We were scared, and there was a couple of weeks where we maybe didn’t want to do it anymore. We finally got our heads in the game and did it and had a great season.
“There still is a lot more to learn with the fuel injection for us. The motors are still down 30 to 40 horsepower from where they were with carburetors, and we know we’ll eventually get that back but it’s been a slow process.
“We realized as the year went on the competition did close the gap on us. We kind of lost that edge we had at the start of the year, but still we closed in good style. We ended up being 1-2 in points and won the last race of the year, so it was a good way to send off the year and gave us a little extra oomph going into the off-season to work. But we realized that if we didn’t make gains in the off-season we would probably get passed by so we’ve been working hard. You just have to do better than the next guy is the bottom line.”
Engine testing at the KB Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, has been validated by on-track activity last month in Florida and this week at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona. Line and Anderson also will be among the handful to open the season with the aerodynamic 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Gen 6 bodywork.
“They look fantastic, the best-looking body we’ve ever had,” Anderson said. “It’s been a big project, but I sure like the end result. The cleaner you can make the front end of the car, the more air that is going to enter the engine and that’s been the goal of this off-season. Every time we’ve come out with a new body, it’s been a step forward and I expect that again this year.”
Another step forward would be welcome to keep a step ahead of the competition, which this season will include former Pro Stock world champions Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. driving the Chevrolet Camaro.
“The goal is to win the championship, of course, and both of us believe we have a great shot at it again,” Line said. “We’ll see how it shakes out. It’s a long season.”