After clinching his spot in the field for Sunday’s final eliminations, Eddie Krawiec has officially locked up his fourth NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship. Krawiec entered the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals with a 150-point lead over former champ LE Tonglet and after four rounds of qualifying, he’s extended it to 156 points, to officially clinch the title. Krawiec previously won titles in 2008, 2011-12.
“I’ll tell you I attribute this to teamwork and a lot of great guys who make this bike go down the track as fast as it does,” said Krawiec. “I couldn’t do it without my team. I’ve got [crew chief] Matt Hines over there, smiling away. Andrew [Hines, teammate] is smiling away. And, what makes this really special is having my family here. It is awesome to get this done in qualifying. I’m usually grumpy as hell on Saturday and my wife doesn’t like it. This goes out to my whole team.”
Krawiec’s success comes in a transition year for the factory Harley-Davidson team after they made a mid-season switch from their V-Rod bikes to the new Street Rod model. The new bikes were introduced at the Englishtown race in June and the team struggled to make them competitive. Prior to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the team made another bold move when they adapted the new Street Rod body to their old V-Rod chassis. Since then, Krawiec has won five of six races with a 22-1 record. During the Countdown, he has dominated with wins in Charlotte, Reading, Dallas, and Las Vegas. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect Countdown is a round-two loss in St. Louis to rival LE Tonglet.
Since joining the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team in 2008, Krawiec has been remarkably consistent. In the last ten years, he has not finished lower than third in the standings and he’s ridden to 43 career victories, third-most behind teammate Andrew Hines (47) and the late Dave Schultz (45). This year, Krawiec has been especially strong with seven national event wins in eight finals. He’s also been the No. 1 qualifier at five races and entered the Pomona race with a 38-8 record in elimination rounds. As a whole, the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team has now won nine world titles with Andrew Hines adding five championships to Krawiec’s four.
“The interesting part is that we debuted a new Street Rod at Englishtown," said Krawiec. "I won the first race and went to the final of the second and then we went to the new bike and we went backwards. We stuck with it longer than most people would have but we believed what we had was better. We stuck with it. Leaving Brainerd, we went to plan B, and brought out our old bikes with new bodywork. At Indy we showed up untested. Andrew and I were the top two qualifiers, and we looked at each other and knew we had bikes that could win right there and then. That gave me that extra push. I knew then I had a motorcycle under me that could win a championship if I did my job. There are a lot of great motorcycles in this category right now. This is the best racing there has ever been. I had luck when needed it and was good when I needed to be.
For me, this has been most rewarding championship that I’ve earned,” Krawiec said. “This one was done in a different way. Having the tuner. We changed the way we do things internally. Basically, between Matt, Andrew and I we took our three heads and look at it collectively. Drew does the engine, Matt does the chassis and I bounce between the two. We can each say we agree or don’t agree but the confidence level is that much higher. It’s fun and rewarding.
“Each championship is special in their own right. My, first championship was a unique one. I won nothing. I never got to hold up a Wally but at the end of the year I got this massive championship trophy. In 2011 and 2012 we dominated. This one is more humbling. Five years later I can say I appreciate this one a lot more. You never know when next will be so cherish ones you do get.”