Lucas Oil Raceway is Vance & Hines’ playground—practically butting right up to their Brownsburg, Indiana backyard. If the home team doesn’t win NHRA’s U.S. Nationals on their Harley-Davidsons, then one of their Suzuki customers generally does.
Still it was surprising when V&H riders Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec came off the trailer in the first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying this year with a clear performance advantage on the field and perfectly matched 6.825 elapsed times (Hines claimed provisional number one by virtue of miles per hour). After all, since the team parked their V-Rods in exchange for Street Rods in the middle of this season, they’ve struggled. And the Harleys were a no-show at the annual pre-U.S. Nats test session.
But when Krawiec said "We’ve made a lot of different chassis changes as the season has gone forward," what he really meant is that the team had gone back to their V-Rod chassis this weekend with Street Rod bodywork. And it was just as comfortable as hooking back up with a great old girlfriend.
Krawiec took over number one in Q2 with an .822 and held the performance advantage through the rest of the five sessions. Often that means that Hines’ bike is being used as a test mule, but this time around it just seemed like Andrew’s bike fell behind as he lost to defending NHRA champ Jerry Savoie in round 2 on raceday.
But Savoie, LE Tonglet, and their White Alligator Racing team found themselves in strange-for-2017 territory as seventh and eighth qualifiers, with Scotty Pollacheck the quickest Suzuki with a 6.862 in sixth. Season-dominator Tonglet lost to Krawiec in E2 and Pollacheck fell to Hector Arana Jr. in the same round.
Arana surprised everyone by showing up with a bike sporting EBR bodywork—totally untested by the team except in the wind tunnel. You might remember the Aranas tried the EBR some two years ago with unhappy results, but the one they brought to Indy is a whole new, separately-approved-by-NHRA body.
Still the results were similar and Arana was unqualified after two rounds. The team withdrew the EBR for Q3 and Junior was relieved to be back on his Buell—finishing third in the final order with a 6.84.
Arana raced past Savoie in the semi to the final with Krawiec, where Eddie found himself without lane choice (by .002) for the first time all day. Arana took the tree by .015 but Krawiec had the tune-up, taking back nearly 3/100ths on track for the 6.858 to .886 win.
It was Krawiec’s second win at the world’s biggest drag race in his adopted backyard, filled with family from his New Jersey home. Krawiec—who’s been with his wife Annemarie since he started racing—clearly feels as comfortable on the old familiar chassis as he does surrounded by family and friends. That will make Eddie dangerous in the Countdown to One championship race that starts next time out in Charlotte.
Points are reset for the Countdown and Kraweic’s 74-point gap to Tonglet is reduced to 20. Arana Jr., Savoie, Matt Smith, Hines, Pollacheck, rookie Joey Gladstone, Karen Stoffer and Angie Smith are all in the Countdown in that order.