RAIN HALTS JUST LONG ENOUGH TO FINISH READING EVENT; SCREAMIN' EAGLE'S HINES AND KRAWIEC IN THE COUNTDOWN Harley-Davidson Riders Both Advance to Round Two of Countdown READING, Pa., (Aug. 22, 2007) -- Eddie Krawiec has never taken any acting...
RAIN HALTS JUST LONG ENOUGH TO FINISH READING EVENT; SCREAMIN' EAGLE'S HINES AND KRAWIEC IN THE COUNTDOWN
Harley-Davidson Riders Both Advance to Round Two of Countdown
READING, Pa., (Aug. 22, 2007) -- Eddie Krawiec has never taken any acting classes. But that hasn't stopped him from feeling like he spent the last few days acting out a role that was perfected by Bill Murray in 1993 -- Groundhog Day.
Krawiec's alarm clock went off at the same time every morning since Sunday, all with the hopes that he would race his way into the final round of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
And every day, his quest had ended with raindrops. Until Wednesday, thankfully.
Krawiec and his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod teammate Andrew Hines each raced one round of the 16-bike field eliminations on Sunday. Then the rain fell. They raced each other in the second round on Monday. Then the rain fell.
Rain fell off and on all day Tuesday. Just when officials started to bring competitors to the starting line, the rain fell again, forcing the NHRA to delay the final two rounds of action until Wednesday. Mercifully, the rain stopped long enough for Krawiec to run his semifinal matchup against Angelle Sampey and the U.S. Army Suzuki team. Sampey won the round, but Krawiec said it was still worth waiting a few extra days to potentially race for a victory.
With the new Countdown to the Championship playoff format, there was no other choice but to wait it all out in Reading.
Starting this year, NHRA has developed a playoff format for all professional categories. The top eight competitors in each category will advance to the second round starting with the Aug. 29 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. You can't even be in the hunt for a championship if you aren't in the top eight.
Hines clinched a No. 3 position and with the help from two final rounds and a semifinal finish in the last three races, Krawiec moved from 10th to a solid Countdown-qualified sixth place.
"Unlike any previous year, we just couldn't bump the race to another weekend," Krawiec said. "There were 14 teams (combined in the four pro categories) that stayed at this track waiting around for a few extra days just trying to see who was going to bump into the Countdown, who was going to get bumped out and who could earn the event trophies.
"It was a long race for us, but it was still a good event. But it really did feel like Groundhog Day for a while. I just kept repeating my morning routine over and over. It would have been nice if that routine could have been broken with my first NHRA win, but now we can head home and start focusing on next week's U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis."
Krawiec beat Michael Phillips and the Phillips Racing Suzuki team in the first round. Krawiec recorded a 7.076-second pass at 186.92 mph on his V-Rod, topping Phillips' 7.931 at 122.67.
Hines beat current points leader Matt Smith and the Torco Racing Fuels Buell team in the opening round. Hines turned in a 6.976 at 189.39 to take the win over Smith's 7.032 at 176.28.
Krawiec beat Hines with a better reaction time, but slower E.T., in the second round. Krawiec's .021 reaction time helped his 6.952 at 189.47 beat Hines' quicker 6.942 at 189.71 (.032 reaction).
Krawiec lost to Sampey in the semifinals. Krawiec's 7.049 at 189.42 came up short against Sampey's 6.897 at 192.47.
"I think we had great momentum from the first and second round and I was really starting to feel like I was in a good groove, but we had to put it on hold for weather," Krawiec said. "That was out of everyone's hands so as difficult as it was to sit around for a couple of days to wait for the rain to clear, it was nice knowing that we were one of the last teams standing for this event and that we had a chance at the win."
Hines has collected 11 career victories and 20 No. 1 qualifying awards en route to three consecutive NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle championships throughout his young career. Hines was in second place in the standings going into the Reading event, 183 points away from Smith, but is now in third place behind Smith and Sampey, respectively.
Once the second round of the Countdown starts, however, he will be just 20 points away from Smith as the top eight riders will not only be eligible to compete for the championship, but the points will be readjusted so that each rider is separated by just 10 points going into the U.S. Nationals.
"I think it's great that we qualified for the first Countdown in NHRA history," Hines said. "Now we're only one round behind the points leader and that's a big deal. We struggled so much at the beginning of the season and I wasn't even sure if we were going to be in the top eight when the Countdown made the first cut.
"It's awesome that we have both bikes in the Countdown when only eight have qualified. Eddie has been on a hot streak to get into the Countdown and I think it's been a fun year just battling to get into this championship hunt."
Krawiec also wasn't sure he would be able to take part in the inaugural Countdown festivities in his first season.
"Making the first cut in the Countdown in my first season was a major goal of mine going into the season," Krawiec said. "The season started off well (semifinal round appearance at season opener) and then we hit a rough patch for a while and we weren't even in the top 10. The team kept working at it and we've turned it around and hopefully we won't ever turn back.
"To be able to come back the way we have and get into the Countdown the way we have shows what a great team this Screamin' Eagle group really is. We have a lot of positive momentum right now and I think that is going to help is be competitive in the Countdown."
Hines said the crew is the reason Harley-Davidson has two riders in the eight-bike Countdown field.
"This team knows how to come-from-behind and make strong comebacks," Hines said. "We're a championship caliber team and that has shown more this year than any other because we struggled so much at the start but were still able to fight our way back.
"The team has so much experience and they make it easier to get out there and ride the motorcycle."