Sonoma: Screamin' Eagle Racing preview

HINES AIMS TO HOLD POINTS LEAD FOR SCREAMIN'EAGLE TEAM DURING NHRA EVENT AT INFINEON RACEWAY Hines Ready to Defend 2005 Win, National Record MILWAUKEE (July 24, 2006) -- Andrew Hines knows that it is far too early in the season to get overly...

HINES AIMS TO HOLD POINTS LEAD FOR SCREAMIN'EAGLE TEAM DURING NHRA EVENT AT INFINEON RACEWAY

Hines Ready to Defend 2005 Win, National Record

MILWAUKEE (July 24, 2006) -- Andrew Hines knows that it is far too early in the season to get overly excited about being the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader. The rider of the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod knows there are too many rounds of racing up for grabs for that.

He does, however, have high hopes that his July 16 victory in Denver will be the turning point in the season the Screamin' Eagle group was searching for.

"It feels pretty good knowing that you have a bike that is capable of going rounds and winning races," Hines said. "Now we're going to a race that we did really well at last year and this is chance for us to turn the season around. I'm looking forward to going to Sonoma. It's one of the events I'm always excited about."

Hines and teammate GT Tonglet will join the rest of the NHRA POWERade series this weekend for the 19th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway. The race track is in the middle of Northern California's wine country. Hines, however, will be looking past the vineyards, searching for another trophy.

In 2005 Hines not only scored the event win by beating Karen Stoffer in the final round, but he also set the national elapsed time record. Hines turned in a 6.968-second pass during the first round of eliminations.

"Infineon is one of the best facilities we race at each season," Hines said. "It's a sea-level track and the bikes always respond to the conditions. If the weather is anything like last year, we'll go in looking to produce some quick times. It's one of the few tracks on the schedule that you look at each season knowing that records are possible."

Last year Sonoma was the turning point both Hines and Tonglet was looking for. After Hines scored the win there, Tonglet went on to win the next event (Brainerd, Minn.) and Hines followed that with a victory in Memphis three weeks later.

"That was a great month for the entire team," Tonglet said. "We found our tuneup and the momentum carried over to a few races and we had a great streak where Andrew and I felt extremely confident. That's pretty amazing because the competition is so tough out here that it's difficult to put any kind of a streak together."

With the points lead and one victory in three final rounds so far this season, Hines said the team is the most relaxed its been since they hoisted the series championship trophy in November.

"The team is a lot happier now that we've finally won a race," Hines said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm and we're more confident. We haven't had a bad season, we've just been off a bit and that tends to get everyone down. But we were really consistent on Sunday in Denver and that showed how good this team can be."

With seven events remaining in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Hines has a 28-point lead over second place rider Angelle Sampey and the U.S. Army Suzuki team. Hines said now the team must improve its qualifying efforts in order to have a better shot at winning rounds for the rest of the season. Hines has 18 career No. 1 qualifying awards but has qualified in the No. 2 spot twice while Tonglet has qualified in the top half of the field just once.

"We need to get back on our best game and that includes qualifying better," Hines said. "We've been really good in qualifying the last two seasons but we have not held on to the top qualifying position once this season. We need to qualify higher and get lane choice more often and give ourselves a boost going into eliminations. We know it's possible, so we just have to go out and execute the plan."

Riders will have four chances to qualify for the ninth of 15 national NHRA events, starting with sessions at 3:15 and 6:45 p.m. Friday before wrapping up on Saturday (10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.). Final eliminations will start at noon on Sunday.

-ser

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Karen Stoffer , Andrew Hines , GT Tonglet , Angelle Sampey