Dashing debut for the Harley-Davidson FXDR after Andrew Hines grabs Friday qualifying lead in Denver
In his first full run on the new Harley-Davidson FXDR, Andrew Hines rode to the provisional pole on Friday at the Dodge Mile-High Nationals presented by Pennzoil. Hines, along with teammates Eddie Krawiec and Angelle Sampey, officially unveiled the swoopy new FXDR bodies on the starting line before Friday’s opening session. Although he’d barely made one half-pass during testing, Hines quickly assumed the top spot with a 7.232 at 186.20 mph, the quickest and fastest run of the session. A couple hours later in Q2, Hines solidified his spot with a slightly slower, but no less impressive 7.237. Hines earned five qualifying bonus points on the day and heads into Saturday as the class leader
"With our new Harley-Davidson FXDR we had good expectations based on all the testing we did at Indy," Hines said. "I made a half-track run on Eddie’s bike, and it was a bad run but we could see potential to be low for that session was fantastic. A lot of hard work went into getting these bikes to this point.
“I love coming here to Bandimere Speedway. It’s like coming home," Hines said. "I made my debut here in 2002 and every time I come to this track, I have great memories. [Track owner] John Bandimere comes up and welcomes me. It goes back to when my dad and brother raced here. We’ve also run well up here and won multiple times on the mountain. It was a little nerve wracking to bring a new body here. I’ve had a different level of stress than I’m used to but so far it’s working out. If we see the 80-degree temperatures we’re expecting tomorrow that will be a game changer. We’d love to beat the [7.111] track record or maybe even see the first 190-mph run up here.”
Not much has gone wrong for Hines this season. The five-time NHRA Mello Yello champion enters the Denver event as the runaway point leader after winning five of the first seven races, and his 21-2 win-loss record is the best of any Mello Yello series pro. Hines’ only losses came when his bike wouldn’t start in the final of the Las Vegas Four-Wide and the second came in Chicago when he spun the tires in the first round against Andie Rawlings. Hines is partial to Bandimere Speedway after spending much of his youth as a resident of Pueblo, Colo. His 53-career wins include four in Denver including the 2016 racer where he defeated Krawiec in the final round.
Hines held on to the top spot, but just barely. In Q2, Hector Arana Sr. mounted a challenge with a matching 7.232 but his speed was slightly slower than Hines. The Arana family has traditionally run well in Denver with their matching Lucas Oil EBR entries. Should Hector Sr. hold on to the No. 2 spot, or improve to No. 1, it will mark his best qualifying performance of the year. Hector Arana Jr., the defending event champion, was also in the 7.2s on both runs with a 7.285 followed by an improved 7.240. Arana Jr. is also the Bandimere Speedway track record holder for speed with a 188.86 mph run and he has six of the top ten speeds recorded in Denver.
The combination of oppressive 95-degree heat and Bandimere Speedway’s 5,800 feet of altitude made life tough on crew chiefs but Tim Kulungian, the tuner of Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Suzuki, wasn’t the least bit intimidated. Although he skipped the three most-recent Pro Stock Motorcycle races in Richmond, Chicago, and Norwalk, Savoie showed no signs of rust as he rode to the second-quickest pass of the opening round with a 7.265. Savoie slowed in Q2, but stayed in the top half of the field.
The rest of the top qualifiers on Friday include reigning word champion Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, Angelle Sampey, and Angie Smith, who did not make the second run after experiencing a mechanical issue on her first run.