Five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle (PSM) world champ Andrew Hines has a strong comfort level at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, the site of this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Hines has four wins at the facility, which means it may be the perfect place to grab his first win of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
A victory on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson would be music to Hines’ ears, as the current PSM points leader has been close on multiple occasions this season. His four career wins at Norwalk are also the most at the track for any competitor in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series, and that’s an achievement Hines hopes he can continue to add to this weekend.
“They’ve got a new track surface there and the track has always been good for us,” said Hines, who last won at Norwalk in 2014. “I love the facility and the Bader family are an awesome family. There’s a good fanbase there, big grandstands and a great atmosphere. We’re usually there at a hot time of the year and that seems like where I’ve excelled. Those types of conditions have worked out for me in the past and we’ve always seemed to race well in Norwalk.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including final eliminations coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 24. It is the sixth of 16 events during the 2018 Pro Stock Motorcycle season, which has featured plenty of positives for Hines, who has 48 career victories in the class.
In five races, Hines has three final round appearances and two No. 1 qualifiers, advancing to at least the second round at every event thus far. Hines will take that consistency for the rest of the season, but he also knows he can’t stand pat if he wants that to continue and also grab his first victory of the season against the likes of teammate and defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, Richmond winner L.E. Tonglet, 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie and Chicago winner Matt Smith.
“I feel like we’re racing good and the motorcycle has been good as well,” Hines said. “It’s the best-leaving bike I’ve had in a long time, and it’s been consistent on the starting line. I think you can see that in our performance in qualifying. It’s been significantly better than last year. I really couldn’t ask for more, but the class is so tough it could change at any minute. We’re going to have to be completely focused with not giving up E.T. anywhere.”
As the competitive level in the class continues to reach new heights, it has a veteran like Hines pleased with the current status of Pro Stock Motorcycle. The class also includes standouts like Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana Jr. and three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, making every win a satisfying one. It hasn’t happened yet for Hines in 2018, but he is hopeful his team is on the right track for continued success the rest of the season.
“The entire class has stepped up and you have to be on your game every single time,” Hines said. “If you’re having issues down the track or struggling to find your tuneup, you can be on the outside in a hurry. As the (Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship) gets closer and closer, you have to hone in on what you need. You can’t bring a 90 percent game up to the starting line. You have to have everything working in your favor.”
Steve Torrence has four wins and the Top Fuel points lead, and will look for a second straight Norwalk victory against Bristol winner Tony Schumacher, Brittany Force and Clay Millican.
Jack Beckman aims to try and track down Funny Car points leader Courtney Force, who has four wins in 2018. Other standouts are Bristol winner Ron Capps and defending champ Robert Hight,
Points leader Greg Anderson will try to become the ninth different Pro Stock winner in 2018, joining a list that includes defending world champ Bo Butner, two-time winners Jeg Coughlin Jr., Tanner Gray and Vincent Nobile, as well as Erica Enders, Deric Kramer, Matt Hartford and Chris McGaha.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes its seventh of 12 stops in 2018. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Hanna Motorsports “First Strike” Jet Funny Car driven by Rich Hanna and “Queen of Diamonds” Jet dragster driven by Sarah Edwards. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with pre-run flame shows.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the biggest names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This includes meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals include Shirley Muldowney and Mark Pawak.
As always, fans can 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. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 8:15 p.m. on Friday, June 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 23, at 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 24.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park at (419) 668-5555. Tickets also are available online at www.summitmotorsportspark.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.