Atlanta: Hines looks for fourth

COMMERCE, Ga. - Regardless of what happens in the career of Matt Hines, he will go down as one of the greatest Pro Stock Motorcycle riders in NHRA history. His 27 career victories, place him fourth on the all-time Pro Stock Motorcycle win list....

COMMERCE, Ga. - Regardless of what happens in the career of Matt Hines, he will go down as one of the greatest Pro Stock Motorcycle riders in NHRA history.

His 27 career victories, place him fourth on the all-time Pro Stock Motorcycle win list. At the age of 25 he became the youngest professional Winston champion in NHRA history and became the first rider to win three straight NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle championships (1997-99).

Not bad for someone who had to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Terry Vance and his father Byron Hines, who together formed Vance & Hines Motorcycle Enterprises. Vance & Hines are responsible for the majority of the engines competing in the NHRA's two-wheel category.

The younger Hines will be looking to extend his current lead over all competitors atop his Eagle One Suzuki and continue the march towards his fourth Winston title when he competes in the 21st annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, May 3-6, at Atlanta Dragway. The $2 million race is the seventh of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Hines has developed quite a rivalry with Angelle Savoie, who captured the 2000 Winston championship and denied Hines his fourth straight series title. Already this year, Savoie defeated Hines in the final round of the Houston event, then Hines earned a measure of revenge by knocking Savoie out in the semifinals of the Florida race en route to victory and the points lead.

"Taking over the points is a big deal," said the 28-year old Hines. "It's definitely good to get off to a good start because, let's say, if Angelle or Antron (Brown) start winning a bunch of races, there will be a lot of ground to cover to catch up. When you're in that position, you're behind the eight ball. There's only 20 points per round and it's tough to gain a lot of points back in drag racing."

Hines had a disappointing 2000 season by his standards as he finished second in the standings, his lowest finishing position since he was third in 1996, his rookie year.

"We got off to a little bit of a slow start last year and the whole team started to get stressed out," said Hines "When you're in the points lead, it definitely intimidates the competitors. We know how that feels and how that works because we've won three championships. Right now, the Vance and Hines Eagle One Suzuki is dialed in and we're focused on getting our next win." Winning three Winston championships, and nearly a fourth, has given the Trinidad, Colo., resident plenty of experience to embark on his fifth year as a professional competitor.

"One thing I've learned is the whole team has to work together," said Hines. "There's no single person that should get any special treatment. We all have to work as a team and function 100-percent together to make sure everything goes smooth. You have to be dialed in and looking forward and thinking about what you're going to do at the next race and how you're going to accomplish that. We haven't completely gotten 100 percent yet out of our Eagle One Suzuki."

If Hines and the Eagle One Suzuki achieves their maximum potential, the 2001 Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle championship could be decided rather quickly.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines