(Photos courtesy NHRA)

2016 NHRA season in review: Pro Stock champion Jason Line

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Over the next three-plus weeks, MotorSportsTalk will feature season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Each day, we’ll have one in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

We began the series Monday with Antron Brown and Tuesday with Ron Capps.

Today we feature 2016 Pro Stock champion Jason Line

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2016_jason_line

 

Driver: Jason Line

Age: 47

Hometown: Wright, Minnesota

Team: KB Racing

Sponsor/car: Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro

Crew chief: Rob Downing/Tim Freeman

2016 season finish: First in Pro Stock.

2016 season statistics: 24 races, 8 wins, 6 runner-up, 7 semifinals, 2 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier eight times. Round-by-round record: 65 wins, 16 losses. Earned third career NHRA Pro Stock championship.

Career statistics (includes both Pro Stock and Sportsman ranks): 308 races, 47 wins (45 Pro Stock, 2 Sportsman), 47 runner-up (47 PS, 0 Sportsman), 64 semifinals, 78 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 49 times. Round-by-round record: 525 wins, 262 losses. 1 DNQ. Three career Pro Stock championships (2006, 2011 and 2016).

What went right in 2016: Won a single-season career-high eight races. … Line and teammate (and four-time champion) Greg Anderson were virtually unstoppable through the season, particularly during the first 2/3 of the campaign. It was neck-and-neck for Line and Anderson until Line pulled away to take the championship by a mere three points, even though he lost in the final round of the final race to Anderson. … Line and Anderson completely overwhelmed 2014 and 2015 champion Erica Enders. Enders won six races in 2014 and 2015, but failed to win even one in 2016 due mainly to the domination of KB Racing’s Line and Anderson.

What went wrong in 2016: Very, very little. Line was the most consistent driver across all four major professional series. He suffered just one first-round exit. Everything else was quarterfinals or higher, including 21 finishes as either a winner, runner-up or semifinalist.

What to look for in 2017: It was a tough back-and-forth battle between Line and Anderson in 2016, and 2017 promises nothing less. Anderson left 2016 with a bad taste in his mouth because he gave it his all to win a fifth Pro Stock championship, yet came up just a little bit short. As close as 2016 was between the two teammates, 2017 could be even closer.

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

Follow @JerryBonkowski

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.