With one event left in the season, Screamin’ EagleR/Vance & Hines rider Andrew Hines holds a 34-point lead in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Hines, who races a Harley-DavidsonR V-RodR, advanced to the semi-final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals on the Motor Speedway. This weekend’s event was won by Nitrofish Suzuki rider LE Tonglet, who is in second place in the Countdown standings.
Hines qualified his V-Rod seventh for the event, two spots ahead of Tonglet, and started out Sunday eliminations with a win over Pistonater Suzuki rider Craig Treble. Hines got a win in round two against his teammate, Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines rider Ed Krawiec, who fouled at the starting line. In the semi-final, Hines lost a close race to Al-Anabi Racing Buell rider Matt Smith. Hines led at the light with a 0.039-second reaction time to Smith’s 0.041, but Smith took the lead in the first 60 feet and used a 7.037-second elapsed time to just beat Hines, who ran 7.041. It was the first time in seven events that Hines has not appeared in the final round of eliminations.
“We bogged at the line in the semi-finals against Matt,” said Hines, “but it was so close at the end I thought I caught him. I was looking for the win light in my lane but he got me by maybe an inch. Another five feet of track and I would have passed him.”
Smith lost to Tonglet in the final round. Tonglet has appeared in each of five final rounds in the Countdown playoffs, winning four times. He trails Hines, who was the top seed at the start of the Countdown, by less than two rounds worth of points heading into the season finale in Pomona, Calif.
“This is not how we wanted the weekend to go,” said Hines, a three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion. “We wanted to leave Las Vegas with an 80-point lead. We are going home to Indianapolis, and the bikes are going straight to California, so we’ll be racing at Pomona with the equipment that’s on the truck. We’ve still got a few things we have not tried, but it’s going to go down to the wire.”
Krawiec raced a strong V-Rod all weekend in Las Vegas, qualifying with a 6.911-second pass that was second only to the 6.909 track record set by Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana. On Sunday, Krawiec defeated Rockline Motorsports Buell rider Matt Guidera in round one before fouling against Hines in the second round. It was the first red-light foul for Krawiec in more than two seasons of NHRA racing.
“My last red light was at Charlotte in 2008,” said Krawiec. “That’s quite a streak. I had a great motorcycle this weekend and I think we ran in the sixes every run except one. Now the entire team is focused on bringing home the championship in Pomona. We’ve got good equipment. We just need to work on a race-day set-up.”
After five of six rounds in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown, Hines leads the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with 2,640 points. Tonglet is second with 2,606 points. Smith moves up to third place with 2417 points, followed by Krawiec with 2413 points.
The NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship will be decided at the final event of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship schedule, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 11-14, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.