Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines' Andrew Hines padded his Pro Stock Motorcycle championship lead with a win in the final round at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
"This was a big win for the Screamin' Eagle team," Hines said after beating Nitro Fish Suzuki's LE Tonglet in the final. "We leave here with a little cushion in the championship race, up by 3.5 rounds with eight rounds left to go. Now we have two weeks off to go home and see the family, and find a little more power in the V-Rod."
Hines made a pair of brilliant starts to get the win. First he cut a light nearly a tenth faster than teammate Eddie Krawiec in the semis. Hines' reaction time was .039 sec. while Krawiec was .130. The difference at the other end of the strip was .084 sec. in Hines' favor, even though Krawiec had the faster trap speed, 192.11 mph to 190.97 mph.
Hines' opponent in the final, Nitro Fish Suzuki's LE Tonglet, won his semi by beating Matt Smith (Al-Anabi Racing Buell) off the line by .010 sec., then used a speed edge to defeat him at the finish 6.881 secs. to 7.002 secs. Tonglet's finishing speed of 192.85 mph was more than five mph faster than Smith's.
For the fourth race in a row, three-time class champion Hines, who has 40 career finals appearances, and the 20-year-old rookie Tonglet faced off in the finals. Surprisingly, it was Tonglet, with only six career final round appearances, who'd won the the previous three meetings in Indianapolis, Charlotte, and Dallas, but this would be different.
Hines had the much faster light, a .020 to .043 for Tonglet, and won the race, even though he had a higher ET, 6.916 secs. to 6.913 secs.
"Well, we finally got by that blue bike," said Hines. "As has been the case in the past couple of races, we were losing horsepower as the day went on, but (crew chief) Matt Hines has got the clutch tuned just right. My hole shot is really consistent, and the bike is easy to ride round after round, which is great for my confidence."
Hines now leads Tonglet by 74 points, 2566 points to 2494, after four of six events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Only two rounds remain, the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals (Oct. 28-31) and the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals (Nov. 11-14). Eddie Krawiec (Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines), who's been mathematically eliminated from title contention, is third with 2351 points.