Gainesville: Vance & Hines Racing preview

Hines Looking To Defend NHRA Powerade Title; Krawiec Looking For First Career Eliminations Appearance Hines and New Teammate Ready to Tackle Season Opener MILWAUKEE (March 13, 2007) -- To be honest, he just wants to get this race over with....

Hines Looking To Defend NHRA Powerade Title; Krawiec Looking For First Career Eliminations Appearance

Hines and New Teammate Ready to Tackle Season Opener

MILWAUKEE (March 13, 2007) -- To be honest, he just wants to get this race over with. Can you blame him?

Eddie Krawiec is the new kid on the block and he wants that first race of his professional NHRA POWERade drag racing career in the books.

He wants that first pass on his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod to go off without a hitch and he wants to stop thinking about what it will "be like" and be able to talk about what "it is" like to race for a championship-winning team.

After all, his teammate, Andrew Hines, is the current and defending three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion. It's not a bad way to kick off your pro career.

Hines and Krawiec may have different motives at the season opening ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, but in the end, they both want to be the last man standing on Sunday.

Krawiec has made appearances at eight NHRA national events in the past, but has yet to qualify for final eliminations.

"I'm really looking forward to getting on that V-Rod and being able to go out there and compete with confidence knowing I have a great motorcycle," Krawiec said. "I've never been in that position before. The team is giving me great equipment to race, Andrew has already shared some of his experience and I think it's all going to help me be there on Sunday.

"Obviously there are a few nerves. I want Gainesville to just get here. I want that first pass over with. I will probably be one of the first, if not the first, rider to make a pass on Friday and I know all eyes are going to be on me. It's exciting but I'll be happy when that first run is over with."

Hines earned the first of his eight career wins at Gainesville Raceway in 2004. He has also earned two No. 1 qualifying awards (2004, 2005) at the season-opening event.

"Gainesville has always been good to me," Hines said. "I'm just excited to start another year of racing. It seems like the offseason takes forever and I think everyone in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class is anxious to finally get back on the track. It seems like this race can never come soon enough for me."

Gainesville continues to be one of the favorite tracks of the entire Harley-Davidson organization.

"When we won the race in 2004, the crowd went nuts with excitement," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "It just made the Harley employees that much more excited. We also made our first pass in the six-second range there, so it's a track with great historical meaning to Harley-Davidson racing and it's a weekend we always look forward to each season."

Hines earned three wins in five final round appearances en route to the third consecutive NHRA title last year. He can't help but look at those numbers and know there is room for improvement.

"I always try to do better than the year before," said the 23-year-old Indianapolis resident. "My entire team strives to set preseason goals and one of them is to win more races than the previous season. First we have to worry about winning rounds and if we can do that, everything will fall into place."

He may be young and he may have already tasted more success than most competitors will throughout their careers, but that doesn't mean he's short on motivation.

"I know I have already accomplished a lot in my career, but I still want to go out there and win," Hines said. "I'm happy with the results so far, but I'm still not satisfied. I think this Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team has more races to win and hopefully more championships to win too.

"The best part is that I caught up with my big brother (three-time champion and current team crew chief, Matt Hines) and that was a big deal. But we still spent the offseason working as hard as we could to find more horsepower and do whatever it took to be prepared for another competitive season."

Another motivating factor in this season's attempt to become the first rider in NHRA history to win four consecutive championships is being able to tackle the new points system implemented by NHRA officials. The Countdown to the Championship will force riders to not only compete for race wins, but valuable points positions.

If you're not in the right position at the right time, you don't get to race for a championship.

Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said it's just one more thing the team has to prepare for this season.

"We have a lot going on this season but the team is ready for all of the challenges," Paluso said. "We have a new Countdown points system, we're trying to defend a championship the way no one ever has in history and we have a new rider set to make his professional debut. We couldn't pick a better place to start all of that at other than Gainesville."

With the new points system the Pro Stock Motorcycle racers will have just 11 events to get into the top eight and therefore become eligible to compete for a championship. Eventually that will be trimmed down and just the top four riders will be able to race for the title at the final two races of the season. Each time the field is cut, the points are readjusted.

With just two races left in the season, for example, four riders will be separated from 10-40 points, making it impossible for anyone to clinch the 2007 NHRA POWERade championship before the season finale at Pomona, Calif., in November.

"I think the new points system is going to make it even more exciting for the fans," Hines said. "It is also going to force teams to stay on top of their game all season long. If you make a mistake at the wrong time, it could mean you're not in the championship countdown."

But first, the team has to focus on Gainesville -- something that's easy for Hines to do.

"I love the Gatornationals," he said. "I like the fan base there and people love the bike class and they always pack the stands. We talk to fans every year that have been to the Gatornationals for 15 consecutive years or more. It makes you want to go back and race there even more because of the dedicated fan base."

-credit: vhr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Andrew Hines , Eddie Krawiec