This season in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series' Pro Stock Motorcycle category, the Harley-Davidsons of Ed Krawiec and Andrew Hines won all but one of the 14 events to date in the category. Going into the final two races at Las Vegas and Pomona, the teammates are separated by just 17 points, with Krawiec holding the slight edge. The two riders, both former PSM champs (Krawiec in 2008 and 2011, Hines with three straight from 2004 to 2006), know that winning a title does not come easy - and that losing a title can be even harder.
"To be honest, the first one was really hard because I did it without even getting a win," said Krawiec in a recent NHRA teleconference. "When I reflect back to that one, I just still shake my head. I still can't believe it. It was a crazy year just by the way everything went. The championship that got away from me in '09 was really the hardest one for me to take, you know, because I had a phenomenal season, nine final rounds in a row, 10 total that year, and man, I was just on a streak. At the end of the day, I lost it to Hector Arana by two points. It stung a little bit. It hurt. And I went out there and did the best I could this last year. I went through a little bit of a riding struggle as I'd like to say, where you start putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. You know, this sport is 90 percent mental. As a driver, you know how to perform, especially as a championship winning driver… You know what you need to do."
Hines reflected on his own championship runs, saying "My past championships are definitely different than this one. You know, in '06 I did battle GT (Tonglet) for the championship, who was my teammate at the time, and the only difference is we both had, I think, two race wins throughout the entire year each. This year with having so many race wins it's a totally different outlook because you're racing against the other best bike…This new Countdown scenario throws a whole different wrench into your plans. I got close to winning the championship in 2007 and 2010. I think I finished both of those seasons less than 10 points out of first place. Those really sting. Those are a few that I'd definitely like to have back. But coming down to these last few races, racing for the championship, it really doesn't get much better than this, because it's all ultimately going to come down to putting another championship under Harley-Davidson's name."
Both riders have had success at the next track on the schedule, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and are looking forward to continuing their title battle there, which will include the "final round" of the PSM event that was postponed due to rain at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. "Going to Vegas this year is definitely high on our list," said Hines, who has three wins at LVMS. "It's something I'm really looking forward to, especially since we get to run the remainder of our Reading national event at that race. We just clarified with Graham Light that we're going to race for the Reading trophy as the fourth qualifier in Las Vegas. I do have a really good track record at that event. I'm not sure why. Vegas was never really my favorite place for the first four or five years of my career. But not long after that I started winning there fairly regularly. It was nice to go back to that event every year, and standing in that Vegas winner's circle and getting to go hang out with the guys at night at casinos and having good meals after the win was something we always looked forward to, and luckily we were able to pull it off a few times."
Krawiec, who won last year's event, said, "It's definitely going to be an interesting weekend. I look forward to it. If we could have really made it to this point being an undefeated team, and it's unfortunate we lost at Dallas, people did say or think that we threw the race, and we said, well, we've won every race up to that point, so why would we throw one now, but for us we're moving into the final two races of the year, and I know Andrew is excited and I know I'm excited. We're looking forward to it. I have a great track record at Pomona, he has a great track record in Vegas. I am thinking these last two races are going to be really interesting, and it would be awesome to be in two more all Harley Davidson finals."
Source: "NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship Teleconference - Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle," NHRA Media, October 17, 2012
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the NHRA at Examiner.com.
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