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Biker Hines May R and D Himself To Another Title

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 16 2016
Andrew Hines could be headed to a sixth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship the fall. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Andrew Hines could be headed to a sixth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship the fall. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

His NHRA resume reads five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion. But Andrew Hines admittedly operates in a completely different role opposite teammate Eddie Krawiec.

“I’m the guinea pig on the crew,” said Hines, winner of three consecutive PSM titles aboard his nhra logoScreamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. “We always keep Eddie’s bike consistent. We make a lot of changes to the motorcycle for tune-up things and research and development for later in the year. This year everything has worked out in our favor. Years past I’ve been up and down on performance. This year it’s been a lot better.

“Still haven’t had the quickest motorcycle, but found our way to the winners circle on Sundays and Mondays. It was really nice to get the U.S. Nationals win and move into the No. 1 in points.”

Hines will take a 30-point lead over Krawiec into Friday’s opening two rounds of qualifications for the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The event in Concord, N.C., outside Charlotte is the opener of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

The winner of four of the past five national events and five overall this season, Hines simply hopes to keep his two-wheel momentum blasting down the quarter-mile.

“I feel like I’m pretty confident right now,” said Hines, owner of a class-best 47 career wins. “My performance level has been higher this year. I’ve been kind of dialed-in on the reaction times and my riding has been fairly decent. I feel good about this year. I’m getting back into better physical condition than I have been, doing a lot more running, keeping my stamina up, which helps on Sundays when you’re going rounds.”

Jason Line (Pro Stock), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel) are the other No. 1 seeds in their respective categories at the start of the playoffs. Brown, Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also bettered the competition a year ago at a race that will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 for the first time this weekend.

Hines is looking to extend a streak of six straight final-round appearances. His victory at the prestigious U.S. Nats over Labor Day weekend pushed his V-Rod past Krawiec, a three-time world champ, in the standings.

“We take a different approach with my motorcycle,” said Hines, seeded No. 1 for the third time in his career. ”Fortunate enough to have two teams running for Harley-Davidson. We can treat each motorcycle a little differently throughout the weekend. We use one as a barometer to see how we should be running and we can run the other one around outside of our tuning window to find performance here and there. We hone-in on that and figure out what we need to do for Sundays. It’s been working for us.

“Like I said, the season has been going really well. My performance turns around on Sundays typically. You’ve seen that in races here more recently. Maybe I haven’t qualified the greatest but I can pick away at it slowly on Sunday. The more rounds we get, the faster we can be. Quite the adventure we’ve been on here recently. It’s a little frustrating when you’re moving around and trying to learn things throughout the weekend but it all pays off in the end when you can find the performance on Sunday and start going rounds.”

The stout Countdown field includes three-time world champion Angelle Sampey and two-time world champ Matt Smith.

“I think our team’s goal for the Countdown is to just keep doing what we’ve been doing all season,” said Sampey, seeded third and 40 points behind Hines aboard her PSE/Star Racing Buell. “I try not to think about the points too much because if I do, I’ll end up putting too much pressure on myself and I don’t want to let myself down. I’d rather just focus on doing well every run and it’ll end up how it ends up. We’re in championship form with my bike and we’re getting there with (rookie teammate) Cory Reed’s bike.”

Smith begins the playoffs in ninth place, 100 points out of the lead. “That’s very do-able with six races to go,” said Smith, competing aboard a Victory Gunner. “We just have to get hot. It’s time for our Victory Motorcycles to get hot this year, and the Countdown is a good time to do it. We’ve got a good bike. We’ve qualified good all year long. When the bike has been right, we’ve done good. I think we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to go do our job, everybody’s got to perform and the bike has to do its job.”

In addition to Sampey and Smith, the title contenders include 2009 world champion Hector Arana Sr. on his Buell, 2010 world champ LE Tonglet  and Vance & Hines customer Jerry Savoie _ the latter two aboard Suzukis.

“I think everybody’s got their combination dialed-in right now,” said Hines, who has qualified on-pole once this season. ”Obviously the playing field is tough. Most of the field (at the U.S. Nats), like I said, a 10th of a second (separation) from one to 16. If you look from two to 16, this is seven-hundredths. That’s probably the tightest we’ve had in the history of this class. Everybody has brought their best out here for these last few races. You’re going to see more and more of that throughout this Countdown.

“It’s going to be decided on the starting line from here on out. You want to make sure you get that advantage. You don’t want to give up any little bit at the starting line. Makes a difference on the finish line. You’re going to have to be super consistent and you’re probably going to have to go to the semifinals every single race of this Countdown to have a shot come Vegas and Pomona.  We’re ready for the battle and we’re ready for everybody.”

With all due respect to the depth of field, Hines counts Krawiec as the biggest challenge to a sixth championship _ one which would tie him with the late Dave Schultz for most in class history.

“When I started out in this sport 15 years ago it was never on my radar that I could get to this point,” said Hines, a two-time runnerup this season. “It was years and years ago I wanted to retire. I thought I’d done enough for my level of racing. Luckily, it’s turned the corner and everything has come back to me here recently. A couple more championships and a lot more wins the last few years. That kind of smooths over any rough edges I had about it years and years ago.

“Having Eddie as my teammate, it’s probably made it harder on the rest of the class because we try to push each other so much harder because we each want to have the faster bike in the pit area. We work on that every single day here at the shop to make sure our motorcycles are going to be as prepared, as identical as possible. We’re very proud about how consistent they run with each other, while being near the front of the pack.

“We push each other every single day to be better. We keep each other in-check on Sundays and throughout qualifying, making sure we’re making the right calls, analyzing and preparing for each weekend. A lot of our race wins, they happen because of the preparation that happens here at the shop. We may get to the track and look like we’re not working hard. That’s because everything happened here at Vance & Hines.”

Qualifying is scheduled to begin with sessions on Friday at 3:15 and 5:30 p.m. (EDT). Qualifying will continue on Saturday with sessions at 12:45 and 3 p.m. Eliminations are set for Sunday at noon starting with Top Fuel.

Fox Sports 1 will carry one hour of live qualifying Friday at 6 p.m. (EDT), with one hour of qualifying coverage Saturday at 11 a.m. The network will air three hours of live finals coverage Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

TRACK RECORDS

Top Fuel _ 3.713-seconds by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.

Funny Car _ 3.934-seconds by Alexis DeJoria, April ’16; 323.50 mph by Matt Hagan, April ’16.

Pro Stock _ 6.455-seconds by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.794-seconds and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.

NATIONAL RECORDS

Top Fuel _ 3.671-seconds by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.

Funny Car _ 3.832-seconds by Del Worsham, Aug. ’16, Kent, Wash.; 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.

Pro Stock _ 6.455-seconds by Jason Line, March ’15, Concord, N.C.;  215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.728-seconds by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Concord, N.C.

POINT STANDINGS

Top-10 competitors entering the NHRA Carolina Nationals, first event of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Antron Brown, 2,110; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 2,080; 3.  Steve Torrence, 2,070; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 2,060; 5.  Brittany Force, 2,050; 6.  J.R. Todd, 2,040; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 2,030; 8.  Clay Millican, 2,020; 9.  Richie Crampton, 2,010; 10.  Leah Pritchett, 2,000.

Funny Car_ 1.  Ron Capps, 2,110; 2.  Del Worsham, 2,080; 3.  Matt Hagan, 2,070; 4.  Courtney Force, 2,060; 5. Jack Beckman, 2,050; 6.  Robert Hight, 2,040; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,030; 8.  John Force, 2,020; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,010; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,000.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Jason Line, 2,110; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,080; 3.  Bo Butner, 2.070; 4.  Allen Johnson, 2,060; 5. Vincent Nobile, 2,050 6.  Drew Skillman, 2,040; 7.  Chris McGaha, 2,030; 8.  Shane Gray, 2,020; 9. Erica Enders, 2,010; 10.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 2,000.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1.  Andrew Hines, 2,110; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,080; 3.  Angelle Sampey, 2,070; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 2,060; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,050; 6.  Chip Ellis, 2,040; 7.  Hector Arana Jr., 2,030; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,020; 9.  Matt Smith, 2,010; 10.  Cory Reed, 2,000.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 16 2016
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