It was sticky, it was miserable and track temperatures of 145 degrees were the hottest they’ve been in 2012.
In other words, the perfect conditions for Andrew Hines to make the quickest run of the weekend in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Despite brutal weather indicating otherwise on Saturday at Summit Motorsports Park, Hines and his 2012 Harley-Davidson V-Rod had an incredible 6.961 at 192.85 mph during the final qualifying session to make him the No. 1 qualifier for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk.
“We just picked away at it all weekend long. It’s a testament to how good my team is. We started off in Chicago with a different mindset of how we’re going to do these races in the summer,” said Hines, who picked up his first No. 1 qualifier of 2012 and 31st for his career.
“Last year we would come in behind the eight-ball and not have a good performance on Sunday. We’re doing a complete different strategy and it’s showing in our performance. We’re just picking away at it and steadily improving. I wasn’t expect a (6.96), but I’ll take it any way we can get it.”
The 6.961 gave him a slight edge over the 6.962 that Hector Arana ran on Friday and it puts Hines into prime position to pick up his third win this season.
Hot and greasy were the buzzwords all afternoon, but it didn’t seem to bother Hines or even the entire Pro Stock Motorcycle field.
Several riders made significant improvements, including Karen Stoffer who jumped all the way to No. 4 with a 6.992.
But nobody could top Hines, who is looking for back-to-back wins after the change in the summer strategy.
“(Crew chief) Matt (Hines) is just pecking away at the tune-up, doing the same thing we did in Chicago and we’re seeing the results,” Hines said. “Being the No. 1 qualifier is just huge win for me and it means a lot.
“This was almost one of the hottest tracks we’ve ever seen. It’s really hot and greasy, but Matt was able to find a nice patch of track to go down and it had a nice consistent run. To come back this year and run way better here is really gratifying.”
Hines just barely qualified in Norwalk a year ago, but things are far different in Northern Ohio in 2012.
The gradual improvements this weekend were also noteworthy for Hines, who appears to be executing the gameplan perfectly.
He went from a 7.041 to a 7.040 on Friday, and then started off Saturday with a 7.00 before making one more improvement during qualifying.
“It’s really satisfying and it gives me a lot of confidence in the bike and tune-up,” Hines said. “Going into Sunday that’s what you need, putting up your best performance going into eliminations.”
The improvement in performance will likely follow on Sunday, when temperatures are expected to dip nearly 20 degrees.
In addition to an increased comfort level, Hines said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the bikes dip into the high 6.80s on what should be an outstanding day of eliminations.
“It’s going to be a lot cooler tomorrow and probably significantly faster,” Hines said. “It’s going to completely change the game, but I have the utmost confidence in my Screamin’ Eagle team.”
Still shook up from the wreck, Matt offered a different opinion about Angie riding on Sunday.
“Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen,” Matt said.
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