NHRA Notes: Summit Heads Toward The Top

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 11 2012

The temperature, and Pro Stocker Jason Line, got hot in Pomona on Friday. (Photos courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

The Summit Racing operation looked very little like the Summit Racing operation during Thursday’s opening round of qualifying at the 2012 NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals. But during Friday’s second round at Pomona, Ken Black’s Pro Stock teams ignited.

Defending class champion Jason Line moved from 12th to fourth in Round 2. Teammate Greg Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion, moved up to the fifth spot.

Both drivers were pleased but far from satisfied.

Although he accomplished his goal by posting a 6.550-second time (third-quickest for the round) with a category-best speed of 212.19 mph to ascend to the fourth position, Line felt there was still room for improvement, giving him added confidence heading into Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions and race day.

“We are definitely directionally correct,” said Line. “We really didn’t make that good of a run, but we still got down the racetrack, gathered data from all three cars and moved up in the field. However, I don’t know how relevant it’s going to be after tomorrow morning’s session, because it’s going to be considerably faster.

“But all in all, we’re going the right way, the guys on this Summit Racing team are doing a great job and by Sunday we will have a good race car. I have to say I am excited by our prospects for this weekend.”

Anderson powered through the quarter-mile in 6.556-seconds with a top speed of 211.43 mph, fourth best of the 18 cars making an attempt, and good enough for the fifth position midway through qualifying.

“We’re getting closer,” said Anderson. “As my partner Jason Line would say, we’re directionally correct. We actually made a very nice run with my Summit Racing Pontiac, although it looks like we were a little too conservative. We went over the edge yesterday, and decided to back everything down quite a bit, and we might have gone a little too far. It made a nice clean, smooth run, but just didn’t light up the scoreboard.

“We’ll get back after it a little bit for tomorrow. The track should continue to get better – it was better today than yesterday, so we expect it will be even better tomorrow. We’ve been on both sides of the fence now, so we should be able to get it in its happy zone and run even faster.

“Tomorrow’s morning session is going to be the one for quick times, as it will be a little cooler than the last two days. I expect a lot of cars are going to run better, and we need to have our three cars (including Ronnie Humphrey’s Genuine Hotrod Pontiac) among them. Our goal is to put them 1-2-3, so we’re going to keep digging. We’re close, and I think with a little fine-tuning we can get there. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning.”

Antron Borwn, a six-race winner in 2011, made it down the track on Saturday and gave team-owner – and himself – something to smile about.

Brown had a 3.882-second trip at 311.70 mph. In the process, he advanced from 16th to ninth.

“Despite not making a full pull yesterday, we were able to get some good data which we applied today,” said Brown, a New Jersey native. “We needed a clean pass so we could come out tomorrow and turn it up even more.”

Cooler temperatures are expected for the Pomona area the next two days which should translate into quicker times and faster speeds.

“I’m sure all of the Top Fuel tuners will be licking their chops on Saturday and Sunday,” said Brown. “As we all know, cooler temps produce more horsepower. We’ll have to tighten our belts for sure.”

Teammate Tony Schumacher had another very good day on Fridayd.

Schumacher ignored high track temperatures and cranked out a 3.837-second pass at 321.42 mph and held on to second in the order behind provisional pole sitter Morgan Lucas.

“Given how hot it got here today, we laid down a real good run,” said Schumacher, a seven-time world champion. “In fact, we were a little quicker than yesterday. I’ve been stating this since we left Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway a few weeks ago – we have a great racecar. We’re more than ready to start winning races again.”

After finishing second and fifth in the standings, respectively, the last two seasons Schumacher is hungry for a return to world championship contention.

“When you get used to being at the top, you definitely want to stay there,” said Schumacher. “We got knocked off the mountain the last two years, so now it’s time to make the climb back up. Wining here in Pomona this weekend would be a terrific step in the right direction.”

In need of a good Saturday of qualifying are the John Force Racing teams of Mike Neff and Robert Hight. After Firday’s second round, both remained unqualified at 13th and 18th.

Team-owner John Force, who was sitting sixth at the halfway point of qualifying, said he was not overly concerned with his two Funny Car operations.

“I am not worried about (crew chiefs) Jimmy (Prock) or (Mike) Neff,” Force said. “Neff had some deal with the tree or with the way that he staged. He made a good run it just didn’t show it in the ET. These numbers today don’t matter when you get into tomorrow with the cool air because everybody will be running 4.0s and low teens.

“For my team led by Dean Antonelli and Danny DeGennaro getting two good runs was critical. We have struggled for a long time and now we have a new combination. We are walking into it and we didn’t try and step on it and run a 4.10. We were trying to run 4.16 and it dropped a cylinder and ran 4.18.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 11 2012
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