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Bikers' rodeo of rhetoric ready for Texas heat

The notoriously mouthy Pro Stock Motorcycle class is operating at full tilt again.

And Eddie "Crusher" Krawiec, Jersey accent and Jersey 'tude conspicuous, is taking on Jerry Savoie, a Louisiana alligator farmer who's half again his age -- and any other jaw-jackin' biker who questions him.

After all, Krawiec confronted and conquered his biggest obstacle to a second championship -- himself. Now he's ready to stand up to anyone, or as he put it Sunday after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Concord, N.C.'s zMAX Dragway, "trash-talk on the track."

The victory was Krawiec's first at zMAX Dragway and it extended his perfect final-round record this season to 3-0. He remains the class points leader as the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series travels to Texas this weekend for the AAA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex at Ennis, south of Dallas.

More impressively, his 63-point margin over No. 2 Karen Stoffer, his final-round opponent Sunday, is the biggest among all the pro classes following the first of six Countdown events. He leads third-place Matt Smith by 116 points, overwhelmingly better than his NHRA pro counterparts.

But getting to that point was an angst-filled journey for Krawiec.

The Screamin' Eagle / Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider was frustrated with himself, said he "felt I gave up a couple of race wins this year. I feel like I've been riding well but I'm riding better than I'm racing." That, he said, "wears on you."

Furthermore, coming to this race brought back memories of the inaugural event, in 2008, when he

red-lit against Steve Johnson in the final. He went on to win the championship that season without winning a single event -- the first NHRA racer to win a crown without ever winning a race first. And that bugged him, too. He heard criticism, and that wasn't how he wanted to establish himself in the NHRA.

So he changed his attitude, and "Crusher Krawiec" emerged this past weekend. "Conflicted Krawiec" and "Questioning Krawiec" have disappeared. Resolve has replaced reticence. Meaning has replaced mediocrity. Determination has replace doubt.

He said he had struggled at the Christmas tree this season and that the blame is "mixed between the motorcycle and the rider." But he wasn't going to let "the rider" off the hook. No one, not even himself, is going to escape Krawiec's take-no-prisoners approach.

In an effort to prove -- maybe to himself as much as to anyone -- that he belongs in the lead, he said he decided, "I have the bike that can do it, but the rider wasn't always there. Now the rider's going to be there.


"It comes down to I feel I am a champion, I know I am a champion, and I want to be another champion," the 2008 titlist said. "I don't want anybody to beat me. I don't want to lose. I want to win this whole deal, and that's what I'm here to do," Krawiec said.


"I want to crush everybody. That's the way I look at it," he said. "My goal [coming into the six-event Countdown] was to try to dominate the first four races . . . and I'm not leaving anything on the table."

As for his newfound swagger or posture, Krawiec, of Old Bridge, N.J., said, "That's the Jersey coming out. It's my Jersey attitude."

He indicated that he had had enough of "a lot of people running their mouths." He insisted that his team never sandbags and always has the highest expectations every time the haulers leave the Brownsburg, Ind., race shop: "We always plan on winning. I don't think anybody's going to stop us," Krawiec said.


"I think we definitely made a statement to all those guys who had something to say in the pits," he said after eliminating Johnson, Arana III, Michael Ray and finally a strong-running Stoffer. "We trash-talk more on the track, because we've got our Wally."

He earned it in style Sunday. As No. 1 qualifier, leading each of the four time-trial sessions, he blazed through eliminations. He reset both ends of his own track record with his quarterfinal blast of 6.810 seconds at 196.79 mph -- on a solo run after Hector Arana III's bike broke on the starting line. Finally, Krawiec let Karen Stoffer know she wouldn't get the points lead back if he had anything to say about it. He sent a 6.870-second, 196.42-mph message, even though the GEICO Suzuki rider (one of Vance & Hines' engine-prep clients) red-lit by two-hundredths of a second beside him.

Sunday he ran a blistering 6.836-second, 196.33-mph pass. Then he issued a verbal challenge to any doubters, pointing to what he called a mind-boggling run.

"They'd sure better be mind-boggled all right there with that. You know what? This Screamin' Eagle team came out here -- we're serious. We're trying to prove a point. We're showing everybody. A lot of people are talking junk, having something real bad to say, whatever. Come on over to our trailer and say it to our faces. Let's go. We're proving it on the track, not in the pits."

What set him off was Jerry Savoie's playful jab at him in the previous race, at Indianapolis, as Savoie referred to him as "a screaming chicken."

Savoie said he has nothing against Krawiec as a person -- he said he just thinks the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team has an unfair advantage.

"When you have the only two motorcycles of their type in the country and no one else can buy one and no one can get on one and give them a run for their money, how can you be proud of winning a championship?" the Suzuki rider said. “When you have something nobody else has, 160-cubic inches, four-valve per cylinder, double-overhead cam. We run 107 with head technology from 1998. We need a new head configuration."

He accused Vance & Hines of creating a phony sense of parity in the class.

"My hat's off to Eddie Krawiec. I’m a good sportsman and I can take a whuppin’," Savoie said. “And I like Harley-Davidsons, but that’s not a Harley-Davidson. That’s the bottom line.”

Savoie said his group didn’t start the war. He alleges Krawiec did: "None of this would have started until Eddie Krawiec ran his mouth in Indy, until he said he came here to whoop a-- and hold no prisoners and turn up the screws at Indy and let them fly," Savoie said. "He said he’s been holding back all year long. Eddie Krawiec can kiss my a--."

Krawiec said he doesn't recall any of that smack-talk. He told Competition Plus, "We always race wide open. We are out here to win. We want to win every race and we aren’t holding back. It comes back to the point that everyone thinks we hold back. Why would we do that? It makes no sense. We have a sponsor and we want to win.”

Will the talk tame in Texas? Or will the words gush like oil at Spindletop? And who wants to take on "Crusher Krawiec?" This rodeo of rhetoric get under way Friday with the first two of four scheduled qualifying sessions.



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