Ed Krawiec won last year’s NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title in dominating fashion: nine wins, two runner-up finishes and five No. 1 qualifiers. This year, the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team has a new engine package to deal with, something Krawiec thinks may slow down the dominating Harleys when they get to the NHRA Gatornationals, March 14th through 17th at Auto plus Raceway at Gainesville, Florida.
“I suspect a slow start for us probably going to Gainesville,” said Krawiec in a recent NHRA teleconference. “It's exciting just to be able to make Gainesville at this point. Back in November when the rule change came about, we were very optimistic about having the opportunity or chance to make Gainesville. But we had a lot of support from Harley Davidson and all of our vendors that stood behind us throughout the whole winter. All the employees here, it's been a total team effort. We wouldn't have a running engine if it wasn't for everybody. A lot of late hours put in. We're excited, looking forward to Gainesville. Hopefully the performance side of it will steadily increase throughout the season. I think you're going to see our stuff start coming alive about Englishtown May or June. That way we can get another three months of development.”
Krawiec, who has won the last three events at Gainesville, says his team is going to the Gatornationals with limited expectations. “This year is going to be a little bit different, coming into it with a brand-new package, where we would be really young in the stages of the R&D side now, we're only into it for about six days total of R&D,” said Krawiec. “Our intentions at Gainesville are right now to show up with our two Harley-Davidsons and qualify. Anything from there on would be a bonus. Then we'll continually raise our goals going to each race throughout the season. I'm excited. As I said earlier, I really love the way the points system is done this year. It's going to hopefully work to our advantage.”
Krawiec knows how important qualifying can be in the NHRA – he once lost a championship based on the precious “little points.” “The one (championship race) that gave me more satisfaction is actually, I say it all the time, the championship I didn't win in 2009,” admits Krawiec. “I went after my season of winning the championship without winning a race. I go on to win five races. I went to a total number of I think it was 10 or 11 final rounds and got the five victories throughout the season, I lose the championship by two points. You'd scratch your head and say, How could that happen? If you're winning races, going to final rounds, surely you should get the championship. Hector Arana, Sr. performed better at the final race. It came down to very precious qualifying points. You don't really look at it or think about two points being a lot, but at the end of the year two points was the deficit that I couldn't make up with my Harley and lost the championship.”
“But that sort of validated what everybody was saying,” continued Krawiec. “They were like, who is this kid who comes out, second year, wins the championship? What a messed-up points system, that shouldn't be that way. It actually shows you that there's hopes for anybody. If you're in that top 10, you have a solid chance. We saw Robert Hight do it a couple years later from the number 10 spot. It shows you the way the Mello Yello points series is done, I think it opens the door for just about anybody. I look forward to it, especially going into this season. I think the points are going to be our friends.”
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Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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