NHRA: 3-time Pro Stock champ Jason Line to retire after 2020 season

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Veteran NHRA drag racer and three-time Pro Stock champion Jason Line surprised the drag racing community Wednesday, announcing the 2020 season will be his last as a driver.

Line is calling his final season before retiring the “Finish Line Tour.” NHRA’s National Dragster broke the news Wednesday morning.

The upcoming season will hold significant meaning to Line for 50 reasons, so to speak:

* This is the 50th anniversary of the Pro Stock class in NHRA competition.

* Line turned 50 years old last July.

* Line has amassed 50 national event wins in his Pro Stock career, his most recent triumph coming last season to kick off the six-race 2019 NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The timing – and numbers – just seemed to be right for Line, who drives for Ken Black Racing (KB Racing) and pilots the Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro — to call it quits.

Pro Stock driver Jason Line in action during the 2019 season. Photo: NHRA

However, Line made it very clear in comments to National Dragster that while he will be stepping away from behind the wheel, he will not be stepping away from the sport.

According to National Dragster, Line intends to continue working for Mooresville, North Carolina-based KB Racing, building and tuning Pro Stock and Sportsman class race motors for the team and its customers.

After a stint at Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR operation as chief dynamometer engine specialist beginning in 1998, Line joined KB Racing in 2003 in a similar role during the week and as a Pro Stock racer on the weekends.

“It’s been a good run, and I’ve really enjoyed driving a Pro Stock car for Ken Black and Summit Racing,” Line told National Dragster. “I’m not leaving Pro Stock — I’m just going to be working for wins for KB Racing from a different kind of seat.”

Line won Pro Stock championships in 2006, 2011 and 2016. He finished fourth last season. Line also won the 1993 Stock Eliminator sportsman class national championship before turning pro in 2003 and went on to win Pro Stock rookie of the year and earn his first of his eventual 50 national event wins in 2004.

“I’m very grateful to (teammate and four-time Pro Stock champ) Greg Anderson and (KB Racing team owners) Ken and Judy Black for giving me the opportunity to drive for so long for the best team in drag racing,” Line told National Dragster. “Driving a Pro Stock car was for sure a dream of mine as a kid, and winning a Pro Stock championship was something you always hope you’ll achieve but never really imagine will happen.

“I love this class, and it has been a privilege and an honor to be part of it for so long and be able to do so well.”

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)