Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec are used to competing against one another for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships, as the Pro Stock Motorcycle teammates have won four of the past five world titles in the class.
They enter this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at historic Auto Club Raceway tied for first place, promising another entertaining duel at the season finale, but Jerry Savoie has his own plans for the weekend. Savoie won in Vegas to pull within three points of the perennial title contenders in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, setting up one of the most dramatic finishes in class history in Pomona.
“We both have the desire to want to win this race, so (Eddie and I are) going to do whatever we can to try and take out the alligator that’s chasing us,” Hines said, referencing Savoie, a Louisiana alligator farmer.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will air for the first time on FOX Sports 1. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the final race of the 2016 season and the three-way duel in Pro Stock Motorcycle is one of the most thrilling storylines of the weekend.
Hines is after his third straight championship and sixth overall, while Krawiec has his sights set on his fourth world title. Savoie, meanwhile, wants to join the championship club for the first time in his career and his Vegas triumph gives him a legitimate shot. He has won twice and advanced to three finals during the Countdown to the Championship on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki, carrying a great deal of momentum into Pomona.
“If you look at the past two races in qualifying and eliminations, we’ve had the top qualifying bike in 15 of those 16 rounds,” said Savoie, who has six career wins. “That says a lot and we’re going into Pomona running really well. That’s pretty stout. Hopefully we can qualify No. 1 every round, get those bonus points and continue to run the best every round. I have a lot of confidence in our team, and we’ll be focused.”
The same goes for the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammates of Krawiec and Hines. Krawiec jumped back into the lead he had for most of the regular season with back-to-back victories in Reading and Dallaswhere he beat Savoie in the final. But Hines, who has five wins in 2016, pulled even in Vegas with a final round showing.
“I think this year Andrew and I have been brought to a better level of riding,” said Krawiec, who has 36 career wins. “Definitely with the level of competition, there’s about eight or ten bikes on any given weekend that could possibly win. It’s definitely good to win on a weekend where you know you pulled it off.”
Krawiec has also thrived in Pomona, advancing to eight straight final rounds at the Auto Club NHRA Finals dating back to 2008. Krawiec has won four of those years and a fifth would cement another world championship. That dominance is impressive and with Savoie also in top form to end the season, Hines is looking forward to seeing what will transpire throughout the weekend in Pomona.
“Everybody puts forth the maximum effort they possibly can to make sure we’re in the position that we are in right now,” said Hines, who has 47 career wins. “If all goes well, hopefully we can bring another championship to Vance & Hines. Hopefully if we can find another one or two hundredths, it’ll get us closer to Jerry.”
Antron Brown clinched his second straight Top Fuel world championship in Vegas and will try to end his banner year with his eighth win in 2016.
Ron Capps, who has five wins and 10 final rounds appearances in 2016, is closing in on his first Funny Car world title. He leads teammate Matt Hagan by 86 points.
Two former Pro Stock champions, Greg Anderson and Jason Line, are in a tight points battle, with Line and his eight wins this season leading Anderson by just 19 points.
The Auto Club NHRA Finals also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying feature two rounds at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, and two final qualifying rounds on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Tickets are available at NHRA.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-884-NHRA. Kids 12 & under can see it all for free with a general admission ticket, while all students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID.
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the final of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. From I-10, go north on Fairplex drive and follow the signs to Auto Club Raceway at the Fairplex.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 10-13
THURSDAY, Nov. 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Nov. 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Nov. 12 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 13 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday Nov. 11, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday Nov. 13, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 13, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS:
Shawn Langdon, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
John Force, FC, 8; Kenny Bernstein, TF-FC, 6; Greg Anderson, PS, 5; Bob Glidden, PS, 5; John Myers, PSM, 5; Warren Johnson, PS, 4; Dave Schultz, PSM, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4.
Top Fuel – 3.700 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Feb. ’14 and 332.34 mph by Langdon, Nov. ’15
Funny Car – 3.884 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’15 and 331.45 by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock – 6.480 sec. by Erica Enders, Nov. ’14 and 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.766 sec. by Andrew Hines, Nov. ’12; 198.29 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Nov. ’12
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
- (tie) Andrew Hines, 2,509; Eddie Krawiec, 2,509; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,506; 4. Angelle Sampey, 2,399; 5. Chip Ellis, 2,359; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,340; 7. Cory Reed, 2,281; 8. Matt Smith, 2,277; 9. Hector Arana, 2,245; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,236.