The sight of a seemingly crazed rider ripping wires from his bike had to be a unforgettable moment.
Frustrating race weekends will lead a drag racer to do wild things.
It was totally out of character but necessary for four-time series champion Andrew Hines, whose Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod has been mired in mediocrity since winning the season-opening O’Reilly NHRA Route 66 Nationals outside of Chicago.
“When I got back from Englishtown, the first thing I did on that Tuesday when the bike got back to the shop was to rip every wire off of this thing and run to my local O’Reillys and picked up a bunch of 14-gauge and 16-gauge wire and did everything I possibly could to rewire it.”
This was the spark Hines and his bike needed.
Hines was the beneficiary of a foul start opposite of LE Tonglet, who came into the final round as both the underdog and undefeated defending champion with 11 consecutive round wins.
A rejuvenated Hines kept the Harley-Davidson domination of the Pro Stock Bike class intact with his second victory in five races. Teammate Eddie Krawiec has three. The victory marked his second at Route 66 Raceway.
Hines didn’t sweat seeing Tonglet jump out to the early lead. He knew early on the victory was his and became so preoccupied with the win, he let it affect the riding which had been nearly flawless all day.
“As soon as I popped the clutch, I saw the win light come on,” said Hines. “I caught the flash of red on LE’s side. From there on out, it was just a nice comfortable ride down the track, and I’m sure I didn’t ride as good as I could have. I short-shifted one gear and saw LE out in front of me, I knew he red-light and watched as he shut off. I was paying more attention to him and my win light, and my bike almost shifted into high gear.”
Hines admitted this might have been the one opportunity where being preoccupied was acceptable. Considering the team has been preoccupied with chasing gremlins for the last few races, shifting shortcomings was the last thing on his mind following Tonglet’s foul.
“This win is total relief,” said Hines. “It gives me a lot of confidence in my motorcycle now. The effort I put in and my team put in over the last couple of weeks to make sure my bike was going to be perfect is really relieving and to get the victory.”
The victory represents No. 27 for Hines as he creeps into striking distance of his tuner/brother’s 30-wins on the all-time list.
“I’ve been eyeing that for a while. He’s tuned me to my 27. That’s a great collaborate effort we have. I think he wants me to get to 30 as bad as I do. It’s cool to have your brother tuning you. You still butt heads.”
And to hear Andrew talk, his brother has a good handle on the upcoming races should the conditions get unbearable.
“Luckily Matt has a good tune-up for my bike in these hot and muggy conditions,” admitted Hines. “That’s something we didn’t have at this time last year. We were really inconsistent on speeds and ETs.
“We were able to go out and pick away at performance, something we couldn’t do last year. It provides a lot of confidence headed to Norwalk next weekend.”
How crucial is confidence to a team who has won every race this year?
“Confidence means everything,” Hines said. “I have the utmost in my team. They have confidence in me. But every now and then, I didn’t have the greatest confidence in my motorcycle.”
He does now.
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