HINES EARNS SECOND CONSECUTIVE VICTORY AT MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK; TAKES BACK POINTS LEAD Rain Delays Stalls Win For One Day MEMPHIS (Aug. 21, 2006) -- Andrew Hines learned a lot this weekend. He learned how his body and his Screamin' ...
HINES EARNS SECOND CONSECUTIVE VICTORY AT MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK; TAKES BACK POINTS LEAD
Rain Delays Stalls Win For One Day
MEMPHIS (Aug. 21, 2006) -- Andrew Hines learned a lot this weekend. He learned how his body and his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod work together to produce good or poor reaction times. He learned how important momentum is going into the final handful of races in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. He also learned how valuable a good pair of dry shoes is when the rain clears.
Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle V-Rod to victory Monday after rain caused a one-day delay in final eliminations for the 19th annual O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.
The victory propelled Hines back into the No. 1 spot in the POWERade point standings. It was also his second consecutive win in Memphis -- a career first.
"I've never won at the same track twice and this was even more important because there was so much on the line," Hines, a 23-year-old Indianapolis resident, said. "To come back here and win another big race in extreme weather conditions is a testament to what this team can do. We won in Denver in the intense heat and then we come here and deal with the worst heat we've seen all year, tons of rain and lots of delays. And through all of it, the team did such a great job figuring out what we needed to do to get down the track."
Hines beat Antron Brown in the final for his second victory of the season and seventh career win in 15 career final round appearances. Brown had a 15-point lead going into the event and now trails by three points. Hines earned the victory quickly, as Brown left early on his U.S. Army Suzuki, fouling at the starting line. As soon as Hines saw the win-light come on in his lane, he lifted and cruised to the win and the points lead.
It was the fifth time the riders have faced each other this season including two final round matchups. Brown won the first final round face-off (Atlanta) but Hines has the 3-2 lead in the season series.
"It was such a big win because it gives us the positive push we need to make sure we don't end the season like we did last year," Hines said. "Last year we won Memphis and had a good lead in the championship points chase, but we didn't perform well at the track in the last few events of the season. We need to make sure we change that this year. We don't have the same points cushion and if we had not won four rounds today, the points would look a lot different."
Not only did the team have to battle a competitive field of entrants, but massive heat waves, rain storms and race delays as well. Each professional team had just three opportunities to qualify instead of the usual four chances. Then, with the first round of eliminations nearly completed Sunday, the rain came and didn't stop. The teams had to wait until Monday to see which competitors would rise to the top.
The Screamin' Eagle team may have been prepared to face the competition on the track, but they weren't faring nearly as well in the pits. Once the rains had cleared on Friday, the pit was soaked, the schedule was a mess and the crew's feet were, well, a distraction.
"We were in the staging lanes, getting ready to race when the clouds erupted with a torrent of rain," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "There wasn't anything we could do. The guys had to walk the bikes back to the pits through a major rain pour. Once the guys started to get back to work on the bikes, I went and bought everyone a pair of shoes. It was a little thing, but it made everyone a lot more comfortable and able to deal with the big issues of racing. Today they said those were our lucky shoes and if it means buying a new pair for the team every rain storm and delay, I just might do that."
Paluso said that above all else, she's proud of the way the Screamin' Eagle crew managed to be the last team standing after a long weekend.
"The rain is one thing, the heat is another thing, the humidity was outrageous and it just zaps the energy out of everyone," Paluso said. "This team was hot, they were miserable because of all of the schedule changes and delays and yet they kept making changes to the bikes to make sure they got down the track with competitive numbers. They were all superstars this weekend in the pits and they made winning this difficult race look easy."
Hines qualified in the No. 4 position with a 7.091-second pass at 188.02 mph while teammate GT Tonglet qualified in the No. 7 position with a 7.138 pass at 186.79. It was the first time both riders had qualified in the top half of the field in the same event since the Columbus event in May.
"It felt so good to get back out to the track and make a good, clean, fast pass," Tonglet said. "We didn't qualify for the event in Brainerd last weekend and the entire team was consumed with making sure both V-Rods got down the track this time. We knew we had rain in the forecast, which meant we didn't know how many opportunities we would have to qualify. We did it early and left the DNQ behind us for good."
Tonglet lost to Ryan Schnitz and the Team Muzzy Buell in the first round of competition Sunday. Tonglet rode his V-Rod to a 7.241 run at 183.89, falling just short of Schnitz' winning run of 7.237 at 182.45. While Tonglet's .019 reaction time was quick in itself, Schnitz threw down the weekend's best reaction time with a .003 to aid the round win.
Hines beat Geno Scali and the Performance Machine Suzuki team. Hines turned in a 7.196 at 185.10 to top Scali's 7.262 at 183.54. In Round Two, Hines beat Chip Ellis and the G Squared Motorsports Buell team with a 7.081 at 186.95 over Ellis' 7.172 at 183.02. Michael Phillips fouled at the starting line against Hines in the semifinals.
"There were so many tuning challenges thrown at our team this weekend," Hines said. "When the conditions changed, we made great adjustments. When I short-shifted my gears in the first round, my dad went over a few things with me to make sure I corrected that. I also learned that the way I sit on the bike makes a big difference in my reaction times. It was so hot and so miserable all weekend and the team just sat at that computer and crunched the numbers and made all the right calls."
Hines said one of the biggest accomplishments was beating Ellis in the second round.
"If we had lost to Chip, he would have passed me in the points and he's with one of the best teams out here and we didn't want to get behind him," Hines said. "That was a tough field to get through this weekend and it seemed like the Screamin' Eagle crew just got better as the day went on."
With just four events remaining in the POWERade season, the two-time defending Pro Stock Motorcycle champion is determined not to repeat last season's ending.
"This V-Rod is running so well," Hines said. "The bike feels like it is running on a rail and that gives me confidence as a rider. The weekend was so rough on the team between the weather, delays and competition and yet we came out on top. Now we need that to carry over to the rest of the season no matter what the conditions are."
The next NHRA event is the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Aug. 31 -- Sept. 4.