The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team has won every Pro Stock Motorcycle race in the 2012 regular season. To make it a clean sweep, a perfect 10 for 10, the riders only have one more regular-season race to go before the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship begins.
Defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and his teammate, three-time world champ Andrew Hines, have blitzed the competition this season. Krawiec has won six times, and Hines has claimed three victories. They are 1 and 2 in the points standings and seemingly unstoppable.
Yet, standing in the way of perfection is not one of their competitors. It is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, the world’s most prestigious drag race. Neither rider has won the granddaddy of them all. In fact, the last time a Vance & Hines rider celebrated in the winner’s circle in Indy was 1999, when Andrew’s older brother, Matt Hines, rode to victory on a Suzuki.
“As much as you would like to say Indy is just like every other race, it’s not,” Krawiec said.
As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Indianapolis for the Big Go, Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Krawiec hopes to finally break through for a victory at the sport’s oldest and most tradition-rich event. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD in more than 10 hours of coverage during Labor Day weekend.
“I look forward to this event every year with hopes of winning the Wally,” Krawiec said. “My first career NHRA payday came at Indy in 2008 when I won the Ringers Pro Bike Battle $25,000 bonus check on Saturday, but my Monday fell short. Since then, my Indy luck hasn’t been very good, and our Harley Davidson V-Rods haven’t ever been in the Monday winner’s circle.”
However, if its performance during the regular season doesn’t give the team the confidence it needs to win in Indy, nothing will. The team has maximized its potential in qualifying and during eliminations during the first nine races of the season. The two riders have used their experience and skill to keep their Harley-Davidsons in the winner’s circle all season. In fact, their impressive winning streak dates back to 2011, when they won the final two races of the season.
“We know [the streak] is going to come to an end eventually; who really knows what is going to happen,” Krawiec said. “The key is to have good lights and have good consistent runs. You have to manage the track. But eventually, they are going to get you.”
The riders who have come closest to defeating the Harley-Davidson team are the Lucas Oil Buell team riders and past Indy winners Hector Arana Sr. and Arana Jr. Three other former Indy winners are in the field: two-time winner Steve Johnson, LE Tonglet, and Matt Smith.
Krawiec is embracing the opportunity to keep the streak going and grab a win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
“I feel I perform better under pressure,” Krawiec said. “I haven’t got to that point yet where I feel any unnecessary pressure. It’s inevitable you are going to lose at some point; it’s just a matter of when. But if guys are going to continue to give us win lights by red-lights and making falters and bobbles, then it’s only going to make it easier for us. Our objective from here on out is to make no mistakes.”
The Harley-Davidson team also will receive a lot of support during the weekend because its race shop is based in Brownsburg.
“Our Vance & Hines shop is about two miles away from the track, so we call Indy our home track,” Krawiec said. “The team lives in the area, so we have the support of all our families, fellow employees, fans, and friends out at the track, so that is another reason why the race is important to us.
“Hopefully, we will be able to look back after this Indy and say 2012 was the Indy to remember.”
• SCHEDULE: The first of five qualifying sessions is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31. Two sessions will be held on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 2:30 and 6 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 3.
• TICKETS: For tickets for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to www.NHRATix.com.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. Three hours of qualifying coverage and coverage of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 2. Two additional hours of qualifying coverage and Traxxas Shootout highlights will also air on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 5 p.m. ET. Eliminations for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus will be featured during six hours of coverage on Monday, Sept. 3, starting at noon ET.
• LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus also will feature competition in all categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where some of the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, and eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30, and continue through Monday, Sept. 3.
• NHRA PRO MOD SERIES presented by ProCare Rx: NHRA’s popular Pro Mod touring series will make its seventh start of the 10-race 2012 season at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. The series features some of the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, with an eclectic mix of vintage and late-model body styles, in quarter-mile competition. The first qualifying session will be Friday, Aug. 31, at 4:30 p.m. Qualifying will continue on Saturday, Sept. 1, with sessions at 2 and 5:30 p.m. The final qualifying session will be Sunday, Sept. 2, at 2 p.m., followed by the first round of eliminations at 5 p.m. Eliminations will continue on Monday, Sept. 3, at approximately 2:30 p.m.