The two of them will be debating this final round between themselves for at least a couple of days, but Pro Stock Motorcycle finalists Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec knew one thing about the finish of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals that makes them both feel like winners.
No matter who won, the Wally trophy was going to go back to the race shop at Vance & Hines at Brownsburg, Ind. -- where every bike-class Wally has ended up this season. Moreover, the Vance & Hines team tied the KB/Summit Pro Stock team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line in posting the longest consecutive winning streak at 13 races. That includes the team's two victories at the close of last season.
So while Hines and Krawiec can quibble about parts and pieces and tune-up subtleties with their Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson bike twins, the rest of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class will have to go back to the drawing board in figuring how to halt that streak.
They kept up their domination at zMAX Dragway this weekend, as Hines took another giant stride Sunday in catching up with Krawiec, the current champion who still leads the standings and has a 10-point edge on Hines.
The edge on the quarter-mile Sunday went to No. 1 qualifier Hines, by .0042 of a second, or about 14 inches. Hines won on a holeshot with a 6.862-second elapsed time at 194.49 mph to Krawiec's quicker and faster 6.858, 195.14.
He said his bike wasn't making the speed Sunday that Krawiec's was so he "took a stab at a tune-up in the final that we hadn't gone in that direction today -- and it worked. I needed to try something. And what better time?"
As for the sting of success, Hines said, 'We know the streak's got to come to an end at some point. We have to take them one race at a time."
Although things went his and his team's way all day, he said the weather challenges annoyed him.
"It was a long day," he said, referring to all the rain showers and constant meteorological monitoring. "It was rather frustrating as a racer. It seemed like every time they [track-prep officials] were getting close [to having the surface ready to start eliminations] they would get another rain shower. Eddie being a track guy [he was dragstrip manager at Englishtown, N.J.'s Raceway Park before joining Hines as a teammate and co-worker], he knows how long it takes to dry stuff off. We just tried to stay calm. We had to keep our focus all day long.
"We were on a mission here, to defend our regular-season win streak of 10 in a row and we needed to come out here and see if we could come out here and do that, Hines said.. "Luckily everything in the end panned out for us. It's just a great feeling to start off the Countdown this way.
"Last year I really struggled. The motorcycle wasn't consistent and my riding wasn't consistent. To come in here this year and qualify No. 1 and win the race is huge for me," he said after recording back-to-back victories that nudged his career totals to 30.
"It could have gone wither way there in the final," he said. "That was also a 20-point swing either way. I came in here second to Eddie. I could have left here 50 behind if his win light had turned on. So it was big for my half of the team. Just got to keep that momentum going."
Both reached the final round by taking advantage of the Arana father-son duo's misfortunes.
Hector Arana's Lucas Oil Buell launched fine in his semifinal race against Hines, but it quickly went sour.
"It launched, and I felt the Gs pulling," Arana Sr. said. "All that is normal, and then suddenly, it just threw me forward. It threw me forward so hard that I hit the windshield. I could hear the motor on the rev limiter already, so I just pulled in the clutch and killed it right there."
Hines would have been hard to beat with his 6.858-second E.T. at 193.16 mph.
Arana Jr. jumped the starting line seven-thousandths of a second too quickly against Krawiec. He didn't know he had red-lighted, so he continued to race and his Buell spun the tire and later washed out down the track.
"They said the bike creeped," Arana Jr. said of his foul start. "But it was also dark, so you see the lights better, quicker. That's just what happens."
What happens next is the Pro Stock Motorcycle class heads with the rest of the pros to the Texas Motorplex, near Dallas, for the second of six Countdown races this weekend.
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