KRAWIEC ON A ROLL IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE AS FULL THROTTLE SERIES HEADS TO INFINEON RACEWAY SONOMA, Calif. -- Last season Eddie Krawiec showed the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle community that he could win a Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world ...
KRAWIEC ON A ROLL IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE AS FULL THROTTLE SERIES HEADS TO INFINEON RACEWAY
SONOMA, Calif. -- Last season Eddie Krawiec showed the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle community that he could win a Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championship title in an unconventional manner.
This year, he's showing the two-wheel set how to win it in more of a dominating fashion.
Krawiec, the former dragstrip manager at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. turned hotshot Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, emerged from deep in the top 10 last season in the Countdown to 1 to win the Full Throttle Series season crown. He did it without winning a race, leaving fans, drag racing historians and his motorcycle peers scratching their collective heads. How did he do that?
Krawiec, who posted four runner-up finishes in the five-race bike Countdown to 1, was the most consistent competitor on two wheels during the stretch run and for his efforts became only the second competitor in NHRA history to win a season title without winning a single race during the season.
He bettered Rob Bruins' winless Top Fuel championship from 1979 as Krawiec won his championship prior to winning a single race in any season. Bruins won his first national event in 1978, so no NHRA competitor had ever done what Krawiec accomplished.
"You know, for the way that it turned out last year, I was ecstatic," Krawiec said. "I wouldn't change a thing. I think that's something that's going to be etched in the history books for a really long time, and honestly, I don't know if it will ever be broken again."
This season, Krawiec is defending his championship in impressive fashion. He has raced to three victories in six consecutive final rounds on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. With four races left in the Countdown to 10 he holds an 88-point lead over his teammate, three-time world champ Andrew Hines.
Krawiec will try to keep the final round streak going and increase his series lead at the 22nd annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 24-26. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. The race will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.
"I've been in (six) straight final rounds, and there's not many riders that can say that," he said. "I just hope this momentum carries, and I can do it on the second half of the season just like I did last year. Of the last (13) races entered, I've been in (10) finals. So that's a pretty good statistic. I would like to win them all. But it's tough competition out there and I'm just glad to be out here racing with everybody."
Krawiec says the biggest difference in his performance this year has been the feeling that he can compete at this level and win races in addition to championship titles.
"I'm not really doing anything different," Krawiec said. "I'm just riding the bike with confidence. I think it was last year at Norwalk when I turned the corner. I really got my confidence there. Rider confidence is the No. 1 thing in any category. You need to treat every single pass down that quarter mile as your final round task. You want to make it the best run possible."
He says it also helps having a three-time champ for a teammate and another three-time champ as a crew chief (Matt Hines). He says he and Andrew really drive each other to perform at a high level.
"Andrew and I are probably two of the most competitive people out here," Krawiec said. "We compete at everything, even if it is who has the faster lawn mower. It can be anything. We feed off each other. If one of us is having success, it affects the other one. When we are both clicking on all cylinders we can be a dangerous duo."
Several riders have been giving the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines team competition this year, including two-time season winner Craig Treble and veteran rider Hector Arana, who has won a race and also claimed two No. 1 qualifying positions on his Lucas Oil Buell.
A couple of local favorites also will be in the Pro Stock Motorcycle hunt. Defending Infineon winner Guidera, from Folsom, Calif., has claimed a victory this season on his Mohegan Sun/Rocklin Motorsports Buell and is currently seventh in the points order. Rookie Katie Sullivan, from Corning, Calif., made her debut in Atlanta and claimed her first eliminations round win in Chicago when she beat veteran Karen Stoffer in the all-female first round pairing. Sullivan, who is racing a limited schedule this season, is a former NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League competitor.
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown leads the points order with four victories at the wheel of his Matco Tools dragster. With wins the last two weekends at Denver and Seattle, Brown will attempt to become only the seventh pro driver in NHRA history to sweep the Western Swing. "What an awesome wave we've been riding all season long," Brown said. "We just want to keep things going this weekend at Sonoma. Infineon (Raceway) is an awesome track and we hope to go some rounds with the MAR Matco Tools dragster. Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) are doing great calling the shots and we've got a great group of guys. It would be awesome to sweep the swing, but we're just going to take it one round at a time and not look ahead."
Past Infineon Top Fuel winners Larry Dixon and Schumacher have also claimed multiple victories this year and are among the favorites. Cory McClenathan, driver of the FRAM Tough Guard dragster will try to win one for the title sponsor, while Infineon dominator Doug Kalitta -- a five-time winner at the track since 1998 -- will try to claim another trophy in Wine Country.
Ashley Force Hood and Ron Capps have both held the series points lead for most of the season in Funny Car. However, Tony Pedregon is also right there at the top in his Q-Horsepower Chevy Impala. Defending winner Hight hopes to continue his recent momentum and get his season back on track. With seven wins at Infineon, John Force has been the most successful NHRA racer to compete at the track. The 14-time world champ last won here in 2005. Defending world champ Cruz Pedregon, Del Worsham and Tim Wilkerson, who just earned his first win of the season at Seattle, are all past Infineon winners and may factor into the outcome this weekend.
In Pro Stock, 2003 Infineon winner Jeg Coughlin has raced to five victories and holds the series lead in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt. Mike Edwards has been ultra-quick in his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP, collecting seven No. 1 qualifying positions and three victories, including Sunday at Seattle. Others to watch in the 200 mph category include three-time Infineon winner Greg Anderson, Denver winner Allen Johnson and 2000 Infineon winner Kurt Johnson.
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 24 and 11:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 26.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals by calling Infineon Raceway at (800) 870-7223 or via the Internet at www.ticketmaster.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET) on Saturday July 25. On Sunday, July 26, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 9 p.m. (ET).
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in four categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:15 a.m. on July 24. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m. on July 25.