Races within a race seem to work in Andrew Hines’ favor.
Hines, a five-time world champion, (2004-2006, 2014-15), won his seventh all-star event, taking the title at the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at the Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals Saturday.
Hines clocked a 6.912-second elapsed time at 193.24 mph to defeat Eddie Krawiec’s 7.016-second lap in the finals.
“(Saturday) was hot,” Hines said. “It was a big change over (Friday). You’re putting leathers on up there and it doesn’t quite slide around like it does when it’s a nice 75 degrees. This weekend, knowing we had these conditions coming in here, we had a tune-up we knew we could expect to rely on and luckily my guys work really hard in the heat and they work really hard in the cold. They just make sure it is as right as it could possibly be.”
Prior to ousting his Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec in the finals, Hines beat Hector Arana Jr. and Matt Smith.
The 2019 Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle pitted the top eight riders in the class competing against each other for a $25,000 prize. Matt Smith won the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle a year ago.
“Racing through this year and racing here at the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, I had my focus on,” Hines said. “This is one of those events, I’ve always been the guy to put too much pressure on myself, earlier in my career, thinking about what could we win today? Now, you take the points out of the equation and it always kind of worked out for me and it was no different (Saturday).
I treated it like qualifying rounds, and it is just cool that your win light comes on and you get to celebrate because of it. I thank Mickey Thompson for supporting this Pro Bike Battle the last three years. It has been phenomenal. They are great partner for the entire class. They do so much great promotion for us and we are just able to pay back the favor with whatever we can. I put a brand-new Mickey Thompson tire on my Harley this weekend just to get it groomed in through qualifying and I knew I needed as much traction (Saturday) as possible for the heat and it worked out great. I’m just riding the wave.”
The tire flip to pick the pairings for the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle is something Hines enjoyed.
“That was fun,” Hines said. “It wasn’t something where you’re sitting back at home looking at points throughout these coming races and seeing where everybody was going to land and who you were going to qualify against. There’s was no pressure until that moment when you flipped that tire. I flipped four and then Hector (Arana) Jr. comes out and flips four right next to me. Well, here we go. He ran 200 mph first, so you can’t take him lightly. It was a fun deal. The class got together with NHRA and figured out what we could do different. Mickey Thompson was on board with it to try something new and maybe something to come. We might do something different next year come this Battle. We might try something a little more in your face.”
Hines’ performance Saturday is a microcosm of his season. He has won six races and has appeared in seven finals in eight races in 2019.
After going winless in 2018, Hines has been dominant this season, counting the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, he has a 28-2 elimination round record. Hines has beat Krawiec six times in the finals this season.
“I’m rooting for him as much as I’m rooting for myself,” Hines said about racing Krawiec. “I want our Harleys as fast and formidable as possible. We got mine right there and his is just that one little tick off and we keep kicking ourselves because we can’t find it. We are going to tear these bikes apart the next couple of hours and try and make sure he’s on par for (Sunday).”
Since debut of the FXDR body for the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver last weekend, Hines has a 7-0 record in elimination rounds.
“We never stop tinkering,” Hines said. “They never go down the track the same one run to the next. We will look at the weather for (Sunday) and it looks like it is going to be a fair bit cooler, six to seven degrees, which is big in the engine aspect of the thing and we will just pick away at it a little bit more. We still have really good notes for these conditions if you look at Richmond (Va.) and Chicago where we were going fast and had these types of conditions. The bad thing here (in Sonoma) is that darn wind. You can be leaving your trailer with a tailwind and you roll into the staging lanes around the corner and it is a head wind in your face. It is hard to change gearing in a real hurry.”
Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle — Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.912, 193.24 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.016, 191.19.
Final round-by-round results from the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle from the 32nd annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. The race is special race within a race.
ROUND ONE — Matt Smith, 6.850, 198.82 def. Ryan Oehler, 6.887, 196.87; Angie Smith, 6.916, 196.70 def. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.974, 188.17; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 197.05 def. Hector Arana, 6.910, 195.36; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.829, 197.74 def. Hector Arana Jr, Broke;
SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.966, 192.85 def. A. Smith, Broke; Hines, 6.907, 193.60 def. M. Smith, 6.909, 195.73;
FINAL — Hines, 6.912, 193.24 def. Krawiec, 7.016, 191.19.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019