NHRA: Pro Stock Motorcycle at Sonoma

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NHRA Mello Yellow drag racing series

Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals
Sonoma Raceway – Jul 27-29, 2018

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Tonglet brought home the win in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class after a 6.771 at 198.52 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to take down points leader Andrew Hines in the final round. The 2010 world champion notched his third consecutive victory at Sonoma Raceway as he now has two wins on the season.

“We got lucky in the first round because I had a terrible light, but once we got that round win we just kept rolling and turning on win lights,” Tonglet said. “We came off the trailer going fast this weekend and that kept going with each round, so that made today a great day.”

Tonglet took down Cory Reed, Joey Gladstone and No. 1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec en route to the victory.

Hines now has four runner-up finishes on the season as the current points leader will look for his first win in 2018 when Pro Stock Motorcycle returns to the circuit in Brainerd.

Five competitors in Pro Stock Motorcycle have now clinched a spot in the Coutndown, as Hines, Krawiec, Tonglet, Hector Arana Jr. and Jerry Savoie have locked-in their postseason berths.

Eliminations

Round 1

Another race, another 200-mph run for Hector Arana Jr. who won his fifth-straight round with a 6.832, 200.35 run against Angelle Sampey’s Liberty Raving Buell. The best elapsed time of the round went to Andrew Hines, who struggled in qualifying, but roared to life with a 6.778, 198.47 in his round one win against Scotty Pollacheck. Matt Smith, fresh off his win in Saturday’s Mickey Thompson Tire Pro Bike Battle, used a 6.803, 196.90 to get past rookie Ryan Oehler. After the first round, two more riders, LE Tonglet, and Hector Arana Jr., have officially locked up their spots in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. They join Hines and Krawiec, who clinched their spots during qualifying.

Round 2

The Denso Spark Plugs 200-mph club has a new member after Eddie Kraiwec rode his Harley-Davidson Street Rod to a 200.08 speed in his win against Jerry Savoie.

Krawiec also outran opponent Jerry Savoie with the best pass of the round, a 6.771. Krawiec’s teammate, Andrew Hines, was also quick with a  6.798, 197.94 in his win over Matt Smith, who shut off early. Suzuki rider LE Tonglet and Jim Underdahl also moved on to the semifinals. Despite the loss, Savoie clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

 

Semi-Final

LE Tonglet will have a chance to win a Sonoma title for the fourth time in the last eight years after an upset win over Eddie Krawiec in the semifinals.

Tonglet was nearly perfect off the starting line and he rode to a 6.796 to beat Krawiec’s 6.769. Tonglet will be paired in the final with Krawiec’s teammate, Andrew Hines, who earned a spot in his 85th career final after a 6.820 win over Jim Underdahl’s Suzuki. Hines and Tonglet raced most recently in the Richmond final with Tonglet prevailing. Hines and Tonglet also fought a memorable battle for the world championship in 2010 with Tonglet winning the title as a rookie.

 

Final

LE Tonglet won for the 18th time in his career and his fourth in Sonoma when he defeated Andrew Hines in a thrilling final round.

Tonglet give up a slight lead at the start but quickly made up the difference and rode his Nitro Fish Suzuki to a 6.771, tying the best run of his career. Tonglet also ran a career best speed in the final with a 198.52 mph run. Hines, a runner-up for the third time this season, trailed with a 6.802. Tonglet, who was also a runner-up in Chicago, made his way to the final round with wins against Cory Reed, Joey Gladstone, and Hines’ teammate, Eddie Krawiec. Tonglet has now won the last three Sonoma events, to go along with a fourth title in 2011.





Final Qualifying

Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Krawiec raced to the No. 1 position for the second straight race with a run of 6.757 at 199.94 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who has five No. 1 qualifiers at the track, will meet Karen Stoffer to kick off eliminations. He also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship, as did teammate and points leader Andrew Hines.

“We’ve been chasing that 200 mph run and it was right there,” Krawiec said. “The weekend is still not over and (Sunday) it could definitely happen. I’m excited about it. I’m happy to have a green hat (as No. 1 qualifier), but I really wanted to hold that Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle check at the end of the day here. I had a great motorcycle all day and I’m excited going into raceday.”

Hector Arana Jr. stayed in second on his Lucas Oil Racing TV EBR, improving to a 6.775 at 199.88, setting up a first-round matchup with Angelle Sampey.

POSITION	DRIVER	ET	MPH
 #1     1 Eddie Krawiec          6.757  199.94   
 #2     7 Hector Arana Jr        6.775  199.88
 #3     6 Matt Smith             6.803  198.12 
 #4     3 LE Tonglet             6.806  197.57
 #5     2 Andrew Hines           6.823  197.13
 #6     9 Joey Gladstone         6.831  185.28
 #7     5 Jerry Savoie           6.857  195.96
 #8   235 Hector Arana           6.861  197.57
 #9   533 Jim Underdahl          6.877  194.80
#10     4 Scotty Pollacheck      6.885  195.08
#11    10 Angie Smith            6.886  192.91
#12   574 Cory Reed              6.890  195.79
#13   751 Steve Johnson          6.924  194.21
#14     8 Karen Stoffer          6.945  192.11
#15   745 Katie Sullivan         6.946  195.48
#16    32 Fred Camarena          6.954  195.99
#17  3284 Ryan Oehler            6.973  192.58
#18   491 Angelle Sampey         6.996  196.24
#19  1981 Kelly Clontz           7.006  192.30
#20   776 Scott Bottorff         7.184  169.34

 

MICKEY THOMPSON PRO BIKE BATTLE 

ROUND 1

Scotty Pollacheck, LE Tonglet, Matt Smith, and Eddie Krawiec survived an upset-filled round one of the annual Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle. Pollacheck advanced after Jerry Savoie fouled on his White Alligator Suzuki and Tonglet defeated Denver champ Hector Arana Jr., who ran 200.02 mph on his Lucas Oil EBR, but couldn’t match Tonglet’s 6.841 elapsed time with a 6.889. 

Matt Smith knocked out five-time battle winner Andrew Hines with a 6.783, the quickest run of the event so far. Angie Smith nearly defeated reigning world champ Eddie Krawiec, but her Denso Buell slowed to a 6.919, allowing Krawiec to advance with a 6.848, 198.73. Smith was .04-second better than Krawiec at the 1,000-foot mark before she wounded an engine, running just 180.36 mph. Krawiec was the only higher-seeded bike to advance.

 

SEMIFINALS

It will be Eddie Krawiec vs. Matt Smith for the $25,000 top prize in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle after a thrilling semifinal round.

Krawiec defeated Scotty Pollacheck to reach the final round for the third-straight year and he did it in style with a 6.757 to take over the top spot in qualifying. Krawiec also barley missed a spot in the Denso 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle Club with a career-best 199.94 blast. In the other pairing, Smith held on to defeat defending Pro Bike Battle winner LE Tonglet, 6.803 to 6.806. Smith also recorded an impressive speed with a 198.12 effort.

 

FINAL

Matt Smith used a starting line holeshot to grab the $25,000 first place check in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle. Smith got off the starting line first against rival Eddie Krawiec and held the lead to the finish line with a 6.793 to 6.764 victory.

The win was Smith’s first in the specialty event, which featured the best eight riders in the class. Earlier in eliminations, Smith rode his Victory to wins against Andrew Hines and defending event champion LE Tonglet. Krawiec, appearing in his foruth-straight Pro Bike Battle final round, received $10,000 for his runner-up finish.

NHRA FEATURES

Angelle Sampey

Angelle Sampey’s 42 NHRA national event victories include one at Sonoma Raceway. The three-time world champ won the 2004 Sonoma event by beating her cousin-in-law, Antron Brown in the final. Sampey would love nothing more than a second Sonoma win but she knows that in order to do so, she’s going to have to come from the No. 15 qualifying spot, which is a rarity. Sampey ran a best of 6.914 on Friday to make the field on her Liberty Racing Buell, but she also smoked the rear tire on another run. She had hoped to improve during Saturday’s two runs but missed the set-up with back-to-back runs of 7.014 and 6.996.

“When you launch, you are preparing yourself for 3G’s,” said Sampey. “You are tightening up your ab muscles and spurring the bike like a horse with your feet and your knees, and then all of a sudden the back tire jumped up and shot my head forward. I probably looked like a rookie rider but that’s what happens when the tire smokes like that. I’m really thankful we were able to capitalize on Friday night’s crisp air conditions and get a good run to keep us solidly in the show. Larry Morgan builds our engines and he’s giving us some good power and I think we can really turn on some win lights tomorrow.”

When it comes to the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Sampey is fighting to stay among the top ten playoff contenders. She entered the Sonoma race tied for the No. 10 spot with former world champ Hector Arana Sr. Her teammate, Cory Reed and veteran Steve Johnson are also in the mix, less than a round out of contention. Counting the Sonoma race, there are three races remaining for the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders to claim points, including the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, which features a points-an-a-half format.

“We just need to win some rounds in the next few races,” said Sampey. “We’re capable of doing that; we just need to find a way. I’d prefer not to go into Indy fighting for the last spot. I’d love to win a few rounds and get some breathing room but I also don’t want to think too far ahead.”

 

Andrew Hines

Until his win in Denver last week, Pro Stock’s Greg Anderson garnered a lot of attention because he’d gone half a season without a national event victory. Andrew Hines, the winningest rider in the history of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, finds himself in a similar situation heading into final eliminations in Sonoma. Hines came into Sonoma as the points leader, but his scorecard reads three runner-up finishes at zero wins for the season. Ironically, each of Hines’ losses have come against six different riders. He’s lost to teammate Eddie Krawiec, LE Tonglet, Jerry Savoie, Angelle Sampey, Matt Smith, and Hector Arana Jr. Savoie is the only rider to beat Hines twice, winning at the Charlotte Four-Wide race, and Norwalk.

“Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness,” said Hines. “We’ve made a lot of changes to my bike lately, including a lot this weekend. We’ve gone back and forth between extremes as far as the tune-up because we’re trying to find what works and what doesn’t. My bike appears to be a little more finicky than Eddie’s so we need to see how it responds to changes. We’ve jumped around during every qualifying session, especially when it comes to fuel and timing. It’s always a learning process.”

For all the experimentation, Hines is qualified solidly in the field with a sixth-best 6.823 and he’s on the opposite side of the latter from teammate Krawiec. That does not mean that Hines has an easy draw since he’ll likely have to go through Pro Bike Battle champ Matt Smith and/or Denver champ Hector Arana Jr. in order to make it to the final round.

“I think we’re going to surprise a few people today,” Hines said. “We took all the information we learned during qualifying and put our tune-up squarely in the middle. I think we have a program that works and my bike should be a lot closer to Eddie’s today. I made some really nice runs in high gear. We just need to get the rest of the track figured out. I think we’re a lot closer to doing just that.”

 

Jerry Savoie

The Western Swing presents a unique challenge for all NHRA pros but to be more specific, the adjustment from Denver to Sonoma seems to cause the most grief for racers chasing Mello Yello series championships. At this point, no one knows that better than Jerry Savoie, who was a runner-up in Denver, but has struggled in Sonoma’s seal-level conditions. Savoie made his best run in qualifying on Saturday afternoon with a 6.857, which was just enough to sneak into the top half of the field. Savoie insists that his issues aren’t necessarily related to the change in venues, but rather a mechanical issue with his White Alligator Suzuki.

“Something in our bike isn’t right; we’re just chasing it right now,” said Savoie. “We’ve got an internal issue with our engines and we’re just not running up to our full potential. We’ve made some good runs, we’re just not able to do it consistently. I should have been running 6.7s with he rest of the fast bikes. We’ve done that before here. We should be able to do it again. It’s frustrating but we’re just doing to deal with it for now.”

Savoie has also had past success in Sonoma. He was a runner-up to Eddie Krawiec in 2014 and 2015 and his teammate, LE Tonglet is the defending event winner.

“We love racing here; it’s such a beautiful place,” said Savoie. “Of course it’s even more beautiful when you’re winning. Last week, I gave one away. I red-lighted in the final against Junior [Hector Arana Jr.] and if I had been late as usual I’d have won the race. I’m not sure what Hector as thinking going red against me. He had me covered by a tenth.”

Savoie’s quest to reach a second-straight final begins with a round-one match against Hector Arana Sr.

 

Andrew Hines

Even the most experienced pros make mistakes from time to time and Andrew Hines wasn’t afraid to admit that he had a momentary lapse attention when he staged for his first qualifying run on Friday. Hines staged against Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec but the pair was shut off momentarily due to a few rain drops. Once he re-fired his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson Street Rod, Hines staged and dumped the clutch. The engine went to its 11,000 rpm limit but the bike didn’t move. At that point, it became apparent that Hines had forgotten to put the transmission back into low gear. Calmly, Hines reached down, put the transmission into gear, and completed his run with a 6.911-second elapsed time that was good for the No. 3 spot in the field.

“It was a silly mistake to make but hey, it happens,” said Hines. “I did my normal [staging routine] but we got interrupted when they shut us off. Normally, I’d check to make sure the bike was in gear, but I just forgot. As soon as it went to 11,000 and the bike didn’t move I knew what was going on. I knew that I was still in the stage beams, so I could still make a run as long as I got it in gear quickly. I was just thinking, ‘Don’t turn the switch off on me.’”

Hines doesn’t believe that the abnormal routine affected his run to a great extent although he admits to being slightly deep-staged, which likely cost him a couple hundredths in elapsed time.

“When I put the bike in gear I could feel the bike lurch forward,” Hines said. “I had a 1.09 sixty-foot time and it probably should have been a 1.07 and that would have made the run a 6.89 or so. The bottom line is that I almost threw away a run and given the weather this weekend, I couldn’t afford to do that. I had this horrible feeling that we were only going to get one or two runs and that I was going to have my first DNQ in a long time. I’m going to Alaska for a vacation next week and I think that would have made for a rough week if I had to think about that the whole time I was there.”

 

Arana Hector Sr.

Hector Arana Jr. has recently become known as “Mr. 200” after officially cracking open the 200-mph barrier for Pro Stock Motorcycles in Gainesville. Now his father, Hector Sr., can rightfully be called “Mr. 300” after becoming just the second rider to make 300 starts in the class. Steve Johnson, who started racing in 1987, is the class leader with 415 starts but after Arana, the active rider with he most starts is Andrew Hines at 252. Matt Smith has 233 and Angelle Sampey 228.

“When I started this, I never thought I’d get to 300 starts,” said Arana. “I was just worried about getting to the next race. I’ve gotten more out of this than I ever expected to. I’ve won races and I’ve won a championship and I’ve won the U.S. Nationals, but I think what’s most impressive to me is that I’ve been with Lucas Oil for almost my entire career. Forrest and Charlotte Lucas have treated my family like their own and they’ve not only allowed me to chase my dream, but they’ve also helped my sons [Hector Jr. and Adam] race too. They’re they most important part of this.”

In his previous 299 races, Arana Sr. has seven wins and 16 runner-up finishes. Even though he struggled often early in his career, he’s persevered to post a respectable 220-235 record in elimination rounds. Arana Sr. has also been the low qualifier 25 times in his career. Arana doesn’t think he’ll ever challenge Johnson for the overall record in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, but he’s also not about to close the book on his riding career.

“I think I’ve got a couple more good years left in me,” said Arana, who is now fully recovered from the rotator cuff surgery he had a year ago. “I still feel good and I still think I can ride and be effective. Even if I decided to stop riding, I don’t see myself retiring anytime soon. As long as Hector Jr. wants to ride I’ll be out here supporting him.”

Arana also addressed the performance deficit in the Lucas Oil camps. While Hector Jr. has regularly run over 200-mph this year, Hector Sr. does not have a 200-mph time slip other than the one he got from an independent event in Maryland last season.

“My bike isn’t as happy as Junior’s bike is right now,” Arana said. “I’m running big speeds, but not as fast as he has been running. Right now, our best two engines are in his bike but not for long. I hope we have some new stuff done in time for the western swing. I want to be able to run 200 when we get to Sonoma.”


Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com