SUNDAY FINAL - HINES BREAKS THE INDY JINX WITH COMPLETION OF CLEAN SWEEP
Now, Andrew Hines can check winning the U.S. Nationals off his bucket list.
Hines, who rides the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, beat Hector Arana Sr. to claim the prestigious title at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Hines clocked a 6.937-second run at 191.70 mph to defeat Arana Sr. who slowed to 7.456 seconds because of engine problems.
“This is really satisfying,” said Hines, who made his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle debut in 2002. “Minus one year of my career, I have raced every year here (at Indy) on a Harley. For us to struggle like we did here with inconsistency and tuning and riding and every scenario possibly you can imagine to finally get the Indy win and stand in the U.S. Nationals winner’s circle is something I can look back on years from now.”
Hines actually won Indy times four times before Sunday, but those wins all came in bonus races.
“I had found the winner’s circle here four times with the Pro Stock battle and to actually stand there with the U.S. Nationals trophy means the world to me,” said Hines, who won Pro Stock Motorcycle world championships from 2004-2006.
Hines’ victory capped a perfect regular season for he and his Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec.
Krawiec, the reigning world champ, and Andrew have combined to win all 10 of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season. Krawiec has six wins and Hines has four. This actually was the 12th win in a row for the Harley riders dating back to the 2011 Last Vegas fall race.
“We remained undefeated in the regular season and we are looking to continue our streak,” Hines said. “Charlotte and Dallas are two tracks I have never won at, those are the last two on my list there. Luckily we were able to come in here (Indy) and keep our streak going, but it is a whole new deal with the Countdown.”
Krawiec is now 30 points in front of second place Hines. The point standings were reset after Indy as the six-race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 14-16 at Charlotte, N.C., followed by Dallas Sept. 20-23.
“Luckily my motorcycle has finally turned the corner where we can tune on it and have fun with it,” Hines said. “This win is something very, very different for our team because my main mechanic Scott (Sceurman) is not here this weekend, so I was turning on a lot of the Matco tools wrenches on the bike and trying to make this thing go up and down the track.”
On Saturday, Hines said Sceurman’s 2-year-old niece died recently and he was in San Francisco this weekend.
Hines defeated Dawn Minturn, Karen Stoffer, and Hector Arana Jr., before meeting Arana Sr. in the finals.
“My hands were a little numb up there on the starting line because of the nerves and the high blood pressure,” said Hines about his feelings headed into the final round. “To finally get this win here with all our co-workers in the stands and all my family here is a totally surreal feeling.”
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - (WEEK TWO) - HARLEYS ARE NO. 1 HEADED INTO FINAL DAY OF REGULAR SEASON
All season, Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec have dominated NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Not even a postponement of the U.S. Nationals could change that theme.
Hines clocked a 6.861-second lap Saturday to capture the pole position at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“I made one of the best runs I have made all year right there in that last session,” Hines said. “I was able to get the No. 1 spot back. My goal coming here was to be No. 1 and try and win that Wally on the last day. Luckily Matt (Hines, Andrew’s brother and crew chief) is giving me the motorcycle to do it. I think my dad (Byron) had an ear-to-ear grin on the starting line for that run and it is amazing what the team has been doing all year long.”
Krawiec and Andrew have combined to win all nine of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season. Krawiec has six wins and Hines has three. Krawiec qualified third at 6.886 seconds.
“He (Krawiec) has a tough bike and hopefully we can get a win with one of them, but preferably mine,” Andrew said. “Luckily we are on opposite sides of the ladder which is key.”
Despite all of Harley-Davidson’s success this season, neither Hines nor Krawiec have won at Indy something that is not lost on Hines.
“This is one track that has been a nemesis to us,” Hines said. “We have had a great history here with the bonus events the Pro Stock bike class has had. Unfortunately, we have never been able to find the winner’s circle on Monday and that’s our goal here to find it on Sunday here with the rainout.”
Last Monday morning, because rain washed the rubber off the track, NHRA officials postponed the U.S. National until Saturday and Sunday at Indy. Prior to the rain, Hines was on the pole.
“Everything is a little different, we are playing a different strategy because this was like a whole new weekend with two new qualifiers,” Hines said. “You threw out pretty much every run from last weekend. Our V-Rods are running strong.”
This was Hines’ second pole of the season and 32nd of his career, four coming at Indy.
The rescheduling of Indy also has left the Harley-Davidson doing some crew adjustments.
“Unfortunately, my crew guy Scott (Sceurman), his 2-1/2-year-old niece died a few weeks ago, and the services were (Saturday),” Andrew said. “He was here last week, but he flew out this week to attend (to) that in San Francisco. His is my right-hand guy. He always does my clutch and takes care of the bike. He is my car chief on my bike. I’m having to get my hands dirty like I used to in the past and learn how to work on this motorcycle. It looks like so far I have put it back together for two runs. I just have to do it for four more (Sunday). We dusted off my dad (Byron) and he is pushing me around the pit area. It is kind of like good ol’ times. That’s how it was in 2003 and 2004 with my dad helping me out. It is unfortunate circumstances, but luckily we were able to perform like we expected.”
SUNDAY - RAIN INVADES THE BIG GO; ACTION SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY
Persistent rains have forced NHRA officials to cancel the final two qualifying sessions for the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Sunday. The fields for all the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series categories -- Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle -- have been set by the qualifying sessions that took place on Friday and Saturday.
Courtney Force in Funny Car, Spencer Massey in Top Fuel, Erica Enders in Pro Stock, and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle will begin eliminations Monday in the No. 1 position.
Fields in the Lucas Oil NHRA Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare RX have also been set.
In addition, the NHRA Traxxas Funny Car Showdown scheduled to run on Sunday has been postponed to a later date.
“We believe that with the forecast for the remainder of the day that it would be extremely difficult to get the track into racing condition,” said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president racing operations. “We are planning to run a full day tomorrow.”
Sportsman racing will begin at 8:00 a. m. with the first round of eliminations for the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series to take place starting at 11 a. m.
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - DANGEROUS CONDITIONS LIMIT BIKES TO ONE RUN ON SATURDAY
THE GREEN MONSTER - The Pro Stock Motorcycle riders didn’t get to make their final qualifying runs Saturday night at the U.S. Nationals.
The session was cancelled when it was determined there was too much dew on the top end of the track after eight Pro Stock cars made runs and several of the drivers had handling problems.
Thus, Andrew Hines’ 6.928-second lap at 194.21 mph on Friday left him on the provisional pole heading into Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“We were in the back of the staging lanes and that was probably a very good call,” said Hines, who pilots one of the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson motorcycles. “I watched Pro Stock up there and three cars in the left lane pushed in the clutch well before the finish line. It wasn’t going to be any good for us. We would have just spun all the way down. Luckily with the bikes, they just wiggle back and forth in the rear end. It doesn’t really get out of control with the bikes, but I’m glad to see no more cars went down the track.”
Hines doesn’t know what to expect from Sunday because of rain in the forecast.
“I was just looking at my weatherchannel.com app and it is looking like there’s up to 90 percent chance of rain,” Hines said. “Hopefully we will have a big enough window that we can get one round in if we are lucky. I feel that we have a good enough motorcycle that if we do get a chance to go out there we can improve.”
If rain does wash out Sunday’s qualifying, Hines isn’t going to fret.
“We were going to go out there (Saturday night) and try and 60 foot a little harder, and we have not been able to get my bike to turn the tire enough off the starting line,” Hines said. “We have a newer tire and it has a lot more bite than we had on the last tire. What we were going to put in (Saturday night) would probably work for first round on eliminations. Following Pro Stock car, the track is way different than what we get if we are in front of Pro Stock car. I think what we have now in the bike, I’m confident it will go out there and lay down a good 60-foot number and put a big ET on the board.”
Eddie Krawiec, Hines’ teammate, and Andrew have combined to win all nine of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season. Krawiec has six wins and Hines has three.
WHAT'S UP WITH THE COL.ORS? - The Harley-Davidson motorcycles driven by Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines have been getting plenty of exposure this season while they have dominated the NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
When Krawiec and Hines pulled up to the line Friday to make their first qualifying runs at the U.S. Nationals they never looked like this.
Both Krawiec and Hines’ motorcycles were sporting different colors and each rider had on vastly different looking riding leather gear.
“It is great to come out and be No. 1, especially debuting the new hard candy custom colors on our Harleys,” Hines said after capturing the provisional pole with a 6.928-second lap. “This is stock paint you can buy through Harley-Davidson. It puts a modern twist on the vintage styling from back in the day and it is great to have some new colors on the bikes. They really pop out there and we got a lot of great feedback from all of our fans so far.”
During the final seven races of the 2012 NHRA season, the Harley motorcycles and Hines and Krawiec will be sporting a variety of new looks.
“We are launching some new products in paint and other things and we want to use this as kind of a highlight,” said Kris Schoonover, the racing manager for Harley-Davidson Motor Company to Competition Plus.com in July at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver. “We have the big strategy of how we are putting stuff out and this is just one step of the way.”
Following Indy, the six-race Countdown to the Championship begins at Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 14-16.
“We wanted to highlight our drag racing program and with these guys (Krawiec and Hines) running the way they are it is perfect,” Schoonover said.
Krawiec (six) and Hines (three) have combined to win all nine of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season.
Schoonover said Krawiec’s motorcycle is going to have a couple of different looks in the final seven races and Hines’ motorcycle likely will keep one new look during those races.
HEY BUDDY, SPARE A LITTLE MAGIC? - This season has been one of frustration for Steve Johnson.
The veteran Pro Stock Motorcycle racer came to the U.S. Nationals 12th in the season points.
On Johnson’s first qualifying pass Friday, he had engine problems, and could not even get off the starting line.
“We came here (to Indy) and tested (last Wednesday) and we thought we left Brainerd with a really fast package,” Johnson said. “Every time I come here (to Indy) and test I wreck all my stuff. I wrecked all my parts. Then, the conditions are all different (Saturday) and I’m just not a smart guy yet. I’m blaming it on (Larry) Dixon. It is all Dixon’s fault. He is the one who said turn the carburetor upside down and put the tire on backwards and all that kind of stuff. Hopefully we will figure it out and we just need runs. I’m all about getting it fixed.”
Speaking of Dixon, Johnson said he is one of many people trying to help the three-time Top Fuel world champion get his Top Fuel team up and running for 2013.
“I’m trying to help Larry with his deal and then I can just hone in on his sponsor,” Johnson said. “If I can help him get a sponsor I can get them to throw us a $1.50 and then we can run my motorcycle.”
Johnson, whose career-best finish was third in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1995, knows landing sponsorship is not easy.
“When you try to get a sponsor to go Mellow Yellow drag racing you need lots of money and lots of resources,” Johnson said. “Larry is a smart guy, but he knows he can’t do it all himself. He has been involved with all kinds of teams and he has seen all kinds of stuff and he just wants to get resources. I’m just one of many resources. He has a team of people. It is exciting to go represent the sport with the kings of the sport. To go into an office and listen to a company’s philosophy and then give them a pitch based on data we have researched and connections. If you have a good relationship and a solid plan about how to make them money drag racing over here in the Mellow Yellow series, it’s exciting.”
Alan Johnson Racing and Dixon agreed to a mutual separation on Dec. 12, 2011. Alan Johnson Racing manages the two-car Top Fuel operation of the Al-Anabi Racing Team. Dixon won the 2010 Top Fuel world title for Al-Anabi.
“I have been helping him (Larry) since December,” Johnson said. “There is tons of progress and all kinds of meetings. There is nothing to report on. It is just a process of going and knocking on doors. The more hooks you can throw in the ocean the better off you are.”
Johnson said he is the godfather to Dixon’s youngest son Darien.
HOPING FOR A GOOD 2013 - This season has been one of frustration for Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angie Smith.
Smith competed full-time on NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle circuit in 2010 and 2011 finishing a career-best 11th in the points last season and 12th in 2010. However, Smith has been limited to entering just five of this season’s nine races.
“This is frustrating because neither one of us (Matt, her husband and herself) have a sponsor,” Angie said. “I can’t be out her full-time and it is really frustrating because I’m not going to race forever. I want to race as much as I can right now. Right now it is just a funding thing.”
Matt Smith runs his Matt Smith Racing operation which includes him and Michael Ray. Both Smith and Ray ride Buells. Angie has competed on an MSR Buell at Englishtown, N.J., Chicago, Norwalk, Denver and Sonoma.
Angie wrecked during the final qualifying session at Norwalk. She clocked a 7.10-second time to get in the field. Then, Smith’s brakes failed and she sped through the shutdown area and the sand trap, laying the bike down just before the cornfields. She didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
Right now, Angie is trying to secure 2013 sponsorship.
“I’m working on a couple of deals and they may not all be on a bike,” Angie said. “It may be in a car, but we will have to see what comes. This is just one of those deals where something might come about and maybe nothing comes about. I am trying to stay positive about everything. Either way, I want to be out here on a bike or I want to be out here in a car. I want to be out here racing. I’m staying out here of course with Matt and working on the bikes and stuff like that and I’m learning a lot in that aspect, but ultimately I want to be a driver.”
Back in November 2010, Angie tested behind the wheel of the Yonke Motorsports/JB Coffman Enterprises Pro Stock Pontiac GXP.
When asked if the car option seeks is Pro Stock, Angie had a quick response.
“No, and I will just say that,” Angie said. “It will not be a Pro Stock car. I would love to be able say we have something in the works and we are going to do this deal, but right now it is all about funding.”
As for the remainder of 2012, Angie said there is a possibility she will ride again.
“I may race at Las Vegas (Oct. 25-28) and Pomona (Nov. 8-11),” Angie said. “I am not sure yet.”
NOT A HECTOR, BUT HE'S AN ARANA - Last week, Adam Arana took another step closer to making his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle debut.
Arana, 21, did six test laps on a Buell at Lucas Oil Raceway last Wednesday in Indianapolis.
“He is getting more and more comfortable with the bike,” said Hector Arana Sr., Adam’s father. “He went 7.05 seconds at 189 mph. His lights seemed too good. His first light was a 24, then a 28, and then a 17, a 007 and a 001. He asked me ‘why are my lights getting better? I think I’m going to redlight.’ I told him to not worry about it because he is just getting more comfortable with the bike. That’s a good sign. Plus, he is able to tell me know what is happening and what is going on.”
Arana Sr. said Adam obtained his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle license on July 2 at Chicago following the national event at Route 66 Raceway in the Windy City.
“He had not been back on the bike since we tested at Indy (last Wednesday),” Arana Sr. said.
Arana Sr. said the plan is for Adam to run a limited schedule in 2013.
“We have to find more funding for him to run a full schedule,” Arana Sr., said. “He will not run any races this season because the Countdown is starting and we need to concentrate on our program. I hate to add a third bike. We need to stay focused to try and win the championship.”
Arana Jr. and the elder Arana came to the U.S. Nationals third and fourth in the season points.
Arana Sr. spent part of Saturday at the U.S. Nationals trying to deal with the rainy weather. Arana Sr. and Adam’s other brother Adam, compete full-time on Lucas Oil-sponsored Buells.
“You get lazy and you think you have plenty of time then suddenly they can come around and say let’s go staging,” Arana Sr. said. “Then, you are running trying to get everything together and you pretty much had all the time to get everything ready.”
Arana Sr. also knows he can’t control the weather.
“We are just going to come to the track and see what happens,” Arana Sr. said. “I want the race to get over this weekend because I still have a couple of motors to finish before we go to Charlotte.”
The six race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 14-16 at Charlotte, N.C.
Arana Sr. and Hector Arana Jr. have been the closest to ending the Harley-Davidson domination. Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson riders Eddie Krawiec (six) and Andrew Hines (three) have combined to win all of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle events this season. Krawiec and Hines actually have won 11 races in a row dating back to the Las Vegas fall race.
“My son (Hector Jr.) learned something from Brainerd and we just have to stay focused,” Arana Sr. said. “We sure going to work hard and find something. We can’t let them go and win all the races this year.”
PHILLIPS TRYING TO REVERSE HIS FORTUNES – Michael Phillips, a veteran NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider, crashed during a testing run Jan. 16 at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park.
Phillips suffered minor injuries in the accident, but his Suzuki suffered pretty extensive damage.
And, he has yet to recover all season. Phillips came to the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis 13th in the points.
After three qualifying runs through Saturday, Phillips’ best run was 7.213 seconds, which left him No. 19 on the qualifying ladder, prior to Saturday's final qualifying sesssion.
“I just have to get a good tune-up,” Phillips said. “Ever since I fell on this thing (in Brandenton) I have not made a decent run down the race track. It was one thing after another breaking on me.”
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - ONE SESSION TODAY, TWO FOR SATURDAY
WHEN HUSTLE MEETS MUSCLE - All season, Harley-Davidson has dominated NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Andrew Hines flexed his muscles Friday in the first qualifying session at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Hines clocked a 6.928-second lap at 194.21 mph to capture the provisional pole at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“Coming out here (to Indy last Wednesday) and testing was key for our V-Rods to come out here (Friday) and be fast,” Hines said. “We had to get our Harley-Davidson’s down the track with some new tires and put some laps on some chains and break everything in for this weekend. We wanted to be fast out of the truck. This is the air that our Harleys breathe all year long on our dynos. We are only two miles down the road in Brownsburg (Ind.). It makes it a little easier for us to come out here, but this is the Big Go, and it is our home race. So we have all the added pressure and stress of co-workers being out here. This is a totally different weekend than a normal race weekend.”
Eddie Krawiec, Hines’ Vance & Hines teammate, and Andrew have combined to win all nine of NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season. Krawiec has six wins and Hines has three. Hector Arana Jr. (6.932) and Krawiec (6.953) qualified second and third Friday.
At Indy, Hines and Krawiec debuted with new colors on their bikes and their leathers.
“It is great to come out and be No. 1, especially debuting the new hard candy custom colors on our Harleys,” Hines said. “This is stock paint you can buy through Harley-Davidson. It puts a modern twist on the vintage styling from back in the day and it is great to have some new colors on the bikes. They really pop out there and we got a lot of great feedback from all of our fans so far.”
During the final seven races of the 2012 NHRA season, the Harley motorcycles and Hines and Krawiec will be sporting a variety of new looks.
NHRA addressed the issue of parity in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class March 20 by increasing the minimum weight for the Harley Davidson 160-cid, 4-valve combination by 20 pounds, from 640 pounds to 660 pounds. That added weight, however, hasn’t slowed down the Harleys. Krawiec and Hines actually have combined to win 11 races in a row, dating back to the fall race at Las Vegas in 2011.
However, neither Hines or Krawiec have won Indy, something Hines would like to change.
“It would be huge if we could win Indy, but the biggest thing is we just want to keep our streak going,” said Hines, who has 28 career NHRA wins. “I would not give any of the races I have won away for Indy. I like everyone I get and this is just another one I want to have. I have been in the winner’s circle here four times in the former Ringers battle, and I know where it is and I just have to find it on Monday.”
Krawiec and Hines are locked into the No. 1 and No. 2 spots heading into the Countdown to the Championship, which begins Sept. 14-16 at Charlotte. Hines still isn’t taking anything for granted.
“This is just a mission for us to go out there and do the best that we can,” Hines said. “Eddie and I are trying to excel as riders and racers more than just going out there and running fast. We have to be able to win when the bike is not there for us. It is going to happen sooner or later. We are going to get a hiccup in the road and somebody is going to get us on Sunday, it is bound to happen, and hopefully it doesn’t happen here on Monday. This is a race that has eluded us for so long that we want to get it and we are here to do it.”
ENCOURAGED - All season, Matt Smith has been searching for the right combination for his Pro Stock Motorcycle team.
Last week in testing at Indianapolis and Rockingham, N.C., he believes he found it.
“We have done a lot of testing over the last week or so and I think we basically found our problem of what has been plaguing us all year,” said Smith, the 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ. “I can’t say what it is, but we have found the problem and I think we are going to be pretty fast (now).”
Smith runs his Matt Smith Racing operation which includes him and Michael Ray. Both Smith and Ray ride Buells.
“Both Michael and I tested last Wednesday at Indy, and I just didn’t feel like we ran as good as we thought we should,” Smith said. “We packed up and Michael had to go home and I went to Rockingham and tested with (Pro Stock drivers) Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Shane Gray on Friday. I picked up six hundredths and four mph. I think we found out what has been plaguing us this whole year.”
Smith’s hopeful the new combination will pay dividends at his team’s most important race of the season, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis which begin Thursday and conclude Monday.
The U.S. Nationals is the final race of the regular season before the six race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 14-16 at Charlotte. To qualify for the Countdown, Smith and Ray have to place in the top 10 in the point standings following Indy. Ray (419) and Smith (374) are eighth and ninth in points. Shawn Gann (367) and John Hall (345) are 10th and 11th.
“We have kind of gone the wrong direction (with their tune-ups),” Smith said. “We thought everything was right and it wasn’t.”
Smith said in addition to he and Ray, Dawn Minturn is renting his third Buell for Indy.
“She tested up with us at Indy and ran good,” said Smith of Minturn. “My goal is to qualify all three bikes and definitely Michael and I should both be in the top six. There is more pressure (because of the Countdown) because ever since I have been doing this on my own I have not even been close to being in this kind of situation. I’m just glad we found out what we have been struggling on, and I think we will be fine. We are trying to get things back to where they should be.”
Smith was No. 8 after the first day with a 7.019 elapsed time.
PARTING WAYS - After nearly a decade under the GEICO umbrella, Pro Stock Motorcycle star Karen Stoffer will part ways with the insurance giant at the end of 2012.
GEICO executives lauded Stoffer for her many accomplishments with the GEICO brand on her Suzuki drag bikes and saluted the rider for her unwavering support and professionalism.
"Karen Stoffer has been a remarkable ambassador for GEICO and we extend our many congratulations on her numerous achievements over the years," said Bill Roberts, executive vice president. "Karen helped carry our motorcycle brand for almost a decade and introduced GEICO insurance to drag racing fans across the country. She was always a gracious and knowledgeable spokesperson for our products and we are very grateful for her spirited support."
Stoffer's six victories are third-most by a female drag racer in NHRA history, behind only Angelle Drago (41) and Shirley Muldowney (18). She is one of only 10 women to qualify No. 1 at an NHRA national event and one of only 12 women to win an NHRA national event in any category.
Since gaining GEICO sponsorship, Stoffer has recorded nine straight top-10 finishes in the championship points, including six consecutive years under the Countdown to the Championship playoff format. She also had a remarkable stretch of six years without recording a DNQ (2005-2010).
In 2010, Stoffer claimed the national record for elapsed time with a run of 6.847 seconds in Gainesville, Fla.
"We had a long, successful marketing partnership with GEICO and I thank them for eight great years together," Stoffer said. "We strived to provide GEICO and our other partners the platform and network to develop great business synergies within the NHRA. We plan on continuing that trend with other partners in the future."
THROUGH THE STORM, AGAIN - On Sunday and Monday, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider LE Tonglet spent time moving equipment in his dad Gary Tonglet’s shop in Metairie, La.,in preparation of Hurricane Isaac coming ashore. Metairie is five minutes from New Orleans.
“We moved everything in the shop from downstairs to upstairs,” said LE, the 2010 NHRA world champion. “We got no damage at all. It is not like Katrina, but areas that did not get wet from Katrina are under water right now. I know a lot of people who lost their houses. It is a tough time again.”
As of Thursday evening, up to 50,000 people in Louisiana's Tangipahoa Parish, which is located 100 miles north of New Orleans, were ordered to evacuate when water from Isaac - which by late afternoon had weakened to a tropical depression - threatened to overwhelm a dam across the state line in Mississippi.
“We drove up here (to Indianapolis) Tuesday morning and my mom and sister stayed behind at home (in Metairie), and thankfully they never lost power,” LE said about Isaac which hit Louisiana late Tuesday night.
Back in August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods killed nearly 2,000 people while roaring through Louisiana, specifically New Orleans, and leaving a path of destruction in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
“I remember Katrina,” LE, 22, said. “We were sitting in the motor home watching it on TV when the wall broke. It wasn’t on the same side as our house, but the water went around and actually flooded our house where all our bikes were kept. Our old trailer that we used to haul the bikes was flooded. Kenny Bernstein actually helped us get this trailer that we are still using now. He had a thing going where he was raising money for us, and without him we probably would not have this trailer.”
Tonglet comes to the U.S. Nationals seventh in the points and will try to secure a top 10 spot at Indianapolis to qualify for the six race Countdown to the Championship which begins Aug. 14-16 in Charlotte, N.C.
More importantly for Tonglet, earlier this week he landed a primary sponsor - ZLOOP Computer and Electronic Recycling Centers – for the final seven races of this season.
“We have them for these seven races and we have talked about next year,” LE said. “I’m pretty sure they will stay onboard (for 2013). We are really excited and ZLOOP is really excited. They are all about bringing awareness about recycling computers and stuff like that. Believe it or not, they contacted us. I was at work one day and they called and the next thing you know they were talking to my dad about sponsoring us.”
The timing could not have been better for team Tonglet. Tonglet races a Suzuki powered by Vance & Hines motors.
“We sat out Sonoma, and they (ZLOOP) called us when they noticed we skipped Sonoma,” LE said. “We were going to come here (to the U.S. Nationals), and then after that it was all up in the air (because of lack of sponsorship). This is relief now because we are guaranteed to go to the next race. We feel that we can make some noise in the Countdown. It is just going to be a matter of keeping everybody on the team calm and keeping the parts lasting. We have not had time for testing with the storm and everything like that, but that should not be a problem. We feel really confident with the set up we have now for Indy.”
Officials from Hickory, North Carolina-based ZLOOP Computer And Electronic Recycling Centers announced today the marketing partnership agreement with GT Motorsports and driver L.E. Tonglet for the remainder of the 2012 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock Motorcycle division season.
The alignment with GT Motorsports is the first in the Motorsports sector for ZLOOP in NHRA, but also signifies the company’s launch towards bringing attention to race fans about the seriousness of eWaste and educating them about the proper disposal of used or outdated computers and electronics.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK -
A KILLER SEASON - The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team has won every Pro Stock Motorcycle race in the 2012 regular season. To make it a clean sweep, a perfect 10-for-10, they only have one more regular season race to go before the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin.
Defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and his teammate, three-time world champ Andrew Hines, have blitzed the competition this season. Krawiec has won six times and Hines has claimed three victories. They are one and two in the points standings and seemingly unstoppable.
Yet, standing in the way of perfection is not one of their competitors. It is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, the world’s most prestigious drag race. Neither rider has won the “Granddaddy” of them all. In fact, the last time a Vance & Hines rider celebrated in the winner’s circle at Indy was 1999, when Andrew’s older brother Matt Hines rode to victory on a Suzuki.
“As much as you would like to say Indy is just like every other race, it’s not,” Krawiec said.
As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Indianapolis for the Big Go, Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway, Krawiec hopes to finally break through for a victory at the sport’s oldest and most tradition-rich event.
“I look forward to this event every year with hopes of winning the Wally,” Krawiec said. “My first career NHRA payday came at Indy in 2008 when I won the Ringers Pro Bike Battle $25,000 bonus check on Saturday, but my Monday fell short. Since then my Indy luck hasn’t been very good and our Harley Davidson V-rods haven’t ever been in the Monday Winner’s Circle.”
However, if their performance during the regular season doesn’t give the team the confidence it needs to win at Indy, nothing will. The team has maximized its potential in qualifying and during eliminations during the first nine races of the season. The two riders have used their experience and skill to keep their Harley-Davidsons in the winner’s circle all season long. In fact, their impressive winning streak dates back to 2011, where they won the final two races of the season.
“We know (the streak) is going to come to an end eventually, who really knows what is going to happen,” Krawiec said. “The key is to have good lights and have good consistent runs. You have to manage the track. But eventually they are going to get you.”
The riders who have come closest to defeating the Harley-Davidson team is the Lucas Oil Buell team of past Indy winners Hector Arana Sr. and Arana Jr. Three other former Indy winners are in the field, including two-time winner Steve Johnson, LE Tonglet and Matt Smith.
Krawiec is embracing the opportunity to keep the streak going and grab a win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
“I feel I perform better under pressure,” Krawiec said. “I haven’t got to that point yet where I feel any unnecessary pressure. It’s inevitable you are going to lose at some point, it’s just a matter of when. But if guys are going to continue to give us win lights by red-lights and making falters and bobbles, then it’s only going to make it easier for us. Our objective from here on out is to make no mistakes.”
The Harley-Davidson team also will receive a lot of support during the weekend, as its race shop is based in Brownsburg.
“Our Vance & Hines shop is about two miles away from the track, so we call Indy our home track,” Krawiec said. “The team lives in the area so we have the support of all our families, fellow employees, fans and friends out at the track, so that is another reason why the race is important to us.
“Hopefully we will be able to look back after this Indy and say 2012 was the Indy to remember.”
A LASTING IMPRESSION - Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. knows the feeling of winning the U.S. Nationals, and he'd love to experience that again.
Arana Sr. won at Indy in 2009, and he'll be one of the favorites in Pro Stock Motorcycle in this weekend's 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway.
"It's a great feeling to have won that race and go in the history books," Arana Sr. said. "No one can take that away from you. To do it again would be even better."
Arana has raced at Indy since 1990, when he made his first start on a Pro Stock Motorcycle for The Big Go. Plus, he lives in Milltown, Ind., about 120 miles south of Lucas Oil Raceway, so he understands the importance of the U.S. Nationals.
"This is the biggest race all year," Arana Sr. said. "It's the grand-daddy, the biggest one you want to win. It's the U.S. Nationals, so to me it's the most prestigious race there is."
ONE MORE TIME - One year ago, Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. joined an exclusive list as a winner of the U.S. Nationals.
Now, the 23-year-old would love to repeat in this weekend's 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway.
"This year has flown by," Arana Jr. said. "I can't believe that we're almost to Indy again. For some reason last year, it seemed like it took so much longer to do the whole year, and this year, everything is just flying by. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because we're doing better this year and there's been a little bit less stress. But this year has been really good so far.
"To win that race again would definitely be another dream come true. To be able to repeat my first race - and to be undefeated at that race - would definitely be amazing."
Arana Jr. entered Indy last year without a victory in his rookie season, but he was coming off a final-round appearance at Brainerd, as his riding was catching up to the performance of his Lucas Oil Buell. Then, at Indy, he beat Angie Smith, L.E. Tonglet, Chip Ellis and Jerry Savoie to secure the first of his three victories of 2011.
RACING HARD TO GAIN GROUND - Karen Stoffer is ready for anything this weekend.
Why? Because of the importance of the U.S. Nationals, many competitors in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class will pull out all the stops to try to win, something the wily veteran knows well.
"I'm looking at it is any other race but not everyone does," Stoffer said. "The goal right now is to go rounds and try and figure out how to beat those big V-motors. Right now, the Suzukis are racing past first round - and that's it. We've got to figure out a way to try to get them to screw up. Maybe there's going to be more antics on the starting line. Who knows?"
Stoffer isn't one to engage in games on the starting line, preferring to race competitors the way she likes to be raced.
"I don't try and change, but I certainly try to be aware of it," Stoffer said. "That's what's going to happen. When you're in extreme situations, you pull out extreme measures. I can do that, I used to have to do that. I'd prefer not to, just because I want to beat you fair. But right now, it's really not fair, so you're going to have to delve into it.
"I don't like playing games, but there certainly might be a little slower staging and maybe a few wars. Maybe a little, 'I've got to fix my clutch cable' right on the starting line. You've seen a little bit of that more and more. I guarantee you're going to see it more and more in the future if things stay the same. Right now, there's absolutely no chance for anyone but the 4-H club to win."
FIRST TIME FINALIST TRIES FOR SECOND ONE - The importance of the U.S. Nationals, the oldest and most significant event on the NHRA calendar, isn’t lost on Jerry Savoie, runner-up at the event last season.
Savoie’s 2011 Indy debut included an upset win over champion Eddie Krawiec and victories against Jim Underdahl and Karen Stoffer before he ultimately lost to then-fellow rookie rider Hector Arana Jr. in the final.
“I hated to skip Brainerd, but if it means that we’ll be more competitive for Indy, then I guess that’s a fair trade,” said Savoie. “Indy is our biggest race, and it’s the one that everyone wants to win. I had such a great time last year. It was cool to get to our first final. I’d love to go back and do it all over again this year.”
As for which motorcycle he will ride in Indy, Savoie plans to once again pilot his Suzuki Hayabusa – the same bike that carried him to a season-best 6.92 at last month's Sonoma event.
BACK FOR ANOTHER RUN - It has been two months since Kieth Burley made his highly anticipated NHRA debut as the driver of the Junior Pippin-owned Triumph Castrol Pro Stock Motorcycle at the Route 66 Nationals near Chicago, but Jupiter, Florida-based Burley has been anything but idle during the down-time. The young rider has done his homework and is fresh off of a productive test session in preparation for the most prestigious event on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour: the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
"There was so much energy and excitement associated with debuting the Triumph Castrol Pro Stock Motorcycle in Chicago, and the rush that goes along with introducing the fans to these great brands of Castrol Motorcycle Oil and Triumph North America – it's just unparalleled," said Burley, who rode competitively in the AHDRA early in his career and now pilots an S&S Performance-powered two-wheeled machine. "The awesome thing for me is that we feel just as excited to get back out there and race at one of the most historic events in our sport.
"It's a new bike, and we had some issues in Chicago that meant that things didn't come out the way we wanted them to – but now we have a chance to redeem ourselves, and also to get out there and touch a whole new group of people who haven't yet had a chance to see us race. I could not be more excited."
In Chicago, Burley came to the starting line for every available qualifying pass, but electrical gremlins wreaked havoc to stunt their efforts, and ultimately, the team fell just short of edging their motorcycle into the field.
"We've tested a lot in the last two months," said Burley, who will be tuned at the U.S. Nationals and through the remainder of the season by newly appointed crew chief David Bost, an instrumental part of the team since its inception. "Through it all, we have been able to identify problems and find solutions – and a lot of those areas that have required improvement are ones that other top teams have already found. We're catching on and catching up, and those big issues that we faced in Chicago, we've been able to fix them. Now it's just a matter of putting it all together on raceday.
"Our goal as a team is to really come out and show everyone that the package we've put together makes the Triumph Castrol Pro Stock Motorcycle a bike to be reckoned with. Back in the pits, the fans will see that we're here for them 110 percent. On the racetrack, we want to show everyone that this is no joke; we're here to race with the best of them."
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