St Louis Pro Stock Motorcycle Preview

HINES LOOKING TO BEGIN SUMMERTIME HOT STREAK WITH WIN IN ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. -- Like mad scientists, Matt Hines and his crew chief father Byron, hope a recent late night experiment will bring new life to their NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle...

HINES LOOKING TO BEGIN SUMMERTIME HOT STREAK WITH WIN IN ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. -- Like mad scientists, Matt Hines and his crew chief father Byron, hope a recent late night experiment will bring new life to their NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team. After hours of hard work they hope to uncover the project and shout 'It's Alive... It's Alive!" The team which dominated the two-wheel category with back-to-back Winston championships during the last two seasons has found the going rough in 1999. Their slow start has been triggered by the endless search for the right combination for their new Eagle One Suzuki. The problem has forced the duo to spend many late nights in the shop, trying to piece the puzzle together. Their progress has also been slowed by the emergence of Team Winston's Angelle Seeling, who has been the rider to beat with three victories and a string of No. 1 qualifying efforts. Hines hopes to officially end his struggles at the third annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, at Gateway International Raceway. The Trinidad, Colo. rider is the defending bike winner at the $1.6 million race, the seventh of 14 events for Pro Stock Motorcycles in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "(Angelle's) been dominating this season and we've been way off track," Hines said. "We've struggled with getting our new bike tuned-up during the first several races of the season. We've had some problems with our clutch and wheelie-bar tuneup. We've had problems getting off the starting line because we've been bogging down. We decided to build a new bike for this season and the frame is a lot stronger than the bike we used last year. It's a better bike overall, we just have to get it dialed in. There's a lot more left in the bike, we just have to find it. Once we get it fine-tuned we'll be tough." After opening the season with a pair of semi-final finishes, Hines claimed a runner-up finish to Seeling at Atlanta before posting a first round loss at Englishtown, N.J. He rebounded to win in Chicago and was a semi-finalist during his most recent event in Columbus, Ohio. He definitely sees some progress for the new bike and is eagerly awaiting the part of the schedule that takes place in the heat of summer. He feels during that time he will make up ground. Last season he earned six straight victories from May to September. "I think we're back," Hines said. "We're going into the hot part of race season and that's what we want. The bike has been really smooth off the starting line and that's what we need." Despite the slow start, Hines isn't worried about his chances for a third Winston championship. Following his effort at Columbus, Hines is 122 points behind first place rider Seeling in the Winston point standings. He figures with eight races to go, there's still plenty of time left to make a charge. "It took us a few races to get our 1997 bike to win a race but once we did we got on a hot streak," Hines said. 'My blood pressure might have been going up quite a bit the last few weeks while we were struggling. Everyone keeps asking, 'When are you going to get back in the winner's circle?' That puts more pressure on you. If they wouldn't have said anything at all it would have been better. I'm trying to get a win every time -- it's not like I'm trying just part of the time. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. I've got my head straight and my lights have been more consistent. We'll be fine." * Where's the Finals: Steve Johnson, from Birmingham, Ala., joked that he needed directions to find his way to the starting line for his final round match with Hines at the FRAM Route 66 Nationals in Chicago. "I was asking Matt if he had a road map we could use to find our way there because we didn't want to get lost," said the outspoken Johnson with a laugh, who last made a final round appearance at the 1995 Winston Finals. "Heck, it had been a long time between visits for us. Now that we know the way a little better, we want to make sure we get back there more often in the future."

SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION * Schedule: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. (CT) on June 24 and June 25. Final professional eliminations start at 4 p.m. June 26. Qualifying and eliminations for Federal-Mogul categories begins June 24 at 9 a.m. * Tickets: Tickets are available for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Call (618) 482-2400 or Ticketmaster for ticket information. * On TV: ABC will televise one hour of race highlights on July 4 at 1 p.m. (ET).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Steve Johnson