Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 20, with sessions at 4:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
EPPING, N.H. – Eddie Krawiec felt he didn’t give a true showing of what he is capable of at New England Dragway a year ago. With Krawiec and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Andrew Hines firmly back to their impressive ways in Pro Stock Motorcycle, do not expect that problem a second time.
Krawiec and Hines have met in each of the last three PSM final rounds on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit and Krawiec, who won in Atlanta, carries plenty of confidence and momentum in his return to New England Dragway for this weekend’s second annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, N.H. It’s also a far different position than when Krawiec arrived in Epping for the inaugural event in 2013.
“Last year, Epping and Chicago was the rock bottom for Andrew and myself,” Krawiec said. “We put in countless hours trying to figure it out after that and I’m definitely excited to return. I’m looking forward to this event and Epping could have some really, really good air. Hopefully we can treat the fans to some 6.70s this year.”
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the inaugural winners of an event that exceeded all expectations and will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. It marks the fifth of 16 races for the PSM class, and Krawiec has returned to championship form.
That wasn’t the case a year ago for Krawiec, the 2012 PSM champion, when he qualified 14th in Epping and 16th in Chicago, losing in the first round at both events. That spurred massive changes and long hours at the shop, something that really became evident during the off-season.
But the end result has been well worth it, as newfound horsepower has led to impressive results for both Krawiec and Hines, who is the points leader and has won two of the past three events. Krawiec has been nearly as impressive, qualifying first at both Atlanta and Englishtown, putting together a run of 6.747 at 198.90 mph at his home track in New Jersey.
“I definitely think our program went in the direction we were expecting over the winter,” Krawiec said. “We put in endless hours of research and development trying to find power. It’s very hard to do during the season, but we spent the entire off-season working on that and the power has continued to get better and better. All the guys at the shop have a vested interest in the program and they had to dig deep to get us to win and be competitive again.”
The turnaround has Krawiec excited to return to Epping as well. Despite his performance and early exit, Krawiec was thrilled with the turnout as well as the reaction to the PSM class.
“I really liked it up there,” Krawiec said. “It has a grassroots feel to it and everybody loved having us there. I was excited to have the bikes part of a new market and the fans there were really enthusiastic to have us. I love these new markets and new events for the class.”
Krawiec will face strong competition from a talented field that seems to grow by the event. Hall beat Adam Arana in the final at New England Dragway a year ago and other top challengers include reigning world champion Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr., Michael Ray and Scotty Pollacheck.
The Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals also starts a stretch of five races in six weeks for the PSM class, something Krawiec views as an opportunity to leave a significant impression on the rest of the category.
“It’s more of an endurance test,” Krawiec said. “We’re seeing the class get a lot tighter and I think we have some great momentum right now. Andrew and I are sitting in a good position and this is our opportunity to stretch things out. We’re going to try our best to do that, but there’s a lot of great bikes in this class.”
In Top Fuel, Massey is looking for a repeat victory at New England Dragway and his third victory overall in 2014. Other contenders in the talent-packed class include points leader Doug Kalitta, who advanced to his sixth final of the year in Bristol, 2012 world champion Antron Brown, seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence, 2013 Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force, defending world champion and Bristol winner Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd.
Courtney Force, who beat her father and 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force in the final a year ago, recently earned the 100th professional win for a female NHRA driver in Topeka and is after her second win of the season. She is chasing points leader Robert Hight while other championship-caliber drivers include Alexis DeJoria, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Del Worsham, Tommy Johnson Jr., who won the most recent event in Bristol, Jack Beckman and local favorite and Rhode Island native Bob Tasca III.
The 2012 Pro Stock world champion Johnson is currently third in points with a class-best three wins but is chasing teammate and reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin, as well as points leader Erica Enders-Stevens, who has won three times including this past weekend in Bristol. Other factory hot rod class hopefuls seeking a first win at Epping include Vincent Nobile, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, V Gaines, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray and Chris McGaha.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Families who are planning to attend the event will want to take advantage of the free general admission tickets for kids ages 12 and under. Fans will also want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The race will also showcase the thrilling action in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 20, with sessions at 4:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 21, at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 22.