He finished second
in the 2002 Pro Stock Bike point standings and while he may
have come up short of earning his first NHRA POWERade championship,
Craig Treble did have a career-best season of competition. He
snagged the first two event victories and went on to win four
races in six final round appearances. Treble is driven to win
even more in 2003. He has worked throughout the offseason preparing
his new Matco Tools Suzuki and wants this to be his championship
year. The Pro Stock Bike category opens the 2003 season in Florida
at next week's Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
In this Q&A session, Treble talks about what it is going to
take to knock Angelle Savoie out of the championship race, why
he gets better every season and why he can't stop bracket racing
in his spare time.
Q: What do you think
about the 2002 season considering you had such a good year,
but still finished in the No. 2 spot?
TREBLE: It was good
and bad. As far as feelings, we were totally happy with our
performance and the new bike and the Vance & Hines motor. Everything
was good there. As a team, however, we are still maturing and
we made some crucial errors. We went out in the second round
five times and that pretty much was our Achilles tendon last
year. We definitely need to improve on going more rounds and
that is why Angelle is the champion and we're not. We shot ourselves
in the foot less than we did in 2001, but (crew chief) Calvin
Aswege and I are still learning and we are learning together.
Calvin is loyal to Pro Stock Bike and me and I am as well to
him. Calvin and I will be together for a lot of years. We'll
learn more together as we go and hopefully we'll get a championship.
Q: What will it take
to keep Angelle Savoie from making it four consecutive titles
TREBLE: We had a winning
record against her. We beat her three out of five times. Unfortunately,
nobody else did. I said this on the Internet and its true -
people have got to step up. I'll tell you what, this year is
looking more promising for that because Geno Scali is going
to be on a Suzuki, Andrew Hines is a hungry young lion whose
dad happens to be Byron Hines, the world's best engine builder.
This class is going to be pretty interesting this year. I don't
know what is going on with (Shawn) Gann, but I am sure he will
be back strong and Antron (Brown) and all the other piranhas
will still be there. They just need to step up and take Angelle
Q: What is it going
to take to win races and the 2003 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Bike
TREBLE: Winning rounds.
It is very simple, you have to go one at a time, and win rounds.
One of the problems we are having is that I think I am less
consistent now than I have ever been. I think that is due to
the fact that I have not been bracket racing nearly enough.
That is why that shiny black Hayabusa is sitting outside of
my trailer. When I am not riding my Pro Stock Bike and I have
a little time on my hands, I am going bracket racing and I don't
care where it is. Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Florida,
I don't care where it is, I am going racing and I am going to
get more seat time. Last year I made about 160-170 passes total.
That includes Pro Stock Bike and bracket racing. I did bracket
race four times last year. But this year I would like to get
300-400 passes under my belt. That's how it used to be. I used
to make at least 300 passes a year. I would be out racing every
Friday and Saturday night. I raced my guts out. That's what
Q: How does bracket
racing help you in your Pro Stock Bike events?
TREBLE: Seat time
is very important. But I will tell you another thing that is
crucial. Even on a Friday night, the $10 gambler is good for
you. Nothing is better than seat time and competition rounds.
You're a different animal when money is on the line and it all
matters. You get more focused and sometimes you act a little
differently towards the tree or whatever. Competition rounds
is awesome and helps you perform better on race day.
Q: What's the biggest
difference between bracket racing and Pro Stock Bike drag racing?
TREBLE: The actual
racing? I think bracket racing is tougher. There are two ends
to bracket racing. You have to tear that tree down and then
you have to race on the other end, you have to hang a wheel
on somebody. Or dump them. You have to make some split decisions
at the top end. Pro Stock Bike racing? You try to hit the tree,
but you are more focused on trying to hit your shift points
and being smooth. So there are a lot of things going through
your mind at the starting line and sometimes you are not always
on the tree. Sometimes you set the clutch up differently for
certain track conditions and your reaction times suffer. As
far as going down the track, you are focused on your shift points
in Pro Stock Bike racing. In bracket racing, you have to ask
yourself whether you hit the tree or missed the tree. If you
missed the tree, you have to feed that guy the stripe. You want
to dump him because you don't want to breakout, but maybe you
make him breakout. There are a lot of things going on in your
mind. It's easier going down track because the shift points
are coming so much slower and they are easy to hit and the bike
is always going to go straight because it is so slow compared
to the Pro Stock. But there are a lot of things going through
your mind relating to the top end.
Q: Describe yourself
in two words:
TREBLE: Hungry racer.
Q: What do you want
to accomplish in 2003?
TREBLE: I think that
is pretty simple. I want a POWERade championship. That is what
Matco Tools wants, that's what we want. That's what everyone
wants. That is why everyone is out here chasing that rainbow.
Q: What advantages
does your team have over the rest of the competition?
TREBLE: We've got,
I think, the best sponsor in the class. Matco Tools has sponsored
us from day one since they came on three years ago. We have
Matco Tools as a company and all of their 1,300 distributors
out there supporting us from all over the country. Every race
we go to we have our own cheering section. Those guys are great.
Q: What were your
offseason goals and did you accomplish them?
TREBLE: This year
we worked hard in the offseason because we have another new
chassis from (Sandy) Kosman and we have two new bullets coming
from Vance & Hines. We completed the bracket bike, we got the
old bike ready to do some preaseson testing and got that into
race shape just in case the new bike isn't ready to go down
the track in Gainesville. We are still working on everything.
We have tried to avoid having to thrash on the new bike the
week of the race. Last year we were testing the day before qualifying
in Gainesville. The new chassis we have coming from Kosman is
pretty awesome and we will do whatever it takes to get the bike
ready to race.
Q: Why did you get
involved with racing in the first place?
TREBLE: I was brought
up by a relative that raced motorcycles in the early '70s when
the Z-1s came out for the first time. He took me out there when
I was a young kid and kind of stuck that needle in my arm. Unfortunately
I was too young to do it at the time. I raced bicycle motocross
until I was almost 20 years old. I had a lot of fun, it kept
me out of trouble, it kept me focused and I got hooked on racing.
When I got old enough to start drag racing, I did. I was addicted
from the start.
Q: Will we see the
first six-second run in Pro Stock Bike history this year?
TREBLE: You might.
Gainesville or Englishtown, maybe even Reading if it doesn't
happen early on in the season. Angelle went the (7.049) in Englishtown,
but I will tell you that I was in the other lane during that
run and I ran an .09, which was my personal best. It doesn't
sound like we are that far off, but you have to keep in mind
that those conditions when we both ran those numbers, which
was the fastest side-by-side bike race ever, those conditions
were absolutely perfect. We had tailwind, we had a barometer
that was out of this world. It was overcast, it was 65 degrees
and the humidity was low. It was perfect. You have to hit those
conditions again to hit that 6.999. It might be the girl, it
might be someone else, it might be us. Who knows? I'm not really
worried about it. It would be a nice feather in your cap and
$10,000 in your pocket (for being the first member of the Mickey
Thompson 6-Second Club) but we are after the POWERade points
championship and that's what we are focused on.
Q: What is the best
thing about going into 2003 after the year you had in '02?
TREBLE: We know we
had a career year, but we also know that we can do better. In
fact, the best thing is knowing that we could have done better
last year and that's what makes us strive to prove it this season.
That is the beautiful part about drag racing. You can take a
guy like Warren Johnson. Has he ever had the perfect pass? Absolutely
not. I guarantee that. There is always room for improvement
in drag racing. Everybody is working for that. You can ask Angelle
about her .049 pass that she made and I guarantee she won't
say it was a perfect pass. Everybody will tell you that even
on his or her personal-best runs, there was something that could
have been better.
Q: What is the key
to keeping your sponsor happy and how have you maintained that
TREBLE: I am a people
person. I like people and that doesn't hurt. Performance on
the track is obviously going to be a big aide in your sponsorship
program, but you have got to take care of those people. You
have go out like we do on the (Matco Tools company) trucks and
meet the people who sell and use the actual products and thank
them. You also have to take care of the media and keep yourself
visible. There is a lot to maintaining a good sponsor. There
are a lot of people who are out there trying to find sponsorship.
I was so lucky when I got hooked up with Matco. I didn't have
a PR guy, I didn't have anything. Calvin and I were just two
good 'ol boys from Chandler, Arizona out there racing. I was
spending every penny I had in racing and I was thinking I wouldn't
have enough money to retire until I was 682 years old. Then
Matco came on board and things got a lot better. Things were
tough before that. We were just in the right place at the right
time. The sponsorship gods fell upon us that day.
Q: Describe your relationship
with your crew chief.
TREBLE: The Iceman?
If you watch him on TV, you will see that he never shows emotion.
I have seen him do one interview, he just hates talking. Calvin
likes to speak with his actions and he does that. He does an
awesome job and he is very focused. He is the silent but deadly
type and I am the vocal obnoxious one. Calvin and I think alike
- as far as the racing goes anyway. As far as life in general,
Calvin usually looks at me and rolls his eyes. When we are out
here, under the Matco Tools canopy working on this bike, we
are thinking the same things all the time. Half the time we
don't have to talk to each other. He does what I was thinking
and I do things he was thinking. We do communicate, don't get
me wrong, but most of the time it is very smooth working between
Q: What is your dream
race? Where are you racing and who do you beat to get the victory?
wants to win the U.S. Nationals. It is a Mac Tools race and
I am a Matco kind of guy. But we went to the final round last
year of the Matco Tools race in Englishtown and most of the
distributors of the company are at that race. It's a huge Matco
event and everyone comes out of the woodwork for that event.
To win that race, I am getting goosebumps right now just thinking
about it. To win that race would just be awesome. Englishtown
first and the U.S. Nationals would be second on my list of dream
races, but they are real close to each other. I would want to
race whoever is sponsored by Mac Tools, and beat them for the
Q: What do you do
TREBLE: Why does everyone
keep asking me that? To be honest, not much. I eat, breathe
and sleep this racing stuff. If I am not working on the bike,
or washing the truck or reorganizing the trailer or bracket
racing or anything like that, I am watching TV and that happens
about twice a year. This is a full-time job. I worked in construction
for 15 years before I got into racing full-time to the point
where I'm at right now. I am working harder now than when I
had to carry around a 70-pound tool bag on my back, climbing
up and down a wall. I used to be a carpenter and I worked my
tail off. It paid well and I was in great shape. It was an awesome
experience. It was always a satisfying thing to be able to walk
away from the job, look at what you did and be happy with the
results. This drag racing thing is very hard work. There is
always something that can be done and I love it. I would do
it for free, I love it so much. I did race for free for a lot
of years. I'm getting paid pretty good right now to do what
I love by Matco and all of our associates and I consider myself
to be an extremely lucky guy. There are about 10 million racers
out there who would kill to do what I am doing and I am just
fortunate enough to get out of bed, have goosebumps and pinch
Q: Would you like
to see the Pro Stock Bike schedule expand from the current 15-race
TREBLE: Yes, I want
to race at all 23 national events. I don't get enough racing
as it is. I would like to have about four more guys on the crew
preparing the bikes with a killer shop in the Midwest. Unfortunately
that is a Top Fuel budget and that is not realistic for a bike
team right now. Maybe one day it will be. If we get all 23 events
and get a little bit more TV time then corporations will step
up and start throwing more money at us because I think we give
them a good bang for their buck. More companies need to step
up and start sponsoring these Pro Stock Bike teams. We are professional
racers, we put on a good show and you can see that in the way
the spectator count went up 10 percent in Sonoma (Calif.) this
year when we showed up at that race for the first time. Obviously
the fans like it and we love it. It will happen one day, and
we will be at every national event. Hopefully it will happen
during my professional career.