Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki rider Eddie Krawiec raced into the semi-finals and jumped up three spots in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown to the Championship standings at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis on Sunday.
After qualifying his Suzuki Hayabusa in the third starting position with a 6.745-second/199.88 mph run, Krawiec rode a wave of speed through the early elimination rounds and into the semi-finals. In making the semi-finals, Krawiec moved into fourth place in the Countdown to the Championship standings as the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship enters its crucial final three-race stretch.
Krawiec easily cruised past Jianna Evaristo in Round 1 of eliminations, running a 6.821-second/199.61 mph pass to her 7.082-second/160.94 mph run. In the second round, Krawiec knocked off Ron Tornow (no time) with a 6.748-second/200.29 mph pass, sending him into the semi-finals against Jerry Savoie. Despite running a slightly quicker 6.777-second/198.82 mph pass, his 0.046-second reaction time deficit at the starting line turned into a holeshot loss to Savoie, who ran 6.818-seconds at 197.10 mph.
“It was good to move up in the points, but it’s a bittersweet deal,” Krawiec said. “I’ve got a great motorcycle and definitely made progress all weekend. It shows the potential, but the big thing is we’re struggling to get the bike to react off the starting line. There’s a fine balance in the clutch setup. The initial clutch pressure is very sensitive. You can tune the motorcycle to react quickly off the starting line, or you can tune it to have better 60-foot times or better elapsed times. We’re only talking hundredths of a second, but the time to learn is over and we don’t have that time anymore. To lose races like that is not good. We have to work on making the bike react better.”
Setting strong elapsed time and speed marks on the Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki team’s second Suzuki Hayabusa, Angelle Sampey qualified in the number two starting spot with a 6.726-second/201.67 mph blast that briefly reset the track’s top speed record on Friday evening. In Round 1, she knocked off Malcolm Phillips Jr. with a 6.734-second/201.52 run against his tire-spinning 12.313-second/68.66 mph pass. But a holeshot loss to fellow Louisianan Jerry Savoie ended Sampey’s weekend in Round 2, with her 6.763-second/198.52 mph effort falling short of his 6.786-second/198.82 mph run in part due to a 0.097-second starting line reaction time.
“My motorcycle was running well, and I was doing a good job on my reaction times up until the second round. I went up, felt the same way, and thought I did the same thing, but it came up 97. I was just late,” Sampey said. “I’ve been working hard at home practicing my reaction times. I’m trying to cut between a 30 and a 50 light every time I pop the clutch. I’ve been doing that 100 times a day and I’m going to continue doing it. I’m not really focused on points or a championship, which of course is what we all want and that’s definitely what I want. My focus is on continuing to improve and do the best I can do and take it one round at a time. That’s the way to get a championship. Anything can still happen in the next three races. I want everybody to be at their best because to be the best, you must beat the best, but I could use a little luck on my side every now and then as well.”
Crew Chief Andrew Hines conceded that both of the team’s motorcycles are struggling to get off the starting line consistently for different reasons, which will be the focus of his attention when the team arrives at the Stampede of Speed at Texas Motorplex in Dallas for a pre-race test session ahead of the Texas NHRA FallNationals in two weeks.
“Our Suzukis are where they need to be speed-wise; we’ve just got to get our reaction times dialed in. I had Angelle’s bike set up to cut competitive lights, but she just missed it there in the second round. It’s unfortunate for Eddie because his reaction time losses this year aren’t mostly due to him. His bike really is only capable of going 40 on the tree,” Hines said. “We’re in a big hole right now, but we’ll move on from here to Dallas. They do a great job promoting their event and put on a heck of a show for a full week. There’s a test session for the Pro Stock bikes and cars, so we’ll get some free shots at the racetrack ahead of the weekend and continue to get the bikes dialed in. We’ll take part in all the festivities and kind of reset. Hopefully, the riders can take their mind off the championship for a few days, get some good test laps under their belt and come out swinging when it’s race time.”
With three rounds remaining in the Countdown to the Championship, Krawiec and Sampey currently sit in fourth and seventh positions with 2,184 and 2,174 points, respectively.
The Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki team will be back in action Oct. 13-16 at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. The 2022 Pro Stock Motorcycle season concludes Nov. 10-13 at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
For the latest Suzuki team news, race reports, and information visit SuzukiCycles.com/Racing/Drag-Racing.