HINES SEEKING FIRST MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS WIN; MOMENTUM TO PUSH HIM TO FOURTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN CLERMONT, Ind. - A late surge in the regular season has put Andrew Hines back in his comfort zone as the three-time NHRA Pro Stock ...
HINES SEEKING FIRST MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS WIN; MOMENTUM TO PUSH HIM TO FOURTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN
CLERMONT, Ind. - A late surge in the regular season has put Andrew Hines back in his comfort zone as the three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ begins his quest to add title number four to his racing resume.
Hines, who dominated the two-wheel category from 2004-'06 on his ultra-quick Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson by earning a championship three-peat, is hungry once again to regain his claim to the top spot in motorcycle drag racing.
He enters the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, Sept. 1-6, as the top seed in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category and now his focus will be centered on increasing his playoff lead when the tour leaves O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis following the world's most prestigious drag race. The tradition-rich event, the first of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, will be showcased during more than 10 hours of coverage on ESPN2 HD.
"I've never been No. 1 going into the playoffs, so it's nice to be in this position," said Hines, who has won four races this season and earned one top qualifying position. "Three or four races ago, we were looking at the points, and Hector (Arana, defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner) had something like a 160-point lead, and we just wrote it off that we wouldn't make it there. Luck turned to our side, the motorcycle started performing better, and Hector faltered a little bit, and we capitalized on it."
Hines' only final round appearance at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in eight seasons of racing came as a runner-up finisher in 2008. He would like to add his name to the distinguished list of motorcycle winners at the Big Go, which includes his older brother Matt, a two-time winner.
"Winning Indy has eluded me in my career, and it is somewhat frustrating," Hines said. "In years past we have run well, but not good enough. We have struggled, and have had just plain bad luck. We have a history of winning (bonus events) there, just not the Wally."
Hines will need to focus just a little more, given the larger winner's purse, more attention from the media and the knowledge that every one of his competitors will bring their A-game to the track over the weekend. A heavy list of talented riders, like defending winner Arana, three-time season winner Michael Phillips and two-time U.S. Nationals winner Steve Johnson are among the pre-race favorites.
"The U.S. Nationals is a very prestigious race, with history that goes way back in all of the categories," Hines said. "To be racing a Harley-Davidson V-Rod at that event with the top riders in the world is still amazing to me. I remember growing up and hearing who won the event and thinking that someday I would just like to go to 'Indy', now I get to race there."
With finishes of third, fourth and second, respectively, in the first three seasons of NHRA's Countdown to the Championship format, Hines is ready to prove he can win a championship title playoff-style as well.
"I feel very confident with my chances in the Countdown this year," Hines said. "I have never been the number one seed, so I have always been chasing. Now being the leader, I get a few bonus points to work with, and I have a really powerful Harley-Davidson V-Rod to ride, and that can make all the difference. My riding has been at its best lately, I feel I am a better racer than when I won my championships from 2004-2006. I am looking forward to playing with the best racers in the country over the next three months, anything can happen with the great racing that has happened this year. I think the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series fans are going to be thrilled with the tight racing and excitement during these last few races."