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Biker Hines Elbowing His Way To Better Runs

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 16 2017

Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines has made some tunnel-induced changes to his riding style. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Wind tunnels have been used for decades to perfect the aerodynamics of race cars, but NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Andrew Hines noted that in his class his body provides the aero package.

“We’re going down the track and we’re trying to do everything we can to stay tucked in,” Hines said during preparations for Sunday’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. “With me being of a bigger build; I’m four, five inches taller than Eddie (Krawiec), 10 pounds heavier, my arms and legs are longer, I hang out in the breeze a little bit different. We figured out in the wind tunnel earlier this year that was a major disadvantage for me.

“Since he (Krawiec) is a smaller build he’s actually more aerodynamic, so I’ve had to adjust my riding earlier in the run to try and achieve the same half-track speeds as him. For some reason, it didn’t have much of an affect from half-track to the finish line.”

Hines said he probably could lose some weight, but he couldn’t shorten his arms or legs, which provide a tremendous amount of aero drag.

“We went to the wind tunnel before we came here in the spring for Four Wide and I learned a few things,” Hines said. “I have implemented that throughout the year, so it’s been better for me as far as my elbow position.”

That was evident in qualifying for the first event in the Countdown to the Championship. The Harley-Davidson rider, who enters the title run sixth in the point standings, was the No. 1 qualifier with an E.T. of 6.825 seconds. He also owned the top speed with 196.76 mph.  

This is Hines’10th playoff appearance.

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Alexis DeJoria missed the Countdown to the Championship by 15 points, leaving Courtney Force the only woman to battle for the NHRA Funny Car battle. It’s a situation that has left Force a “little bummed out.”

“I’m very close with Alexis,” Force said. “We were talking to each other at Indy and I was fighting hard to get that first round win against Cruz (Pedregon) to give her a little bit better opportunity.

“It’s a lot of fun having another female competing for the championship because we’re usually texting each other between races, cheering each other on and supporting each other. It will be a little bit different not having her go for the championship, too … but she is definitely one that will be playing spoiler (for those teams in the Countdown).”

Force was the No. 1 qualifier for the second time this year at zMAX and the seventh time this season, while DeJoria qualified fifth.

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Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force revealed at zMAX Dragway prior to the Carolina Nationals that his nicknames as a child were “Dog Head” and “Scatter Brain.”

“I’ve always lived with a million things in my head,” said Force, who qualified ninth for Sunday’s opening round in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. “Go see the movie the ‘Glass Castle’. That’s where I came from, except my dad wasn’t a genius. The point is I’ve always lived with my head full of everything, but you have to find the music on race day.”

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NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki always carried a comb in his race car so after removing his helmet he could use it before climbing from his car. NHRA Pro Stock rookie sensation Tanner Gray and his team have taken his desire to always look good a little further. Adorning the side of his Chevrolet Camaro are the words “Pretty Ricky.”

“That’s just kind of a joke that we’ve had around the shop for me for a couple years now,” the 19-year-old Gray said. “I’ve always cared about what I looked like when I go out, so everybody’s made fun of me and called me pretty boy and stuff like that. The back half guy on our car actually came up with it. I don’t know if you know the R&B song, the guy talks about Pretty Ricky and stuff like that.

“That’s kind of where it came from and then when I decided to bring out the all-white suit that kind of played along with it. It’s just something that’s fun and kind of an inside joke.”

A third-generation driver, Gray enters the Countdown to the Championship second in the standings, 20 points behind leader Bo Butner.  He currently is focused solely on the title battle that kicks off this weekend in the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, but he notes he does have a few thoughts about college,   

“Eventually, I might like to take some college courses and get my business degree, or something like that, in case this doesn’t work out I will always have something to fall back on and go work in a regular business; a backup plan,” said Gray, who was Pro Stock’s No. 1 qualifier for the fourth time this season with an E.T. of 6.559 seconds.  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 16 2017
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