HINES AND KRAWIEC EVEN MORE MOTIVATED TO MAKE OFFSEASON A SUCCESSFUL LAUNCHING PAD FOR '08 CAMPAIGN
Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Riders Encouraged by 2007 Results
MILWAUKEE (Nov. 16, 2007) -- Maybe losing is just the motivation he needs.
Three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Andrew Hines finished in second place this season and it was the first time he's finished outside the No. 1 position since 2003. He's certain it will keep him motivated throughout the offseason.
"Going through this entire situation, starting the season and being as low as 13th in the points and working our way up only to lose the championship in the final race of the season has given me a taste of defeat I have not had for a while," said Hines, rider of the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Motorsports Harley-Davidson. "It makes me even hungrier to go out and win a fourth championship next year. It would mean so much to me and the team if we can use this season as the learning experience we need to go out there and do our best to compete for the championship again next year."
His Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Motorsports teammate, Eddie Krawiec, shares the sentiment. The team wants to get ready for the 2008 NHRA season opener in March and they couldn't be more anxious to get started on the work.
In his first season as a full-time professional drag racer and his first with the Screamin' Eagle team, Krawiec earned a seventh place finish in the standings.
"I wouldn't change a thing about how the season went," Krawiec said. "It was basically my rookie season as the full-time guy out here and I made some mistakes but I learned a lot from each one and that's how you learn.
"This season will certainly make me a better racer and rider next year. I can't complain about finishing in the top 10 in my first season especially considering how great the level of competition is out here."
Hines had a career-best season in wins (five) and final round appearances (seven). He also earned two No. 1 qualifying awards. He has 13 career victories in 22 final rounds along with 21 top qualifying positions.
"I never expected so many wins to come our way," Hines said. "We went out there and made sure we were prepared for every race and did our best and the wins came. It was great to have career-highs in wins because I always aim to do better than the previous season and we won three races in 2006. The team did a great job making sure the V-Rods were ready to race every round."
It wasn't easy for the Screamin' Eagle squad to even compete for the championship this season. Hines opened the season with two consecutive first round losses and was as low as 13th in the points before the team made the comeback that included a win at the fifth event of the season (Chicago).
"I'm most proud of that comeback," Hines said. "To be able to go into Chicago in ninth place and to earn the No. 1 qualifier and win and leave in fourth place was a great feat in itself. There were many times at the beginning of the season when I wasn't sure if we would be able to make the Countdown cut. We were hurting parts, not getting down the track and in general just not doing well.
"We made a team decision to bury our heads and look for the solutions and all of that hard work paid off."
Krawiec earned two trips to the final round -- Sonoma, Calif., and Brainerd, Minn., -- for the first time in his career.
"The entire Harley-Davidson family is very proud of what the team did this season," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "They struggled so much at the beginning of the season and they did amazing things to be able to win five events and the Ringer's Gloves Pro Bike battle with Andrew and earn two trips to the final round with Eddie.
"The field of riders participating in each NHRA event is very talented and for us to have two riders in the top eight says a lot about the team we have."
Krawiec's performance was just one reason why the team offered him a two-year contract extension.
"Eddie did a great job this season and handled the pressure of a new team and a new job very well," Screamin' Eagle crew chief Matt Hines said. "He's going to help the team in the shop over the offseason and I think it will all make him a better racer next season. We expect that he will be competing for race wins from the start.
"We're lucky to have two talented riders who are so willing to learn from their mistakes and work at being better competitors."
Hines and Krawiec both made the first cut of the Countdown to the Championship points chase. The top eight riders were allowed to move on to Round Two for three events before a second cut was made for the top four riders just prior to the final two races of the season. Hines made the second cut and was the points leader following three of the final four races.
Hines went into the season finale in Pomona, Calif., as the category points leader and three-time defending champion. He was aiming to become the first rider in NHRA history to win four consecutive titles. He lost in the second round and Matt Smith and the Torco Racing Fuels Buell team went around him to win the race and the 2007 championship.
"It was nice to be part of the championship and to be part of the first Countdown to the Championship points chase, but it was such a bittersweet feeling to come up short," Hines said. "We're not the champs anymore and that's heartbreaking.
"The good news is that I learned a lot from the season. This was a completely different level of stress and pressure and I can apply those lessons to next season and take a more confident attitude into the championship hunt in 2008."
Krawiec made the first cut, but was outside of Round Three of the Countdown.
"I couldn't be more excited about how the season went and how lucky I was to be able to ride a motorcycle that was capable of making several six-second passes throughout the year," Krawiec said. "I really am living a dream. My job is riding a motorcycle and I have a great team behind me making sure the bike is always competitive. This was such an incredible year and I can't wait to make next year even better.
"I truly believe that I got better each weekend and never took a step back. I think I made some good progress and I'm just happy I had so many different experiences to grow from."
Krawiec said one of the most important lessons from the season came in the pits -- nowhere near the drag strip.
"I have always known how important teamwork is but I couldn't believe just how vital it is to a race team," Krawiec said. "Everyone has to gel and work together as one unit. As our team got closer, our performance got better. I can't wait for next season."