Picture Andrew Hines in the one corner of the massive "Taj Ma-Hines" motorcycle-wizardry facility, the specialized and sophisticated Vance & Hines race shop at Brownsburg, Ind.
Picture him wearing a shop apron and deviating from his mechanical menu as he used some new utensils and ingredients to find some extra horsepower.
Then it'll all be clear what Hines was doing when he said Friday after grabbing the provisional No. 1 qualifying position for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at Concord, N.C., that he "tried a couple of components on my bike that I whipped up in the shop just this past week."
Like some Martha Stewart souffle that really hits the spot, Hines found satisfaction in posting a 6.851-second elapsed time at 195.82 mph on the zMAX Dragway quarter-mile. He wasn't sure which was more delicious, starting the Countdown to the Championship as the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle racer or outdoing teammate Eddie Krawiec.
"It's brought my performance closer to Eddie's, which has been an issue as of late," Hines said. "It's nice to be able to run the same speed as Eddie. That just proves how good of a tuner Matt [bother Matt Hines, his crew chief] is. We finally figured it out."
Regardless of the internal contest of who's best, the Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson tandem set the bar for the class on the first of two qualifying days for Sunday's eliminations. The two ran nearly identical numbers. Krawiec, the leader in the opening session and top seed in the six-race playoff, had his best run at 6.853 and improved his speed in Q2 to a class-best 195.85 mph.
Hines, winner of the previous race, said both of his runs "were exceptional. It went perfectly straight down the racetrack. We've got to credit that to all the testing we did before Indy and all the runs we made at the U.S. Nationals. The bike's on a rail right now. The set-up we have in it, it drives away from the starting line and puts up a good 330 (-foot) number.
"It's really hard for us to do that at this track because of the way the starting line drops off," he said. "The track is entirely downhill from the starting line to the finish line. The transition is at the staging beams. This track is just a little different when the vehicles go over that transition. The bike tends to over-rotate when the back wheel goes over that section. So you see a little bit different look in your wheel speed. It's not something normal. We don't put up the big 60-foots [incremental speeds] like you do at other tracks.
"It's something that has thrown us a curveball in the past, but we stayed here last year on Monday and tested with my motorcycle and found a set-up that worked for my bike that we're still fine-tuning."
Hines will have two chances Saturday to record his third top-qualifying position of the season, 33rd of his career, and first at this this sparkling five-year-old Charlotte Motor Speedway facility where he never has won. And he said Friday evening he's not optimistic that this E.T. will remain the standard.
"It's probably not a run that's going to stick," he said. "I'm sure tomorrow morning's going to be 'the run,' which is typical of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. Luckily we were able to get two solid laps under the bike. We'll come out tomorrow swinging and try to keep our Harley -Davidsons in front."
The nature of the weather and conditions at Charlotte are slight speed bumps for his team, Hines said.
"We do run really good speed at this track for the air we have. We've got quite a bit of water grains (in the air). Definitely having more water in the air down here [in the Southeast] is something we have to adjust to. It's just part of the geography here, being close to the ocean. Just the nature of the South, I guess," Hines said. "But luckily we've been able to stumble upon a tune-up that and we're still fine-tuning that with our fuel timing and our clutch setups. It's great to have the motorcycle we have right now."
Moreover, he said, "It's nice to have a change of pace and come here to Charlotte at the beginning of the Countdown and have a great motorcycle. Last year we struggled. We were blowing the tire off right and left. Fortunately, everything's worked out really good so far."
Part of that is winning the U.S. Nationals just days ago.
"Having that U.S. Nationals win was a big relief off my shoulders, because we've been chasing that event for so long. And to finally get a Harley-Davidson in the winners circle with the U.S. Nationals Wally was big for us, a big momentum-changer.
"I had a great-performing motorcycle there. The other three races that I won, it was average. I won two races on a holeshot, and one was on a red light. Hector [Arana] broke [at Indianapolis], but I had the bike there that had to be beat. That did a world of wonders for my confidence."
Hines clarified, saying he wasn't having a bad season by any means but had been lagging behind points leader Krawiec as the two of them beat up on the rest of the class all year.
He noted that he's definitely counting points. "Eddie has five. I have four," he said of the qualifying bonus points from Friday.
No telling what he'll have to whip up to keep the upper hand, not just on Krawiec but on the rest of the field Saturday and Sunday.
All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.
|< Prev||Next >|