Once again 20 extra pounds or the other riders could only slow down Harley-Davidson’s domination. It couldn't stop it.
For the second race in a row with the added weight, Harley-Davidson made it to the winner’s circle, the latest came Sunday when won Eddie Krawiec won the NHRA’s Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Krawiec clocked a 6.905-second elapsed time to defeat first-time NHRA finalist Michael Ray, who came in at 7.036 seconds.
“It (the added 20 pounds) definitely slowed it (the motorcycle) down,” Krawiec said. “I have tried to explain it to everybody that the extra weight, the 20 pounds, it wasn’t going to make us not competitive. The goal, I think of NHRA, was obviously to try and bring us back into the pack, and by the performance of the Hectors (Arana Sr. and Arana Jr.) I think that definitely happened there. We are just trying to get a handle on the motorcycle and get it to leave nice and I think we did a good job with mine this weekend. I have a killer motorcycle under me right now.”
Krawiec, the reigning NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ, has now won 13 national events. Krawiec is first in the season point standings at 337, followed by his teammate Andrew Hines at 270.
NHRA addressed the issue of parity in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class March 20 by increasing the minimum weight for the Harley Davidson 160-cid, 4-valve combination by 20 pounds, from 640 pounds to 660 pounds.
Glen Gray, NHRA’s Vice President, Technical Operations, believed adding weight to the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson motorcycles driven by teammates Hines and Krawiec was the right step to take at the time. Krawiec and Hines are the only two NHRA Harley-Davidson riders.
NHRA reviewed the parity in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class as a result of Harley-Davidson’s dominating performance at the Gatornationals which were completed March 12. At the Gatornationals, Krawiec established new NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle national records with a 6.750-second elapsed time and a 199.26 mph speed. The Gatornationals was the season-opening race for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Hines, who won the Spring Nationals last Sunday at Baytown, Texas, was upset in the second round at Atlanta by Ray on a holeshot.
Krawiec defeated Michael Phillips, Karen Stoffer, and Shawn Gann, before facing Ray in the finals. Ray, who competes for Matt Smith Racing, is someone Krawiec didn’t overlook.
“Michael Ray is coming around,” Krawiec said. “I used to race against him over in the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association). He is making better runs down the track and getting more runs under his belt. He is getting acclimated to becoming one with the motorcycle. He has a good tuner. Matt Smith is no slouch over there. He definitely puts his nose to the grindstone and I think it showed when he (Smith) went out. He (Smith) obviously had time to focus on Michael’s bike. Michael was making some really good runs. He knocked my teammate (Hines) out, so hat’s off to him. They did a good job.”
Although Hines and Krawiec are 2-for-2 in terms of winning races with the extra 20 pounds, Krawiec said the added weight has not improved the performance of their bikes.
“It (the extra 20 pounds) definitely did not make it better,” Krawiec said. “I believe we should be going 106 60 foots out here and we can’t. It is really hard to get the wheel speed out of the motorcycle initially and that’s what we are really struggling with right now. We are going 108s and high 107s (to the 60-foot mark). From what we have seen right now it is about a hundredth and a half to the 60 foot and then it’s five, eight thou (thousandths) the rest of the way down. It is probably a total of four to five hundredths that it hurt us, and it brought us right back into the pack. I think everybody wanted to see us just get punched in the gut and struggle to qualify. I think NHRA’s motto was they just want to slow us down and bring us to a fair playing field. It is a tough balance. It is different brands, the Buell, the Harley and the Suzuki, and it is tough to make parity between all that and NHRA does the best they can. If that’s what they feel they needed to do to us and that’s what we need to accept a
nd we need to go back and work and put forth an effort. That’s just the way it is. There is no reason to come out here and cry and complain about it.”
Krawiec admitted the added 20 pounds has challenged him as a rider.
“I have tried to hone and be better,” Krawiec said. “My goal Sunday was to be 30s and 20s when I needed to be (with his reaction time). We do not have the leisure of being 50. I was little aggravated with myself in the semifinals (againt Gann). I think I was 56 and I wasn’t happy with that because you leave yourself vulnerable. All Gann had to do was make a good clean lap and be 20 on the tree and he could have potentially beat me. It is a rider’s race and you can’t mess up. I just feel I’m riding well.”
The last five NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle national events, dating back to last year, have been dominated by Krawiec and Hines.
Krawiec beat Hines in the finals of the Las Vegas fall race last season and then at the season-ending NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., Hines defeated Krawiec in the final round. At the 2012 season-opening Pro Stock Motorcycle event, the Gatornationals, Krawiec edged Hines in the finals. Hines and Krawiec then won at Baytown and Atlanta.
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