Pro Stock cars, bikes 'competition' so far predictable

Greg Anderson and his KB / Summit team is dominating in the NHRA Pro Stock class, while the Harley-Davidsons of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines rule the Pro Stock Bike class so far this season. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Go ahead. Close your eyes and take a break. We'll wake you up when someone besides the KB / Summit team wins in the NHRA Pro Stock class or if anybody can knock Harley-Davidson riders Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines off the Pro Stock Motorcycle puck.

So far the notion of "competition" in both classes is dubious.

The Pro Stock class at least has seen Mike Edwards (Gainesville), Allen Johnson (Las Vegas), and Vincent Nobile (Houston) earn Wally trophies.

But in the first seven races, the KB / Summit Racing Pontiac duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line accounted for four victories and three top-qualifying positions. Anderson has led the standings after each race, and he opened a 72-point margin over No. 2 Line by defeating Line in the final round Sunday at the Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway -- their sponsor's race.

Hector Arana Sr. has been the lone rider to keep the performance honors away from the Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson racers. He has led the field at two of the three bike-class appearances. But Krawiec's final-round victory Sunday over Michael Ray completed the three-race sweep for the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team.

In the car division, Anderson became the first three-time winner this year, topping Line with a 6.649-second, 208.26-mph effort against Line's 6.618 / 209.62 for his 73rd career victory. It was Anderson's fourth victory at Atlanta Dragway. (Line was going for his 29th victory and back-to-back trips to the Commerce, Ga., winners circle.)

Although both Anderson and Line usually frown at elapsed times and speeds their opponents would give a set of tires to have, Anderson showed some joy but couldn't help but be self-crtical a bit.

After Sunday's victory, he said, "I feel like the luckiest guy out here today, because this was not a typical win for this Summit Racing team. I didn't have the best car, and I didn’t have my best day of driving, but we kept digging, working to get better with every run. As a result, we made fewer mistakes than our competition, and made it to the final against our teammate, which is, of course, the ideal scenario at your sponsor’s race.

"I'm not sure what happened to Jason in the final, but he apparently made a mistake, allowing me to get a jump at the starting line. My car then made a very nice run, and I was able to hold him off. For whatever reason, the good Lord was shining on me today," Anderson said. "I am very proud to have Summit Racing Equipment on the side of our car, and hope we made them proud today.

"Obviously, as a team we are very happy with today’s results, putting three cars in the semifinals and two in the final" Anderson said. "At a Summit event, it just doesn't get any better than that. The way this team is right now, if one car has an off race, we still have two that can go rounds and win races. That doesn't happen very often with multi-car teams, but this truly is one team with three cars, with everyone rowing the boat in the same direction. That is the one thing about this team of which I am proudest, and it all goes back to the people on this crew, and our team owner Ken Black.

"He is working so hard at his rehabilitation [following a stroke] in order to get back out here with us that we just want to keep digging deeper to make him proud. This is a tough, tough class, one where anyone can win on a given weekend," he said, "so we feel fortunate to have won as many as we have so far this season."

Said Line, "For some reason, I just didn't have a good rhythm in my staging procedure in the final, which naturally affected my reaction time. You can't do that against someone as good as Greg. As I have often said, he is a four-time champion for a reason, and to beat him, you have to be at your very best. Unfortunately, in the final today, I was a bit off, and it cost us.

"Still, things could have been a lot worse," he said. "My team gave me another great Summit Racing Pontiac to drive and we made it all the way to the final against our teammate. Naturally, I would have preferred to be the one holding the Wally, but I’ll just have to wait to do that until the next race."

That comes May 18-20 at Kansas' Heartland Park Topeka and the Dollar General Summer Nationals.

"I owe it to my guys," Line said, "and will do everything possible to finally get it done in Kansas."

Meanwhile, the Pro Stock Bike class will skip the Topeka event and reconvene May 31-June 3 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at Englishtown, N.J. And the two-wheeled racers will have some time to figure out how to stop Krawiec and Hines.

They could ask the NHRA to force Krawiec and Hines to race blindfolded or ride with a gorilla on their backs, but the indomitable duo probably could figure out a way to win even then.

Because of Krawiec's dominance on the Harley-Davidson in March at the bike-season-opening Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., the sanctioning body once again addressed the matter of parity. Eight days after the completion of the Gatornationals, in which Krawiec reset both ends of the Pro Stock Motorcycle national record (with a 6.750-second elapsed time and a 199.26-mph speed), the NHRA made another ruling.

It increased the minimum weight for the Harley-Davidson 160-cubic-inch-displacement, four-valve combination by 20 pounds (from 640 pounds to 660 pounds).

It hasn't stopped the Harleys from winning. Hines did it at Houston, and Krawiec captured the third event, at Atlanta, using a 6.905-second E.T. to beat first-time finalist Michael Ray (7.036 seconds).

Krawiec said the 20-pound addition to his bike "definitely slowed it down. I have tried to explain it to everybody that the extra weight, the 20 pounds, it wasn't going to make us not competitive. The goal, I think of NHRA, was obviously to try and bring us back into the pack, and by the performance of the Hectors (Arana Sr. and Arana Jr.) I think that definitely happened there."

The added weight, he said, "definitely did not make it better. I believe we should be going 106 60-foots [60-foot incrementals] out here and we can't. It is really hard to get the wheel speed out of the motorcycle initially, and that’s what we are really struggling with right now. We are going 108s and high 107s (to the 60-foot mark). From what we have seen right now it is about a hundredth and a half to the 60 foot and then it's five, eight thousandths the rest of the way down. It is probably a total of four to five hundredths that it hurt us, and it brought us right back into the pack.

"I think everybody wanted to see us just get punched in the gut and struggle to qualify," Krawiec said. " I think NHRA's motto was they just want to slow us down and bring us to a fair playing field. It is a tough balance. It is tough to make parity between all that, and NHRA does the best they can.

"If that's what they feel they needed to do to us," Krawiec said, "that's what we need to accept and we need to go back and work and put forth an effort. That's just the way it is. There is no reason to come out here and cry and complain about it."

He's not moaning. He said, "We are just trying to get a handle on the motorcycle and get it to leave nice and I think we did a good job with mine this weekend. I have a killer motorcycle under me right now."

Krawiec, who won the 2011 series title, has won 13 races overall and leads the standings. Guess who's next. Yep, Hines, 67 points behind.

So take that little nap. We'll get back to you.

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