PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE STANDOUT EDDIE KRAWIEC REMAINS CALM AND CONFIDENT HEADING TO COUNTDOWN STOP AT NHRA KEYSTONE NATIONALS
MOHNTON, Pa. – Eddie Krawiec would be the first to admit he didn’t start the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship the way he planned to; but looking back at a season and career’s worth of success indicates he’s not about to panic.
Krawiec got bumped out of the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle after falling in the second round at the Countdown opener in Charlotte, dropping a spot behind teammate Andrew Hines, who won the event.
But with five races remaining and only a 20-point gap separating Krawiec and his teammate, the six-time finalist in 2015 knows there is time to rectify the situation. Krawiec, though, also wants to get back on track quickly on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson and that includes doing well at the 31st annual NHRA Keystone Nationals, Oct. 1-4 at Maple Grove Raceway.
“It was not the ideal race, but having the 30-point cushion (entering the Countdown) left us a little bit of a window,” said Krawiec, who has three wins this season. “Obviously moving forward now you have to capitalize on what’s ahead. My objective is to win every race. That’s my goal when I go to each one and that’s still my goal. Going in to the Countdown, it’s do or die time. There’s pressure on you to keep performing but I really enjoy that. I like the pressure side of it.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock), and Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2. The lucrative event is the third of six playoff races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, putting it at a key spot in the world title hunt.
It’s a favored track for Krawiec, who expects to come into Maple Grove Raceway clicking on all cylinders after his unexpected struggles in Charlotte. After qualifying first on his last qualifying run of the weekend, Krawiec fell to L.E. Tonglet in the second round, then watched his teammate and defending world champion Hines pass him in the points standings in the process. Since then, Krawiec and his team have been busy working on correcting whatever ailed them at zMAX Dragway.
“Honestly, we’ve been battling the hot tracks,” Krawiec said. “Andrew works pretty good on a hot track, but we’ve made some changes to hopefully cater to my set-up for the bike. I think it’s going to go in the right direction. We know we have good stuff and obviously we can run well in the heat because we went (No.1 in qualifying). We’ll look at the clutch program a little harder and get focused and I feel like we’ll have a strong outing in St. Louis (this weekend) and then Maple Grove.”
Hines won his fourth world championship a year ago, while Krawiec claimed his third Pro Stock Motorcycle title in 2012. He would certainly enjoy catching up to his teammate this year and Krawiec is among the favorites in the Countdown after leading the points in the class for the final nine events of the regular season.
He won three straight races in Denver, Sonoma and Brainerd, and Krawiec has always been able to perform well in pressure conditions throughout his career.
“The picture becomes a lot clearer after these three races to open the Countdown,” Krawiec said. “It’s important to do well at all three of them to be able to move forward. It sets the picture and lets you see where you are. If you do well in these three races, by Dallas you know if you have a chance to win a championship.”
Trying to track down Krawiec and Hines is a talented Countdown group that features Jerry Savoie, who is currently in third, Matt Smith, who jumped to fourth with a final round appearance in Charlotte, Hector Arana Jr., Hector Arana, two-time season winner Karen Stoffer, Jim Underdahl, Chip Ellis and Scotty Pollacheck.
But Maple Grove has also treated Krawiec well throughout his standout career, as he has posted three total wins at the notoriously fast facility, including two out of the past three years.
“These next five tracks cater to the way my bike likes to run and I’ve always had good results in Reading,” Krawiec said. “You’re usually going to have fast conditions there and, as a driver, it’s always good to get those fast tracks. This race sticks out because you need to have your all your ducks in a row because you’re going to go fast. But you can only race the conditions you have. You have to be aware of that, stick with the obvious and try to keep rolling along.”
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher, the defending event winner who sits second in points, is chasing his ninth world championship. The loaded Top Fuel lineup also includes points leader Antron Brown, who won in Charlotte, Richie Crampton, who has four wins in 2015, three-time world champion Larry Dixon, Shawn Langdon, Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, Steve Torrence and Dave Connolly.
Del Worsham fired an impressive opening shot to start the Countdown in Funny Car, winning in Charlotte to take over the points lead. Trying to track him down will be Tommy Johnson Jr., who jumped to second with a final round appearance, Jack Beckman, who was upset in the first-round and dropped to third, reigning world champion and defending event winner Matt Hagan, John Force, Robert Hight, Ron Capps, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria.
Pro Stock points leader and reigning world champion Erica Enders, who has six wins this season including the most recent prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, will have her hands full dealing with challenges from four-time world champion and four-time 2015 winner Greg Anderson, who is in second, and his teammate Jason Line. Other championship contenders include two-time event winner in 2015 Chris McGaha, who is currently third, Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray, rookie Drew Skillman and veteran driver Larry Morgan.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will race hard in their quest to become winners of the thrilling event during the weekend.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Oct. 2, with sessions at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Oct. 3, at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Maple Grove Raceway at (610) 856-9200 or visitwww.maplegroveraceway.com. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Before the NHRA Mello Yello Series arrives in Pennsylvania for the NHRA Keystone Nationals, the circuit will visit Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Sept. 25-27, for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Keep up with all the action on ESPN and ESPN2.