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Savoie wins on a Suzuki, Arana Jr. moves into third place

  
  
  
  
  
  
story by Matt Polito

2014 NHRA Savoie resized 600Jerry Savoie finally sealed the deal on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki, earning his first NHRA Wally with a final round victory over Andrew Hines at the NHRA AAA Midwest Nationals in St Louis.  The event also saw S&S racer Hector Arana Jr. move back in to third place in the Mello Yello points with a semifinal finish.

Savoie, an alligator farmer from Louisiana, is popular among the other racers and it seemed like the rest of the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders and team members were behind him as he turned on the win light.

“Drag racing is a family,” said Savoie. “Its amazing that the whole Pro Stock Motorcycle pits were so happy for me.”

There was a time when Suzuki motors dominated Pro Stock Motorcycle racing.  But since the advent of the modern V-Twin Pro Stock motors by S&S and Harley-Davidson, Suzuki’s have been relegated to second-class status.  Of the last ten NHRA PSM championships, only one has been won by a Suzuki (LE Tonglet, 2010).

2014 seems to be the year when they are mounting a comeback.  Steve Johnson opened the year with a win on his Suzuki at Gainesville and for the month before the next event, he let everyone know he was the points leader.

That was the first win by a Suzuki in a while.  You have to go back to 2011 to find the last time a Suzuki won an NHRA PSM event before this year.

Savoie struggled in the beginning of the season losing in the first round at 6 of the first seven races.  Savoie and crew chief Tim Kulungian kept at it and improved until they qualified third at Norwalk.

Savoie was forced to withdraw from the next event on the schedule, Denver, to fly back to Louisiana to tend to his alligator farm, which was under threat of a major storm.

When he came back on tour at Sonoma, he qualified number one and went to the final where he redlit to Eddie Krawiec.  The next event was Indy were he again went to the final and again lost to Krawiec.

Sadly, his withdraw from the Denver race cost him a shot at the Mello Yello championship as he missed the Countdown field by two points.

At St Louis Savoie qualified second to Krawiec at 6.838 seconds and made the fifth final of his career when he beat Arana Jr. in the semifinals. 

Arana Jr. is still the best hope to win the NHRA championship with an S&S motor. He passed Steve Johnson to re-take the third position in the points.  Still, he lost a little ground to points leader Hines who made the final against Savoie.

Hector Arana Jr

In the final Savoie had a telepathic .005 reaction time but didn’t need it as his Suzuki beat the Harley 6.871 to 6.881.

“I’ve been out here for four years and I always said if I win one I’m retiring,” Savoie said afterward.  “Well, I lied…”

“We struggled early in the year with reaction times,” he continued. “We made clutch changes and ECU changes and we had some awesome lights this weekend. We had a good bike this weekend.”

As for any regrets on missing the Countdown, there are none for Savoie.

“Hey we got the fastest [PSM] Suzuki on the planet earth,” he said. “And that is a great thing!”

The next event on the NHRA tour is the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove, PA, Oct 2-5.

Texas Two-Step – NHRA Dallas

  
  
  
  
  
  
Story by Matt Polito

The NHRA AAA Fall Nationals in Dallas was a double-dip for racers challenging for the Mello Yello championship.  The race also held the complete elimination rounds for the Charlotte event postponed due to rain.   The Harley-Davidson® team of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines were the big winners with each earning an event win.

2014 NHRA Hector Arana Jr1

The format for getting two races to compete in one weekend was pressure-packed for the competitors.  After one shot at the track during the first round of qualifying on Friday, each qualifying lap would serve as an elimination round for the competitors still in competition.  The finalists would run the final as a non-qualifying pass late Saturday afternoon.  The Dallas event would be run as scheduled on Sunday.

The event saw the much-anticipated return of 3-time NHRA PSM champion Angelle Sampey who last raced in 2008.  It was a reunion for Sampey and George Bryce of Star Racing who was instrumental in bringing the S&S-powered Kosman Buells into NHRA competition in 2003.

Her return was anti-climatic as she qualified 12th at 6.988 and lost in round one to John Hall. Still, Sampey has never failed to qualify for an NHRA event and her streak of Sunday starts now extends to 184 races.

The semifinals of the Charlotte event, run on Saturday, saw the two Harleys facing off against each other with Krawiec advancing to his third final in a row.  The other side of the ladder was a heartbreaker.  Chaz Kennedy, a rookie riding the Star Racing Buell, had made his first semifinal appearance of his career, but he had a razor-thin -.003 redlight as the Suzuki of Steve Johnson broke in the other lane but still took the win light.

Krawiec took his fourth win of the year in a good race, getting by Johnson 6.88 to 6.91. He also earned the top qualifying position for the Dallas event in the process.

On Sunday, Krawiec spun the tire hard in the first round of Dallas eliminations giving Freddie Camarena his first round win in 11 years of racing on his Danny Griego-backed Suzuki.

The Dallas semifinals saw two Matt Smith Racing teammates get taken out with Scotty Pollacheck getting beat by Andrew Hines and Smith himself losing to Johnson, who made his second-straight final in forever.

Johnson broke a motor and couldn’t make the call in the final giving Hines a single for his fifth win of the season.

Incidentally, Krawiec’s win on Saturday moved him ahead of teammate Hines for the points lead but it only lasted one day as Hines took back the lead with his win on Sunday.

The top S&S-powered Buell riding in contention for the championship is Hector Arana Jr.   Arana Jr. had a good day on Friday, taking the early lead in qualifying with a 6.855 and winning the first round of the Charlotte event but things went downhill from there. On Saturday he lost the second round of Charlotte competition to rookie Kennedy on a holeshot and then lost the Dallas pole position to Krawiec who turned in a 6.841.  It got worse on Sunday when he lost in round one to Shawn Gann, putting a serious dent in his championship hopes.

With his two-straight final round appearances, Johnson and his Suzuki moved to third in the points.  Arana Jr. slipped to fourth.

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The NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racers are currently in a four-week stretch of consecutive races.  The next event on the calendar is the AAA Gateway Nationals in St. Louis on Sept. 26-28.

2014 NHRA Pep Boys Carolina Nationals

  
  
  
  
  
  
Story by Matt Polito

2014 NHRA countdown
The NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship kicked off at the Pep Boys Carolina Nationals in Charlotte but the event was over before it began.  Rain postponed Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations before the first pair of bikes took to the track for round one on Sunday.  Eliminations will be run during the qualifying sessions at the next event on the schedule, Dallas.

There was big news coming into the event when Michael Ray announced he was leaving the Star Racing team following a first round loss in Indy.  Sources stated that sponsor Gottspeed Racing was disappointed that the under-performance of Ray’s bike resulted in first-round losses in four of the last five events.  Gottspeed Racing will back Ray on the Suzuki of Joey Desantis for the remainder of the season.

2014 NHRA angelleStar Racing’s George Bryce responded with the blockbuster announcement that 3-time series champ Angelle Sampey-Drago will come out of retirement to run the team’s Buell starting either in Dallas or St Louis.

With only 16 bikes entering the Charlotte event qualifying would determine not who would race on Sunday but what the first round matchups would be.

Hector Arana Jr. led the field after the first day of qualifying on his Lucas Oil S&S Buell, running a 6.876 elapsed time at the top speed of the meet, 195.48 mph.

“This means a lot as far as my confidence goes,” said Arana, who qualified number one in Denver this season. “It’s all about confidence. I know I have the equipment to take me to the winner’s circle, but confidence is the key.”

Eddie Krawiec spoiled Arana’s party, edging him out for the number one spot at 6.849 seconds on Saturday to take the pole for the second race in a row.

While qualifying was run under two days of hot and humid conditions, Sunday dawned cool and overcast.  The forecast was for fast.  But there was an underlining issue: with the surrounding Charlotte area getting recent heavy rains, the resultant saturation had caused the rubber on the racing surface to peel. The nitro cars, with their massive amounts of aerodynamic down force, had run their first round of eliminations without incident. 

The Pro Stock car class began eliminations with the vehicles skating around on the top end.  NHRA officials halted the action to apply more traction compound but it did not resolve the issue as the cars continued to overpower the available traction until V. Gaines suffered a nasty, high-speed wreck.

The remaining Pro Stock Car competitors immediately began discussions of refusing to race on what they felt were unsafe conditions.  As NHRA officials were surveying the situation the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders gathered to discuss their options.

At around 3:00 rain came into the area and settled the issue. 

With three races in a row and the next available date to run the event at Charlotte being in conflict with a NASCAR event, NHRA officials felt their best option was to run the event in Dallas.

Next Event: AAA Texas FallNationals, Dallas, TX, Sept. 18-12

2014 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials

  
  
  
  
  
  

A land speed racing event at the Bonneville Speedway is something you should experience at least once in your life. You may love it or you may hate it, but it's something you will always remember.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first organized races on the salt flats, and S&S was on the salt for the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (formerly the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials) to celebrate and to support the people who have put so much time, energy, and yes, money into bringing a bike to the track.

It should also be mentioned that S&S is supporting the construction and organization of the new Bonneville Speedway Museum, an effort lead by Wendover, Utah, Mayor Mike Crawford and local Bonneville enthusiast John House. S&S has designed and produced a commemorative 100th Anniversary T-shirt, which is currently for sale on the S&S website and from the folks in Wendover. The proceeds of the sales will be used to fund the construction of the museum.

We invite you to look at these videos and photos from the 2014 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials. Maybe they will inspire you to make the scene at the salt-flats  next August to experience it for yourself!

Bonneville Speed Trials

Want this poster? Free to anyone who stops by the S&S Display at any event. Visit https://www.facebook.com/SScycle/eventsfor our event schedule.

Rider Team Name Class Record
Jay Allen Jay Allen Racing A-PF 2000 174.845
Jim Fischer Warner - Riley - Witt APS-PF 1650 187.454
Jim Hoegh Confederate APS-PF 3000 171.005
Cayla Rivas Chris Rivas V-Twin MPS-PF 500 117.808
Drew Woodford The Chop Parlor MPS-PF 1000 136.346
Ken Zetterquist FRCP/JRV Racing APS-CBG 1000 153.841


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NHRA Chevy Performance US Nationals

  
  
  
  
  
  
Story by Matt Polito


2014 IND WC. smjpg
Eddie Krawiec took out the Suzuki of Jerry Savoie for the second race in a row as the Countdown to the Championship field was set at the NHRA Chevy Performance US Nationals in Indianapolis.

The US Nationals, held every year in Indy over Labor Day weekend, is the most prestigious event on the NHRA Mello Yello championship tour.  It is also the last event racers have to place themselves in the Countdown playoff. This year was the 60th running of the event.

Krawiec and Savoie knocked each other out of the top spot as qualifying progressed.  Krawiec led on Friday with a 6.930 elapsed time.  Savoie led after Saturday’s runs with a 6.878 but Krawiec came back on Sunday and took the pole with a 6.829 at 196.56 mph.

Matt SmithS&S powered Buells were well-represented in the field, holding the next five positions led by Matt Smith at 6.888, Michael Ray with a 6.890 and Hector Arana Jr. at 6.906.  In all, there were 10 S&S powered Buells in the qualified field of 16 bikes.

The race was run under the constant threat of rain and Monday’s eliminations were no exception.  And while rain never became a factor, the race was held under grey skies and in humid air.

Hector Arana Jr. came out swinging, setting the low elapsed time of the first round with a 6.896 time slip.  Krawiec set the pace with a 6.986 in round two which saw a couple of teams facing each other: Matt Smith took out wife Angie and Krawiec beat teammate Andrew Hines.

The semifinals perfectly represented the elite of the class: Krawiec from Harley-Davidson; Matt Smith from the MSR team on his Buell; Hector Arana Jr. representing his family’s team on his Buell and Savoie, currently the quickest Suzuki in the class.

Savoie advanced to his second straight final when Smith had shifting problems. Krawiec outran Arana Jr.

The final had even bigger implications for Savoie, as he needed to win the event to make it into the Countdown.

Having redlit to Krawiec in the Sonoma final, Savoie went easy on the tree and the result was a disastrous, .143 reaction time.  Krawiec had a solid .026 light and took the win with a 6.941 to Savoie’s 6.987. Savoie missed the Countdown by 3 points.

The win was special for Krawiec.  The three-time champ has won everything there is to win in the class but has never won Indy.

“It’s so awesome to get a win here at Indy,” said Krawiec, who now has 25 career wins “There’s so much tradition at this race, a win here is sort of on a different level. My professional goals have always been to get a win at my home track in Englishtown, to win the championship, and to get a win at Indy. Now I’ve done all three.”

The Countdown format takes the top 10 riders and tightens up the points between them to ensure anyone in the Countdown has a legitimate shot at earning the championship.  The number 10 rider is reset to 2000 points, effectively eliminating any rider not in the top 10. Each place up from the tenth position is given an addition 10 points, half of the value of an elimination round win of 20 points.  The top rider is given a 30-point advantage. 

The field for the Countdown is as follows:

Position Rider Bike  Points
1) Andrew Hines Screamin' Eagle H-D®  2110
2) Eddie Krawiec Screamin' Eagle H-D®  2080
3) Hector Arana Jr. Lucas Oil S&S Buell  2070
4) Hector Arana Lucas Oil S&S Buell   2060
5) John Hall Nitro Fish S&S Buell  2050
6) Matt Smith Nitro Fish S&S Buell   2040
7) Michael Ray Gottspeed/Star Racing S&S Buell  2030
8) Scotty Pollacheck Petrohead Apparel S&S Buell  2020
9) Angie Smith Kandy Magazine S&S Buell  2010
10) Steve Johnson Hite Rodgers/Snap Fitness Suzuki  2000

Most impressive on the list is that the Matt Smith Racing camp has all four of it’s S&S powered Buells in the top 10: Matt Smith, his wife Angie, John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck.  Of note is that both Hall and Pollacheck announced sponsorship extensions throughout the season, Hall with Nitro Fish and Pollacheck with Petrohead Apparel.  It can be said that MSR accounts for 40% of the Countdown field.

The Countdown to the Championship kicks off with the Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, NC, September 12-14 and continues for four consecutive weeks including stops in Dallas, St Louis and Maple Grove, PA.

American Motorcycle Racing Assoc. Summer Shootout National. Powered by S&S

  
  
  
  
  
  

amraThe Summer Shootout Nationals in Beech Bend Raceway Park Bowling Green KY proved to be a scorcher! Once again, the threat of thunder storms was in the area all weekend but heat and humidity is what the racers had to deal with while leaving conditions less than desirable.

Despite the weather, some good times were still put in over the weekend. Tim Grindle ran 160.31 mph in testing Friday with his new 144 inch Pro Stock S&S engine from GMS Racing Engines but as the conditions grew worse, and clutch issues started, he was unable to back the numbers up. Gregg Dahl would put in some good numbers as well with a qualifying pass of 5.530 in the 8th, 8.580 in the quarter, but again heat and humidity kept him from backing up the numbers.  

In eliminations Gregg Dahl managed to squeak by after standing his bike up on the rear wheel and throwing the chain at about the 330 and drifted through the finish line at 56.85 mph over Greg Baugh,s sputtering machine that got to the stripe running 81.77 mph, but Dahl's reaction time gave him the win.

On the other side of the ladder Charlie Douglass put Ken Miller on the trailer with a 8.787 to a slower 9.109 putting himself into the semi finals. Tim Grindle's .142 at 157.85 mph did not stand up to Nick Gonatas's .053 reaction time at 149.28 mph matching up two riders that have been running consistent numbers all weekend. As the tree dropped, Douglass's -.038 red advanced Gonatas into the finals setting the stage for a rematch or would it be a repeat of Rockingham?

The weekend would end just like Rockingham as Nick Gonatas of Youngstown Ohio would put his Warren Harley-Davidson V-Rod in the winner's circle with a whole shot win of 8.782 over Gregg Dahl's 8.813 GMS Racing Engine's FXR.

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Story by: Michael Davis Moto Lenz Photos

 

Harley Doubles Up - 2014 NHRA Sonoma Nationals

  
  
  
  
  
  

2014 NHRA SON MiraMonteBB 3Despite some spirited competition from riders Scotty Pollacheck and Jerry Savoie, the Harley-Davidson team took a double win at the Mello Yello NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway in California.  Eddie Krawiec took the event win while teammate Andrew Hines won the MiraMonte Records Pro Bike Battle special eliminator.

The MiraMonte Records Pro Bike Battle is an event modeled after the historic Wax Shop Dash.  An elite field of eight riders is seeded based on points earned during qualifying throughout the season. Eliminations for the Bike Battle are held on Saturday with a total purse of $61,000 - $25,000 of which goes to the winner.

It has been five years since the Pro Stock Motorcycle class has had a specialty event.  The last Bike Battle, held in 2009, was sponsored by Ringers Gloves.

The contestants for the 2014 MiraMonte Records Pro Bike Battle:

1. Eddie Krawiec  Screamin’ Eagle H-D   1,295
2. Hector Arana Jr.  Lucas Oil S&S Buell   1,290
3. Andrew Hines  Screamin’ Eagle H-D  1,175
4. Matt Smith  NitroFish S&S Buell  1,120
5. Michael Ray  Gottspeed/Star Racing S&S Buell  1,105
6. John Hall  DrinkHard S&S Buell  1,055
7. Hector Arana  Lucas Oil S&S Buell  1,000
8. Scotty Pollacheck  Petrolhead S&S Buell  970
                 

 The surprise of the Bike Battle eliminations came in round one when Scotty Pollacheck cut a .008 reaction time to score a holeshot win over top-seeded rider Krawiec, 6.841 to Krawiec’s quicker 6.814.  Pollacheck went on to beat his team owner, Matt Smith, to make the final.

Hines took out John Hall and Hector Arana to face Pollacheck in the money round.

Pollacheck got the holeshot in the final with a .016 light but could not hold off Hines.  The Harley had a four foot lead over the finish line, 6.835 to Pollacheck’s 6.866.

While the Bike Battle was being contested, Suzuki rider Jerry Savoie claimed his first-ever #1 qualifying performance with a run of 6.810 seconds at 197.86 mph on his White Alligator Racing entry.

It was Savoie’s first number one qualifying performance in his four years of Pro Stock racing and the first time a Suzuki qualified number one since Steve Johnson took the pole at Englishtown in 2013.

Following Savoie in qualifying were Krawiec and Hines both with 6.81 timeslips.  The top S&S Buell was Pollacheck, placing fourth at 6.841.  Buells held five of the top eight positions.

The likable Savoie, an alligator farmer from Louisiana, is popular among the other racers.  They cheered him on as he advanced with some of the quickest laps of eliminations to make his third career final.  He ran 6.819 in the first round and 6.819 in the semis against John Hall to earn lane choice over Krawiec in the final.

With seemingly the entire field of Pro Stock Motorcycle racers standing behind him as he staged for the final, Savoie broke hearts, turning on a -.014 redlight to give Krawiec his second win of the season.

The next event on the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle tour is the Chevrolet Performance US Nationals at Indy over Labor Day weekend.  It is the last event that riders can earn points to get into the playoff “Countdown” that will determine the Mello Yello championship.

The top 10 riders advance to the countdown.  Angie Smith and Steve Johnson sitting in the ninth and tenth spots are most vulnerable but Adam Arana, Savoie and Chaz Kennedy have an uphill battle, being at least three elimination rounds behind.

 

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Arana Jr. Sets Track Record, Hines Gets Fourth Win In Denver

  
  
  
  
  
  
story by Matt Polito

Andrew Hines

Hector Arana JrHector Arana Jr. set both ends of the track record in the tricky, high-mountain air as Andrew Hines took his fourth win of the season at the NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Raceway in Denver, CO.

Hines, riding for Harley-Davidson, scored his second-straight win in the Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with a final round victory over the S&S-powered Star Racing Buell of Michael Ray.

It was Hines’ fifth final round appearance in the last seven races.  He now has four wins on the season – no other racer has more than one. He also has a commanding lead in the Mello Yello points and was the first in the class to lock into a spot in the championship playoff “Countdown”.

The win was his third at the facility he once called his home track having lived in Trinidad, CO, for ten years.

“Coming back to this track is very special,” said Hines.  “I made my first career passes here back in 2002. Bandimere Speedway holds a very special place in my heart.”

The Mile-High Nationals is an outlier on the NHRA tour. The thin, high-altitude air starves race motors and crew chiefs have to throw out their tried-and-true tuning combinations.  Elapsed times are typically off by three tenths of a second.

The Arana family and their S&S power has had the best hold of the track in recent times.  In the three previous years each member of the racing family, Hector, Hector Jr. and Adam, has been a number one qualifier. 

At the 2014 edition it was Hector Jr.’s time again. His S&S powered Lucas Oil Buell made the quickest lap in the field for the first three qualifying sessions. He took the pole and set both ends of the track record at 7.178 seconds and 186.72 mph with his runs recorded on Friday, the first day of qualifying.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Arana. “It’s nice to know you have a good setup on the mountain. It’s a big deal, even though it’s a one-off race, but it’s pretty awesome to be good at this race.”

Arana Jr.’s performance snapped the five-race streak of number one qualifiers by Harley’s Eddie Krawiec.  Arana Jr. was the number two qualifier at four of those events.

Hines ending up in the second spot at 7.198 seconds as Krawiec was third at 7.208.

Arana Jr. set low elapsed time of eliminations on Sunday at 7.201 seconds with a first round win over the Suzuki of Charlie Sullivan.

The big surprise of the race came a round later when both Arana Jr. and Krawiec lost to slower opponents on holeshots.   Arana Jr. lost to his father as Krawiec lost to the Power Sports Institute Suzuki of Steve Johnson.

Hines took out Johnson in the semifinals while Ray, who placed second in the Mello Yello standings last season, advanced to his first final since his victory in Chicago last year by getting around the elder Arana.

It is the first time in three races that Arana Sr. has not made the final.

In the Denver final Ray got the holeshot with a telepathic .005 reaction time but his Buell would not shift into second gear allowing Hines to cruise to the win with a 7.246 elapsed time.

In the end, Hines was able to best survive “The Mountain”.

“Every single move you make on the motorcycle is compounded up here because the motorcycle doesn’t have the horsepower to recover from it,” he said. “The straighter a run you can make up here the better. Your shift points are all timed differently on the race track the motor is revving at a totally different rate than at any other race track.”

The next event on the NHRA Mello Yello tour is the Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway in California, July 25-27.  The event will host the MiraMonte Records Pro Bike Battle, a special event featuring the elite eight racers in the series, which will be held on Saturday during the event.

2014 NHRA CHI HD 33

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Hines Extends Points Lead - 2014 NHRA Norwalk, OH

  
  
  
  
  
  
story by Matt Polito

2014 NHRA ahines1After a two-race slump, Mello Yello points leader and Harley-Davidson factory rider Andrew Hines found the winner’s circle at the NHRA Summit Racing Nationals in Norwalk, OH.  The win came at the expense of Hector Arana, who, after making his second straight final on his S&S-powered Lucas Oil Buell, saw his winless streak extend to 75 races.

While Hines has led the points since early in the season and has more wins than any other rider in the Pro Stock Motorcycle series, for the past few races his bike has been not as fast as the one ridden by teammate Eddie Krawiec.

Following early-round losses a week earlier in Chicago, the team decided a new V-Rod was in order for Hines.

“We’ve been working on the new chassis for a while just to have a spare bike,” said Hines. “After the struggles we have had, we figured it was time to put it in service.”

The bike was fitted with all mechanical and electrical components in the turnaround between Chicago and Norwalk.  Its first lap down the track came at the first qualifying session in Norwalk where Hines recorded a 6.94 second elapsed time to place third for the session.  He ran 6.91 in the second session but slipped to fourth place – seven-hundredths behind teammate Krawiec who set the track record at 6.844 seconds.

Hines couldn’t improve on his number during Saturday’s qualifying session and most of the field got around him.  He fell to the tenth qualifying position as Krawiec went on to claim his fifth-straight number one qualifier.

The Vance & Hines V-Rod Pro Stock chassis are comprised of two separate components to facilitate easy engine swaps.  The rear section holds the rear wheel and most of the electronics and the front holds the motor and the front fork.  The front half of both team bike chassis were replaced last year after the mandated engine configuration change.  The rear halves were constructed in 2009.

Hines stated that the age of the rear half will affect the bike’s handling leading to a cascade of issues. 

“The rear cradle takes all the stress of the launch,” he said.  “Since is it so old the bike has become a little ‘darty’ – like it has a mind of it’s own.  It makes it hard to ride and be consistent.  When it is not consistent it is hard to tune.”

The new bike was so different he had to change his riding approach.

“This one is easier to ride,” he said.  “It is way more drivable. I found myself overcorrecting it.  I started to finess it a little more and responded well.”

It all came together on Sunday where Hines scored the low elapsed time of the first two rounds of eliminations with a pair of 6.89s.  Krawiec’s bike deloped a bog and he went out in round two.

The team missed the tune-up on Hines’ bike in the semifinals but it was no matter as he still outran the Power Sports Institute Suzuki of Gainesville winner Steve Johnson to make his fourth final of the year.

On the other side of the ladder the elder Arana, who set the track speed record at 196.93 mph in qualifying, took out son Adam on the MAV TV Buell, 6.89 to 6.96.

Norwalk is a special place for Arana, Sr. He won his first NHRA National event at Summit Motorsports Park in 2008, which was the precursor to his championship season in 2009.  Hines has his own strong memories of Norwalk, winning the race three times including the inaugural event in 2007.

Arana had not won an event since his championship season in 2009 and would have to wait at least another race as Hines got a slight jump off the line and won his third win of the year, 6.90 to 6.92.

“When the bike is running hard it is more consistent,” said Hines when asked how his performance picked up on Sunday.  “When it is consistent we can tune it better.  If it is going straight I can focus on my shift points.  My confidence goes up and that has a big effect on how the bike runs.”

The 2014 season has been a dramatic turnaround for Hines.  Last year at this point in the season he had only two elimination round wins.  This year he has 19.  Last year he was out of the top 10 for the first time since his rookie half-season in 2002. Now he’s leading the points.

The Harley team maintained their one-and-two spot in the points, followed by Hector Arana Jr. and Sr. and the MSR team of John Hall, Matt Smith, Scotty Pollacheck and Angie Smith.

“It’s nice to be in the number one spot again,” said Hines.  “It’s even better with Eddie right behind me.”

The NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle series continues with the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, CO, July 18-20.

2014 NHRA ahines2

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Arana’s Make Historic Final - NHRA Chicago

  
  
  
  
  
  
Story by Matt Polito

Hector Arana and Jr.Just a week after the NHRA saw it’s first husband and wife Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle final, the sport had it’s first father-son PSM final when Hector Arana, Jr. took the win over his dad a the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, IL.

“We won this race together,” said Hector Jr. who brought his Lucas Oil S&S-powered Buell to the winner’s circle for the first time since Sonoma of last season. “We race as a team.  It’s been a dream to race my dad in a final.  We have been working toward it for four years.”

For the past few races, Arana Jr. has been just a bit behind the performance-leading Harley of Eddie Krawiec.  Krawiec scored his fourth-straight, number-one qualifying performance at Joliet, running a 6.872 at 194.86 mph, and while he had the quickest lap of each qualifying session, Arana Jr. had the second best bike in three of the four sessions. 

Arana Jr. has also qualified second to Krawiec for the third race in a row.

“It always seems like it’s me and Hector Jr. battling it out,” said Krawiec at the conclusion of qualifying in Joliet.

Over the last year Arana Jr. has consistently had one of the quickest bikes in the field but more times than not a small miscue or mechanical malfunction takes him out of competition. 

At Joliet the tables turned when Krawiec’s V-Rod had a throttle position sensor go bad, forcing him to maintain a high idle when staging in round two against Epping winner Angie Smith. 

Krawiec red-lit against Smith in round two as Arana Jr. took out Krawiec’s teammate, points leader Andrew Hines and Arana, Sr. got by defending series champ Matt Smith on the MSR Buell.

Both father and son made their first finals of the season when they advance in an all-S&S semifinal round with Arana Sr. beating Angie Smith and Arana Jr. taking out Shawn Gann.

The elder Arana got a .007 holeshot advantage off the line in the final but Hector Jr. powered by him and took the win light 6.925 to 6.946.  It was his eighth event title in 14 final round appearances.

“We had two solid Buells out there,” said Hector Jr.  “The Harleys are strong and that is what motivates us.”

His dad has not won an event since his championship in 2009 but he had no problem losing this one.

“ I wasn’t nervous for the final,” said Hector Sr. “I was calm. I felt like I already won.”

“It’s what we needed,” he continued. “This makes us want to work harder. We will polish and fine-tune these S&S motors so we can consistently beat the Harleys.”

With the win Hector Jr. maintained his third-place spot in the Mello Yello championship points and closed the gap on points leaders Hines and Krawiec.

The Route 66 Nationals is the second event in a three-race swing that concludes in Norwalk, Ohio next weekend at Summit Motorsports Park on July 3-6.

2014 NHRA CHI Final

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