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Region's top 'Super Street' dragster gears up to defend his title in 2011

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Wayne Linder Jr., an employee of the city of Sunnyside who resides in Outlook, gets a little air time while warming up for an NHRA Division 6 race at Pacific Raceways last season.

Outlook's Wayne Linder Jr. enters his 14th season on the NHRA drag racing circuit with a big bull's eye on his back.

That's because he's the reigning Division 6 "Super Street" champion. The Division title he earned in 2010 was his first in 13 years of competitive racing.

That's not to say that Linder hasn't been a force with which to be reckoned. To his credit, the local quarter-mile specialist has garnered eight "Top 10" finishes in the Division 6 points standings. That run over the last 13 years includes two third-place finishes in the "Super Gas" class.

But it was last year, in 2010, that everything all came together for Linder. The season included a perfect trip through the brackets at the Division 6 race in Mission, Canada, which ended up being run in Seattle because of inclement weather north of the international border. Along with that first-place finish, Linder secured runner-up honors at the Division race in Boise, Idaho last year. Coupled with strong performances at the Division competitions in Woodburn, Ore. and Seattle, where he advanced through the brackets to the semi-final and quarter-final rounds, Linder tallied enough points in 2010 to best all "Super Street" challengers.

The icing on the cake for Linder came at the Year End Shootout in Medford, Ore. There, he claimed top honors from among all "Super Street" drag racers. It was his third top finish at the season-ending event, the previous two coming in the "Super Gas" class.

As a "Super Street" competitor, Linder's goal is to roar down the quarter-mile strip in a time of 10.90 seconds, referred to as the index. Hit the finish line quicker than that means disqualification. Finishing four or five one-hundred's of a second over the index and a drag racer generally has lost the heat to a competitor who is more "dialed in."

The key, Linder explains, is setting up the car so that it reaches the finish line in exactly 10.90 seconds. Besides having to factor in weather conditions, race-day temperatures and the condition of the surface of the track when prepping the race car, the drag racer, himself, must be spot on when it comes to meshing together everything required behind the wheel of the vehicle.

"There isn't a lot of room for error," he said.

In preparing to defend his 2010 Division 6 title, Linder finds himself battling for a championship of another sort. Competing in a series within a series, the Outlook drag racer is currently the Division 6 "Super Street" points leader of the 2010-11 JEGS All-Stars competition. He presently has a five-round lead over his closest competitor.

With just a couple of competitions remaining in that series, he's looking to advance to the JEGS All-Stars Finals, to be staged in Chicago in July of this year.

Between now and then, though, Linder will be prepping for the Division 6 season opener, scheduled for late April at Boise, Idaho.

"It's going to be tough to repeat the kind of year we had in 2010," he said. "But we're definitely looking forward to it."

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