NHRA At Las Vegas: One Champion, Four Winners

Ron Capps overcame a DNQ at Phoenix to win on Sunday in Las Vegas

Ron Capps overcame a DNQ at Phoenix to win on Sunday in Las Vegas

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Jason Line never gets overly excited about anything, but the grin--ear to ear--when the lanky Minnesota-born Pro Stock driver won his second NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship (the first came in 2006) was certainly telling.

Having to wait five years between championships was tough for Line, who tunes his teammate Greg Anderson's KB Racing Summit Pontiac GXP (while Andereson tunes Line's car).  

Line clinched his world championship at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, racing to three straight final round appearances in the six-race Countdown to One playoff series altering entering the six-race showdown in second, behind only Anderson.  He won at Dallas and Reading and was runner-up in the first Countdown race at Charlotte.

"It feels unbelievable to win my second championship," Line said, looking a bit shell-shocked and happy.  "Timing is everything in our sport and we got hot at the right time.  The second championship definitely means more to me because, as I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate it and realized how hard these things are to get."

Line had to make it to the semi-finals on Sunday and that's just what he did, but the North Carolina resident fouled out (started before the green) and allowed Allen Johnson to meet eventual winner Mike Edwards.  "It's more important to clinch here than Pomona, since we have all of [team owner] Ken Black's family here and without them, none of this would be possible."

On a hot day that was fraught with stoppages in both nitromethane-powered classes, the racing was tight and certainly long after the NHRA's Safety Safari performed yeoman efforts to keep the racers on the track.

In Top Fuel, Del Worsham got his mojo back in time to take his seventh victory of the season, running the pink-trimmed Al-Anabi dragster past Spencer Massey at 3.823 and 318.77 mph.  The win elevated Worsham into second place with a single race left to run at Pomona in two weeks.  He's only two points behind leader Massey, with former leader Antron Brown nipping at his toes, 14 points back.  Despite an early exit on Sunday, reigning Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon is still in it, 44 points behind Massey.

"Today was for Sheikh Khalid (Al-Thani, team owner) and our team," Worsham said.  "You can't see the other guy (in the lane) but there's that feeling like when someone is staring at you and you know they're there.  I knew Spencer was lurking.  He never saw me either.  When my win light came on down there, I was proud."  Worsham was the top qualifier.

It was a good day for another No. 1 qualifier as Funny Car Dodge driver Ron Capps took his second win of the season and second with Tim Richards making the tune-up calls on his NAPA car.  Capps beat teammate Johnny Gray with a 4.109 at 311.34 for a 33rd career win and fourth in Las Vegas.

"We're fighting to get back into," Capps noted.  "As soon as you start celebrating the win at the top end, you also think, 'Gosh, if it weren't for that DNQ (at Phoenix) we'd be right in the middle of it.'  I want to win the championship with Tim and (wife) Kim.  We're going to try.  I couldn't believe the car stayed hooked up," he exclaimed.  

It appears that Eddie Krawiec is on the path to his second Pro Stock Motorcycle title for the Harley-Davidson V-Rod Vance & Hines team.  Krawiec, the 2008 titleholder, defeated teammate and three-time champ Andrew Hines with his 6.936 at 194.30 in the final round.  This was Eddie K's fourth 2011 victory and the 11th of his career.  He increased his points lead over rookie Hector Arana Jr by a nearly insurmountable 69 points.  NHRA awards 20 points per round and there are bonus points for qualifying in all classes, as well as for national records.

"The most important thing here was consistency," Krawiec explained.  "Round wins and round wins.  And I've just been trying to work on my riding and being consistent."

The grand finale for all four categories of NHRA professional racing come with the Auto Club Finals at Pomona, NHRA's ancestral home.  The race will end the series 60th anniversary celebration in grand style, as 15-time and reigning Funny Car champ John Force brings out some of his memorable racecars for everyone to enjoy.  The race runs from Nov 10-13 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

© 2011 Anne Proffit

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