Norwalk: Vance & Hines final report

HINES WINS AGAIN AS SCREAMIN' EAGLE RIDER MAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE FINAL ROUND APPEARANCE Hines Wins Inaugural NHRA Event in Norwalk NORWALK, Ohio (July 1, 2007) -- Andrew Hines had one wish going into the weekend's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA...

HINES WINS AGAIN AS SCREAMIN' EAGLE RIDER MAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE FINAL ROUND APPEARANCE
Hines Wins Inaugural NHRA Event in Norwalk

NORWALK, Ohio (July 1, 2007) -- Andrew Hines had one wish going into the weekend's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. He wanted to win the event -- the inaugural event, no less, at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

His wish came true on Sunday.

Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod to his third consecutive final round appearance, winning for the second time.

"It was such a great first weekend in Norwalk," Hines, 24, said. "I can't believe I got my wish to be the first person to win this race. We rarely get the opportunity to win an inaugural event and to actually do it here is tremendous.

"My brother (Matt Hines) won the inaugural event in Chicago (Route 66 Raceway in 1998) and I thought that was a great feat. To be able to do the same thing with him tuning the bike is even better."

The current three-time defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle champion said the best part about racing at a new track was the fan support.

"It was such a great weekend because of the fans and the support," Hines said. "It's always exciting going to a new track but to come out here, with all of the fans rooting us on, made the weekend even better. We signed a ton of autographs and it was obvious that there is a huge Harley-Davidson following here."

Hines beat Matt Smith and the Torco Racing Fuels Buell team in the final round for the second time this season. Hines bested Smith in the final at Route 66 Raceway just a few weeks ago.

Hines recorded a 6.998-second pass at 190. 46 mph top beat Smith's 10.961 at 70.13.

"I have to admit that I wasn't all that confident going into the final because Matt has been really fast and he's the points leader because he's so consistent," Hines said. "Hopefully we can catch up to him in points. If we keep running the way we have been lately, I think it's possible. But Matt Smith is a tough customer. He's been on his game all season long and it was great that my team was able to give me the bike that could beat him."

Hines qualified in the No. 3 position with a 6.995 at 191.46. Smith was the top qualifier of the weekend with a track record E.T. of 6.965 at 189.60. Hines beat Paul Gast and the Fast By Gast Suzuki team in the opening round (6.998 at 189.87 to a 15.881 at 38.92) before beating Steve Johnson and the Snap-on Tools Suzuki team in the second round (6.978 at 191.08 to a 7.051 at 188.81). Hines beat Chip Ellis and the Drag Specialties S&S Buell team (6.985 at 190.06 to red light foul) in the semifinals.

Hines' Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec is the new guy on the team but he wasn't new to racing in Norwalk. The New Jersey resident spent many days racing on the Norwalk track during his AMA Prostar days.

Krawiec qualified in the No. 10 position with a 7.036 pass at 190.30 before earning his first second round finish of the season. It was the first time Krawiec has moved past the first round since the season opener in Gainesville, Fla., in March.

Krawiec beat Karen Stoffer and the Geico Suzuki team in the first round with a 7.036 at 188.70, topping Stoffer's 7.053 at 184.07. He lost to Ellis in the second round. Krawiec's 7.037 at 189.73 came up short to Ellis' 7.012 at 189.31.

"I thought the race went very well," Krawiec said. "The fan vibe there was amazing and we signed more posters than any other race. It was awesome. And I finally broke my first round losing streak and that gives me confidence going into the rest of the season.

"I changed some things this weekend that really helped me. I'm more comfortable on the bike than I have been since I've joined the team and that made all the difference. I was really disappointed with the second round loss because I thought we could beat him. I still feel like this race is going to end up being the turning point in the season."

Bill Bader opened the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in 1963 and it has become one of the premier drag racing facilities in the country. When NHRA and Bader announced plans to bring an NHRA national event to Norwalk, they also announced a $4 million facilities improvement plan.

Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said the track was just one of many great aspects about the weekend.

"I can't think of a better ending than to have Andrew win the inaugural event at a beautiful facility that is new to the NHRA tour," Paluso said. "The entire Vance & Hines team has been working so hard to become more consistent and the testing and the work has paid off in the form of three consecutive final rounds."

The team has just one weekend off before starting another stretch of racing. Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will race at four events in five weekends from the Denver race (July 13-15) to the Reading, Pa., event (Aug. 16-19).

"We just had a stretch of events and the team has to prepare for another set of races and hopefully the momentum will carry over," Paluso said. "Their performance this weekend just proves what a great team the Vance & Hines squad has and how they are capable of finding new ways to compete."

Hines started the season with two consecutive first round losses, followed by two consecutive second round losses. Hines said the team had to dig deep to be able to compete with the top echelon in Pro Stock Motorcycle racing and move from 13th place to third place in such a short amount of time.

"Our team is starting to figure it all out and I think we've finally gotten over that hump," Hines said. "The competition was real tight all weekend and the Screamin' Eagle V-Rod was so fun to ride every pass. It left straight and it ran hard and that was the key to winning rounds.

"We've been aiming for a more consistent bike and I think we did that this weekend. We made small changes and we were able to win the Full Throttle Award because we were the most consistent team in qualifying."

Hines won the race and Krawiec was the quickest on the starting line -- Krawiec's first round .012 was the best in the category -- and now the team can move on to the next event with positive momentum. Hines moved into third place in the POWERade standings, just 108 points out of first place. Krawiec moved up to 11th place.

"I think we had a good weekend overall and I can't wait to get to Denver," Krawiec said. "We had great passes that were consistent and I think we're going to see more of the same in Denver."

The next NHRA POWERade event featuring the Pro Stock Motorcycle category is the 28th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, July 13-15.

-credit: v&h/se

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Karen Stoffer , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , Steve Johnson , Chip Ellis , Paul Gast , Eddie Krawiec