Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson rider Eddie Krawiec is off to a strong start this year with two runner-up finishes and two semifinals in six races, but oddly enough, the four-time world champ is still in search of his first win. Krawiec reached final rounds in Gainesville and Richmond, and both times he was turned away by his Vance & Hines teammate, Andrew Hines. Krawiec rarely goes this deep into a season without a win so it’s understandable that he’s getting antsy for a victory.
After a strong qualifying performance in Norwalk, where he led the field for the third time this year and 46th time in his career, Krawiec figures this is as good a time as any to end his min-drought that extends back to the Brainerd race last August, a span of 13 races. Krawiec backed up his class leading 6.844 from Friday with a 6.843 on Saturday afternoon. He was able to fend off a strong challenge from reigning champ Matt Smith, who rode his Denso EBR to a 6.848 on Q4, his best run of the weekend. Smith has also bashed the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park track speed record several times with a 198.90 best.
Current points leader Andrew Hines finished qualifying with a best of 6.852 and landed in the No. 3 spot with his Screamin’ Eagle Harley. In 12 years of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing in Norwalk, Hines has four wins, more than anyone else, while teammate Krawiec has three, including last year’s title. After a winless 2018 season, Hines is off to a great start with four wins in the first six races, but his most recent outing in Chicago resulted in a disappointing upset loss against Andie Rawlings in round one.
Hector Arana Jr., the only rider other than Hines or Smith to win a race this season, finished as the No. 4 qualifier with a 6.868 on his Lucas Oil EBR. Arana Jr. has been incredibly consistent this season with five semifinals to go with his win at the Las Vegas Four-Wide event.
Following Friday evening’s knock-down, drag out qualifying session in Pro Stock Motorcycle, there was just a moderate among of movement throughout the field in sessions three and four, but that doesn’t mean that Saturday’s runs weren’t productive. For most teams, the main goal shifted from all-out performance to preparation for Sunday’s final eliminations. Surprisingly, neither Krawiec nor Hines earned a qualifying bonus point in the first session.
Chicago winner Matt Smith, the No. 3 qualifier, was quickest with a 6.877 while Scotty Pollacheck, Smith’s teammate, made one of his best runs of the year with a 6.885. Angelle Sampey, the third Harley rider, also continued to make progress in her first year on the Harley Street Rod with a 6.887. The bonus points in Q4 went to Krawiec, Smith, and Hines.
While Krawiec, Hines, Smith, and Arana Jr., can easily be pegged as the favorites, the riders poised to win for the first time this season include Pollacheck, Sampey, and Karen Stoffer, who rode a string of four nearly-perfect reaction times to a runner-up finish in Chicago.
Round one pairings (lane choice first): Eddie Krawiec vs. Michael Ray; Matt Smith vs. Kelly Clontz; Andrew Hines vs. Marc Ingwersen; Hector Arana Jr. vs. Joey Gladstone; Scotty Pollacheck vs. Ryan Oehler; Angelle Sampey vs. Karen Stoffer; Angie Smith vs. Cory Reed; John Hall vs. Hector Arana Sr.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE LOW QUALIFIER EDDIE KRAWIEC: “I have a great motorcycle right now and I’m glad that made a good clean run in Q4. On the first run [Q4] we missed the set-up a bit and we had to go back and work towards what I consider a race day set-up. Today was good, but we don’t know what to expect on Sunday. The temperature is supposed to be up 10-12 degrees and if that’s that case, the tune-up will change and we’ll have to adapt. This green [low qualifier] hat it great but I want to have a yellow [winner’s] hat tomorrow.
“It’s interesting that all three of our Harley Street Rods want to be tuned differently. There is no such thing as same tune-up. You’d think that they’re all made with mechanical parts that work together and we make them on CNC machines, so they are precision components, but no two bikes want the same tune-up. We give each of our bikes what they want on their own. That’s why we make four qualifying runs. You have to learn to tune from the data they give you.
“I love racing here, and the Bader family does a great job. This place is know for it’s $1 ice cream and I hate to admit it but I’m lactose intolerant that that’s the running joke in our pit. I do like the cool ice cream scoops they give out for a trophy. I’ve got a few of them at home, and it’s a really cool thing. I know everyone wants one.”