Points leader Krawiec has home-court advantage in return to Raceway Park
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
by Kelly Wade
Reigning NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec was born just north of Englishtown and moved to Old Bridge Township when he was 2 years old. Krawiec, who campaigns one of two Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidsons, returns to the historic dragstrip affectionately coined “Raceway Park” for the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals May 31-June 3, and he will do so with a confident step onto familiar turf after a very successful beginning to the year that has him leading the points.
“I have an awesome motorcycle right now,” said Krawiec, who has collected two wins in three events contested so far this year; the only other victory was awarded to Vance & Hines H-D teammate Andrew Hines, second in the standings. Krawiec qualified No. 1 at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com in Gainesville and third and second, respectively, at the following two events, and Hines has qualified in the top five at all three.
“We have a really solid tune-up in areas where we struggled in the past, specifically in the heat, where our bikes used to fall off in performance,” Krawiec continued. “But we accidentally came onto something last year and learned some pretty valuable data, and it’s starting to show in our hot-weather tune-up. That is really going to complete our package.
“We always ran well the beginning and end of the year, but we struggled in the middle, and now we’ve really started to figure out what we needed to do. That gives me all the confidence going into these next few races, and I’m actually pretty excited because this is the first year that we didn’t start to fall off when it got hot. If we are able to maintain and keep momentum, we should be able to continue to excel.”
In addition to his enthusiasm regarding the positive changes in the team’s combination for the summer months, Krawiec is looking forward to the warm welcome that he usually receives as he returns to the facility where he has made what he believes could be thousands of runs down the racetrack. He began working at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park as a young man and worked his way up to track manager before he was chosen to ride the second Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in Pro Stock Motorcycle competition.
Eddie Krawiec has scored twice in three events in 2012, most recently in Atlanta.
The former AMA Prostar rider earned his first victory aboard a motorcycle there, and as an NHRA driver on two wheels, Krawiec was the No. 1 qualifier in Englishtown last season and runner-up at the event in 2009 by just .005-second to event titlist Craig Treble.
“I’d hate to say that we are going for anything less than a win and a runner-up this year,” said Krawiec. “We know we have the motorcycles to do it. With Andrew, we have been struggling lately setup-wise but think we’ve figured out the direction we need to go. As riders, we are both at the point where we need to hone and sharpen our skills; we need to ride and race really well. We’ve been focusing on trying to be great race-day drivers, and it shows, and it has been really exciting.”
The Harley-Davidsons have been on a powerful journey in recent times, and reaching three collective winner’s circles in three events this year is only continuing a trail that was already ablaze as the 2011 season wound down, with Krawiec and Hines trading victories. Krawiec was a finalist at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix last fall, beat Hines at the next event in Las Vegas, and was runner-up to his teammate at the season-closing Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. It isn’t far-fetched to imagine the forward thrust resulting in another victory for the riders who have made it six final rounds in a row for the Vance & Hines team.
“[Raceway Park] is where I learned everything. My comfort level there is probably the highest out of everywhere we race,” said Krawiec. “I want to win every race I go to, but man, I would love to win that one. It’s one of my goals – there are two major races that I really want to win: Indy [the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals] and Englishtown. Hopefully, 2012 is my year.”
Tickets for the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals are available by calling NHRA at (800) 884-6472, or visit NHRATIX.com.