Hines wins second straight Indy Battle

Andrew Hines snagged the first big payout of the weekend by winning his second straight Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle Saturday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The Battle is a Pro Stock Motorcycle bonus event held during the NHRA...

Andrew Hines snagged the first big payout of the weekend by winning his second straight Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle Saturday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The Battle is a Pro Stock Motorcycle bonus event held during the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Max Naylor, Tony Schumacher, and Chip Ellis sit atop the Nationals ladders in the PowerAde Pro divisions with two more rounds of qualification attempts remaining on Sunday.

Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers started earning points toward the 2007 Pro Bike Battle at last year's U.S. Nationals. The eight riders accumulating the most points during the 15-race Pro Bike Series earned a berth in the Battle and a shot at their share of the $76,000 purse. The 2007 participants were Hines, Angelle Sampey, Chip Ellis, Craig Treble, Antron Brown, Karen Stoffer, Matt Smith and Steve Johnson.

Hines met Ellis in the final, a rematch of the 2006 Battle final round. To get there Hines took out Smith and Brown while Ellis beat Treble and Sampey. Hines beat Ellis off the line and never looked back, piloting his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle down the quarter mile in 7 seconds flat.

Smiling ear to ear Hines shared "What a dream. This is more than we could ask for. Winning this [Battle] is like winning a championship. You're racing the top eight bikes out there." Hines received a $25,000 bonus check for the Battle victory and will have a chance to earn another $10,000 if he can win Monday's U.S. Nationals Finals.

"I've always wanted to double up and we're in the position to do that now. We're not number one, but we just beat the number one guy" Hines touted. "I wouldn't say it's my experience on this track, it's my team. There's a long history of Vance & Hines winning at this track. I'm just lucky to be the one in the driver's seat right now."

Despite his Battle loss, Ellis maintained the top spot on the PSM ladder with his 6.970 run, the only sub-seven run so far. "It was a good day for us as a team on the whole," Ellis shared. "The money [from the Battle] is nice. But the real deal comes on Monday. We've got a good bike and we've made some good runs, so I know we'll be in good shape for Monday."

Max Naylor leads the Pro Stock field with his 6.655 second run. Naylor, in only his second year in the pro class, may be getting some special positive vibes from the Indy air by running on Hoosier tires. In fact he's the only Pro Stock driver using Hoosiers.

The Indianapolis fans gave Naylor a warm response after his third successful run. "I'm impressed with the crowd turnout and the crowd response," Naylor shared. "That's what this is all about, bonding with those people. They're the ones who make this thing possible."

When asked if his potential Cinderella story could continue on Monday, Naylor responded "As competitive as this [Pro Stock] class is, if you're in the field on Monday you have a chance to win. We'll go out there and attack it as hard as we can."

Tony Schumacher wrote his name in the book, again, speeding his Top Fuel dragster down the quarter mile in 4.477 seconds, a new Indianapolis track record. But for Schumacher, the runs in the sun, though slower, are more significant. "[Tonight] was a good run, but going down the track during the day is way more important for the ninety degrees we'll see on Monday," Schumacher said.

Winner of five U.S. Nationals already, Schumacher shared "I just love coming here. I get more nervous every year though. It's like when you bet on red every time, you know it's got to come up black. Sometimes it's just luck, but we just find a way to win it."

Jeff Arend sits atop the Funny Car field with his 4.754 seconds run. If Arend can hold on to the top spot it will be the first number one of his career. "I was pretty surprised it held up until I saw some of the big teams topping out at 4.79, 4.80," Arend said. "That just told me the conditions and the track weren't quite there tonight. I wasn't complaining, I'm happy to stay at number one."

Notable drivers still outside the top 16 include Funny Car pilots John Force and Tommy Johnson, Jr.; Top Fuelers Doug Kalitta, Whit Bazemore and J.R. Todd; Pro Stock's Rickie Smith and Jason Line.

Sunday's schedule features the Skoal Showdown, the Funny Car bonus event that awards the winner a check for $100,000. Drivers also have two more qualification attempts to improve their times and make Monday's show.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Tommy Johnson , Craig Treble , Karen Stoffer , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Andrew Hines , Jeff Arend , Steve Johnson , Chip Ellis , Max Naylor , J.R. Todd , Angelle Sampey , Matt Smith