Early Brainerd exits for Anderson, Line

BRAINERD, Minn. -- The Summit Racing crew pushed Greg Anderson's Pro Stock car onto a lift and began loading it into its trailer just after 2 p.m. Sunday.

Enders, Line battle
Erica Enders (top) continued her domination during Pro Stock eliminations by beating Jason Line in Sunday's second round at Brainerd International Raceway. Enders went on to win the Pro Stock final during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. (Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch)

BRAINERD, Minn. -- The Summit Racing crew pushed Greg Anderson's Pro Stock car onto a lift and began loading it into its trailer just after 2 p.m. Sunday.

That, in the drag racing world, is a terrible sign because it means you either broke down or just got beat.

It was a lot of both for Anderson and his teammate, Jason Line, this weekend at the 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Anderson, a Duluth native, bowed out in the first round of eliminations Sunday after breaking his transmission. Line, a Wright native, didn't fare much better, losing in the second round.

Anderson hadn't got knocked out of the first round since July 8 in Norwalk, Ohio. Normally, the four-time Pro Stock national champion might have three performances like that in an entire season.


"I haven't been kicked that bad in a long time," Anderson said. "You break a transmission about one out of every 100 races, and you say, 'Why can't that happen in qualifying?', but it was just that kind of weekend. Even if we didn't break, I wouldn't have advanced that far. The car was just off all weekend. We've got a lot of work to do."

Anderson and Line have struggled getting acclimated to their new Chevrolet Camaros after dominating the circuit in their Pontiac GXPs. They made the switch midseason and haven't had time to test.

If there was a silver lining to this weekend, it's that the Summit Racing team will get a jump on returning to North Carolina to figure out what's going wrong.

"This car has speed in it somewhere," Anderson said. "We're just having a hard time finding it."

Line showed plenty of speed in his quarterfinal run against eventual champion Erica Enders, going 210.64 mph to Enders' 210.31 mph, and he was great reacting to the starting lights, but the Camaro limped out of the blocks and could never recover.

Power without traction in a race car is worthless, and Line said the tires began spinning early in his run.

"You can't be great every weekend. You're going to have days like this," Line said. "We showed some speed on that last run, and that gives us a glimmer of hope, so we just need to figure out how to harness it. It's an easy thing to see what happened at the start, but it's a lot harder to fix it. You need to have everything working in unison."

While Brainerd might be Anderson and Line's favorite track, it hasn't always been their best track. Line is still chasing an elusive win at his home track while Anderson has three wins at BIR, including last year.


At least Anderson and Line had a sense of humor about their weekend.

"When you get beat that bad, all you can do is laugh," Anderson said.

Anderson planned on taking the rest of Sunday afternoon off to enjoy time with his family and the relatives who came from Duluth to see him at his race trailer, including his parents, Rod and Joan. Today, it will be back to work.

"I won't be watching any drag racing, I can promise you that," Anderson said. "Jason and I don't make good spectators."

Anderson grabbed a screwdriver and began working on a remote control car for Line's 6-year-old son Jack.

"I think this is the only car I can get to work," Anderson said with a laugh.

  • Virginia-area native Warren Johnson of Sugar Hill, Ga., got edged by Ron Krisher in Sunday's opening round of Pro Stock. Johnson, 69, is the all-time leader in Pro Stock victories with 97.
  • Enders, of New Orleans, who last month beat Anderson to become the first female Pro Stock winner in NHRA history, now has three career victories -- all this season -- after winning on Sunday. In doing so, she became the first female to win back-to-back NHRA national events since Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angelle Sampey in 2006. Best of the rest

    Ron Capps beat NHRA legend John Force in Sunday's Funny Car final after Force smoked the tires shortly after getting a great jump off the starting line.

    It was quite the run for Force, who advanced out of the first round despite jumping the starting light after Alexis DeJoria was disqualified for crossing the center line. Force was going for his 12th victory at Brainerd.

    "It's tough to beat John Force anywhere," NHRA announcer Bob Frey said, "and it's almost impossible to beat him here."

    Morgan Lucas edged Antron Brown in Top Fuel while Eddie Krawiec won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

  • In the support series, Tom Carlson of Two Harbors was the No. 1 qualifier in Super Gas before bowing out in the quarterfinals in his 1984 Dodge Omni.
  • Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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