You only get one chance to make a positive first impression and the Vance & Hines team is keenly aware of that after teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec debued their new Harley-Davidson FXDR models in the best way possible; with an all-Harley final round. Hines continued his record-setting season with his sixth win of the season in eight races, and the 54th of his career. Hines ran nothing but 7.1s on Sunday including a 7.174 in the final to easily cover Kraiewc, who ran an otherwise competitive 7.222. It was the fourth time the teamamtes have races in a final this season and Hines has won all of them.
While much has been made of Steve Torrence’s title defense in Top Fuel and rightfully so, Hines is also in the process of a history-making campaign. Following his latest win, the five-time class champion has a 25-2 record in elimination rounds and he’s only been beaten to the finish line once when he spun the tire in the opening round in Chicago against Andie Rawlings. His other loss came when his bike wouldn’t’ fire in the Las Vegas Four-Wide final.
“It’s great to get a win after we rolled out our new FXDR Harley-Davidsons after so much work over the last three months,” said Hines. “We took time to make sure the fit and quality woudld be what Harley-Davidson expects out of us. They entrusted us to roll out a new model and that shows how strong our bond is and solidifies their commitment to our program and to NHRA. We made a few test hits in Indy and the numbers compared favorably with our Street Rods
“This year has been sort of a flip-flop from last year where Eddie won a lot of races and I was a runner-up. He beat me a lot and now I guess it’s my turn to play catch-up. We took a chance with his bike in the final and said let’s learn something. There is still something holding it back. He’s a great rider and second winningest in this class so I don’t take him lightly. He is not my friend when we pull into the water.
Hines also earned the 500th round win of his career in his crucial semifinal win against low qualifier and reigning world champ Matt Smith. In what may have been the best race of the weekend, Smith grabbed a three-hundredths of a second lead at the start on his Denso EBR but it wasn’t enough after Hines rolled to a 7.183 to 7.238 victory. Hines is now 32-12 against Smith, who is easily the Harley team’s biggest rival.
On Saturday night, Hines believed he had a shot to take the pole from Smith, but his bike spun the tire on the starting line. Starting from the No. 4 spot, Hines was money in eliminations. In addition to his wins against Smith and Krawiec, Hines also beat Cory Reed and Hector Arana Sr. at Bandimere Speedway, his former home track.
“I never imagined this season would be like this, especially since anyone can step up,” said Hines. “Lately, I’ve been in the right place at the right time. Matt Smith slowed against me, and Hector Jr. red-lighted. I’m going to ride the wave. I just hope that when the Countdown comes I’m as strong as I have been this year.”
Krawiec is still looking for his first win of the season, but that’s only because Hines has not yielded an inch in a final round. Like Hines, Krawiec also adjusted quickly to the new FXDR motorcycle with race-day wins against Karen Stoffer, Jerry Savoie, and Hector Arana Jr. In eight races this season, Krawiec has four runner-up finishes and two semifinals, and he’s got a nearly insurmountable grip on the second seed in the points standings.