For 13 straight weeks in the NHRA Full Throttle Series Pro Stock Motorcycle class, either Andrew Hines or Eddie Krawiec, both former class champions, were in the Winner’s Circle. The Harley-Davidson riders had accomplished a stretch of domination in that time which hadn’t been seen in years.
But last week, at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas, the Screamin Eagle V-Rod bikes mysteriously disappeared.
Not only did neither Hines nor Krawiec win the race, both riders were absent from the finals as Michael Ray took the victory on his Matt Smith Racing Buell over Karen Stoffer and her Suzuki. They weren’t gone long, though, as the pair returned to the PSM finals at Gateway Motorsports Park for the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals with Krawiec taking the win after Hines red-lit. Krawiec’s 6.851 second ET was still stout regardless of his teammate’s uh-oh moment and the defending champ also had the fastest speed of the weekend, running the quarter mile in 197.10 mph during qualifying.
Krawiec came into the event looking to improve his reaction times, but has it turned it, he needn’t have worried. Three of his four wins came as a result of his opponent fouling out. Krawiec’s opponent in the semis was Hector Arana, the only rider to go green against him at the line. The 2009 motorcycle champ lost by .04 seconds at the stripe.
In addition to Arana, Krawiec defeated Steve Johnson in E1 after Johnson was .036 seconds on the wrong side of the light and Chip Ellis, who also red-lit by a mere .001 seconds.
“I lost Dallas due to rider error; I call it rider error,” Krawiec said in the media center after the race. “I ran a .66 (reaction time) and a .66 is unacceptable. My goal this weekend was to be good on the tree all weekend. If you’re good on the tree and you have a good bike, you should win a lot of rounds. That was my hurdle. I had three red lights, but I ran good lights all day and that’s the key thing.”
Hector Arana, Jr., the class top qualifier this weekend in Madison, Ill., fell against Hines in the semi-finals despite a .005 second reaction time against the 2008 event winner.
After last weekend’s disappearance from E4, the two Harley-Davidson riders could have easily claimed the bad weekend was a result of the NHRA adding an additional ten pounds to their bikes and announcing rule changes in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class for 2013 to further even the playing field for the Buells and the Suzukis. Krawiec was quick to say while the added weight is a factor, it still comes down to the rider.
“You have to have a good qualifying bike,” he said. “For us, we gave up qualifying points and we didn’t want to do that and that’s our own fault. We were searching for the tune up and weren’t 100 percent happy off the truck pretty much all weekend. The end result of that (was) yes, we had ten pounds added to us.
“Like I tell everybody, yes, it’s going to slow you down a little bit, it’s not going to knock us off the face of the earth. I think we’re going to feel that ten pounds a little more and it’s grabbed on to the other 20 pounds (that NHRA added earlier this season). Our bikes are acting a little different. They’re certainly not back to acting how we want them to yet and we’re still going to work towards that.”
A big advantage for Krawiec, and the rest of the drivers racing in St. Louis, was the cool temps. Gateway was legendary for its blistering heat when the event was scheduled during the summer and the Harley rider, who was a big fan of the facility prior to this weekend, is an even bigger one now with the new date.
“Gateway looks way different because the temperature is way down!” he said, laughing. “I enjoy this place. This was my second-ever win in 2009. I went to Atlanta and won here making it back-to-back wins. I was excited (to return here). I’ve been Tweeting and throwing things out on my Facebook all week (saying) I can’t wait to go to St. Louis, it should be fun, it’s going to be cool. It’s about time it was in the 70s here.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues its Countdown to the Championship with race No. 4 next weekend at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
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