Greg Anderson felt badly for about two minutes.
That’s all the pity he felt for his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro racing partner, Jason Line, after last season’s victory at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR).
Appearing in victory lane at BIR is nothing new for Anderson, but for Line it’s the one goal that has eluded him.
“Quite honestly, I felt bad for him last year,” said Anderson. “Don’t get me wrong, when we race we want to beat each other bad. Especially when we’re in Brainerd we want to win at BIR bad and it means the world to both of us.
“You don’t want to hand anything to your opponent. But after all was said and done, and I was able to close the deal there, I did feel a little bit sorry for him.”
BIR is a mini-personal championship during the long NHRA Full Throttle season for Anderson, who is from Duluth, and Line, who hails from nearby Wright. But while Anderson won at BIR it was Line who won the series championship.
“There’s more zeros on the end of my check. I think we’ll look at it that way,” said Line.
Anderson conceded: “Unfortunately, he wins the season championship and that means more. During the week of BIR we both could care less about the championship. We want that Brainerd trophy because we’re both from there. It’s the most important race for both us and I’ve been able to do it a couple of times.
“I have all the confidence in the world that he will win one there. That week it’s all about that trophy. When the week’s over we go back to worrying about the championship.”
There wasn’t much worrying about the championship last season as Line captured it with the largest point differential of any of the four classes. Line beat Mike Edwards by 190 points to win the title. Anderson was third — 219 points behind.
A win at BIR is still high on Line’s list of things to do, but he’s taking a different approach to this week’s race.
“I put a lot of emphasis on winning at BIR last year and it didn’t happen,” said Line. “I didn’t drive as well as I should have. This year we are completely 100 percent test mode for Brainerd. It is what it is, however. It’s too bad it falls on this weekend.”
The reason for the test mode is the duo introduced a new set of cars. They moved away from the Pontiac GXP to Chevrolet Camaros after securing a spot for “The Countdown to the Championship.”
Line is currently sitting second with Anderson in third behind Allen Johnson.
“We were lucky to lock into the (Countdown) early, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to debut the cars when we did,” said Anderson. “We were 1-2 in points when we brought them out. It’s been a learning curve, but one we figured we better do before we got to the Countdown.”
Despite qualifying sixth and advancing to the finals at Seattle, Line said the transition has been frustrating.
“It’s been a hard thing because at the time we’re leading the points race and now AJ (Allen Johnson) is making all of us look bad,” said Line. “You wonder what it would be like if we were back in that car, but we needed to change with the times and you have to move on. It was time to get into the Camaro. It is a great car, we just haven’t figured out how to make it run as fast as it should. It’s a never ending science project.”
The Line-Anderson duo has been one of the best Pro Stock driving teams for the past five years. Anderson won the title in 2010. In 2009, Anderson was second and Line was third. Anderson was second in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with Line picking up two top-five finishes after winning the title in 2006.
But there is no complacency in this team.
“It’s funny, but this is all we know,” Anderson said. “We’ve put so much time and effort into this project that we don’t have time to look out of our own little box. We honestly don’t know what other projects we would be able to succeed at. I feel everybody is good at one particular thing, and if you’re going to do something you have to give a 100 percent effort to get to the top of your profession.
“We love this and we’re not tired of winning. You never tire of winning. I don’t care to go anywhere else or do something else. We’ve been offered a lot of different things, but it doesn’t appeal to us. I guess maybe we’re smart that way.”
Line said he’s a race car driver.
“At this point, I’m not sure we know how to do anything else,” said Line. “I love cars. It’s been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. I don’t get tired of doing it.
“Right now, we aren’t the quickest car out there and that’s motivating. It fires up your competitive spirit. It rejuvenates you. It’s not that I don’t like winning. I just don’t like standing around watching someone else win.”