Five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Andrew Hines earned his second straight victory, third overall of 2019, and 51st in his career after going 6.865 at 195.05 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to defeat Jerry Savoie in the final round at the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
It also marked the 100th career win for Harley-Davidson in the class, a streak that Hines started with his first career victory in 2004. He’s made 91 finals in his career, including all four so far this year. Hines blames himself for Harley not reaching the milestone sooner. “If I had my head on straight (early in his career), we’d have been there a lot quicker,” Andrew said candidly.
It was another noteworthy accomplishment for Hines, who became the first rider to claim 50 wins in the class last weekend and has three victories in four races to open the 2019 Pro Stock Motorcycle season.
Class points leader Hines, who now has three wins at Atlanta Dragway, beat Melissa Surber, Ryan Oehler and Hector Arana Jr. to reach the final round.
“It was a good day and my motorcycle is nothing like I’ve ever had in my career,” said Hines, who’s ridden “eight or nine different chassis” in his Harley PSM career. “This new chassis that was concocted by Matt Hines and Mike Mullaney at the shop—we all put our two cents in—is working really, really good and doesn’t do much wrong.”
Hines pointed out that all three Harleys (his, Eddie Krawiec’s and Angelle Sampey’s) were in the top five in 60 foots all weekend—a rare and ominous achievement for the dominating brand which has been known more for top end grunt than starting line quickness.
“I had 1.06s all through eliminations today. The bike was just dropping chalk line all the way down the track. It didn’t quiver the tire in first gear, it didn’t do anything but accelerate, hook up the 1-2, and have the front wheel up for about 400 feet and drop it down again. In the final round we even had a 1.05. We out 60 footed Jerry and Kulungian (Tim Kulungian, Savoie’s tuner).” Hines said that the bike ran some 1.04s in testing. “We’re running a clutch totally different from anything we’ve run in the past and it’s totally working for us. The bike’s probably suffering a little on reaction time because of that, but it’s working really well. We could probably line up out on the return road out here and it would leave the line.”
Hines also notes a fall-off in 60 foot amongst bikes across the board. He said that what some people call NHRA’s current “no-prep prep” doesn’t really affect his bike, the Harleys, or bikes in general. “The starting line is still pretty good, and we don’t really need a tight top end. We just don’t like bumps.”
Hines admitted to wavering a bit on the success of his tune-up throughout raceday but—after consulting with Krawiec—nailed it in the final. “That’s when I can put a big smile on my face, because my dad (Byron) hates it when we miss the tune-up in the final—even if we win. So it was nice to put low ET of the day up there.
“All in all, it was a fantastic day. To get 100 wins for Harley-Davidson, it’s monumental. It was a very big struggle at first, and there’s been trials and tribulations, but it’s really nice to get the 100th.”
Hines asked Krawiec if he thought they’d see 200 wins for the brand. “Not with me on the bike!” responded Krawiec.
“We’ve both talked about retiring,” said Hines. “But right now we’re just riding this wave.”
Savoie knocked off Cory Reed, Steve Johnson and Krawiec en route to the finals, with holeshot wins over Johnson and Krawiec. “It was hard to cut a light here,” said Hines. “I was leaving (with the clutch) on my fingertips just trying to get into the .20s, and the best I had was a .032.”
Savoie only had .002 at the tree on Hines in the final, which left his 6.919 at 193 around 5/100ths short. “We picked up a few numbers (3/100ths from the semi), but it wasn’t enough,” said White Alligator Racing (WAR) tuner Tim Kulungian.
“We have to work harder than everybody else,” Savoie said about his team and the other Suzuki teams. “We have to do everything perfect to have a chance, and they still smokin’ us on the back half.”
“We have to beat them to the 330 to have any chance,” said Kulungian.
Savoie qualified 5th with a 6.901 at 193 mph.
Matt Smith was befuddled by the “strength” of his uncharacteristic -.057 redlight. “I don’t know,” he said. “The video showed then lights goin’ amber, then the bike moved, so I don’t know.”
Then Matt went on to talk about MSR’s fall down the 60 foot charts. “The bike just can’t 60 foot,” Matt. “The gear ratios I’ve been running all these last several years aren’t working with the extra 15 pounds. I’m just gonna have to start over.”
“We always suck in Atlanta,” Angie chimed in. She and teammate Scotty Pollacheck also retired in the first round. “Matt hasn’t won a round here in seven years. I should have told Scotty not to even show up to this race.”
Pollacheck then described the Suzuki shredfest here for the team he ran with last year—Stoffer/Underdahl. “We sent seven motors back to Vance & Hines after this race,” said Scotty.
Chris Clontz figured he’d have gotten a little more out of his wife Kelly’s Suzuki on raceday if he’d adjusted the gearing for the morning’s headwind. “Not that we’d have had anything for Eddie Krawiec, but it would have been nice to have done better than the 7.06,” said Chris. He noted that they were using their secondary motor this weekend, and that Kelly treed Eddie by .021.
Saturday, I was talking to Cecil Towner under the tower here in Atlanta. Listening to the PA, Cecil says “Damn, that guy sounds just like Fabian!”
I said “It IS Fabian!”
From Fabian to Cecil to Chris Clontz and Kelly Clontz, Joey and Skip Gladstone, Matt and Angie Smith, Eddie Krawiec, Scotty Pollacheck—it’s great to see so many racers I’ve covered in other series racing at this level.
NHRA and NHRApsm social media superstar Natalie Jahnke paid me the ultimate compliment today. “You have the best personality,” said Natalie. “I really appreciate the wit in your posts. They make mine seem so vanilla. I need to add a little more of your chocolate to my vanilla.”
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 9.709, 87.09 def. Matt Smith, Foul – Red Light; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.916, 192.38 def. Cory Reed, 7.018, 191.00; Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.927, 195.59 def. Joey Gladstone, 6.953, 192.08; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 7.129, 157.45 def. Hector Arana, Foul – Red Light; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.958, 190.00 def. Angie Smith, 6.987, 192.28; Hector Arana Jr, 6.974, 192.88 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.028, 189.76; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.917, 195.53 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.068, 190.11; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 194.80 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.011, 189.82;
QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.919, 194.49 def. Sampey, 7.264, 145.42; Savoie, 6.938, 187.96 def. Johnson, 6.918, 192.25; Krawiec, 6.901, 195.22 def. Stoffer, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.881, 194.41 def. Oehler, 6.957, 194.80;
SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.951, 192.77 def. Krawiec, 6.930, 194.07; Hines, 6.897, 193.99 def. Arana Jr, 6.913, 192.77;
FINAL — Hines, 6.865, 195.05 def. Savoie, 6.919, 193.65.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points
1. Andrew Hines, 444; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 366; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 356; 4. Matt Smith, 237; 5. Jerry Savoie, 233; 6. Ryan Oehler, 211; 7. Karen Stoffer, 204; 8. Joey Gladstone, 170; 9. Hector Arana, 169; 10. Angie Smith, 168.
Mike Castellana claimed his second victory in three years at Atlanta Dragway in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service on Sunday, winning the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals, where the series was presented by FuelTech. It is the fourth of 12 races during the 2019 season.
Castellana ran 5.825-seconds at 248.29 mph in his supercharged Al-Anabi Performance Chevrolet Camaro, picking up the final-round win when Jose Gonzalez suffered a red-light start.
It marks the ninth career E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod victory for Castellana, who qualified ninth and also earned round wins over Brandon Snider, Jeremy Ray and defending world champion Mike Janis, running a 5.809 at 248.48 in the semifinals.
“I knew everything would come together, but I didn’t expect it this quick,” said Castellana, who failed to qualify at the first three races of the season. “(Crew chief) Frank (Manzo) and my team do a great job. We feel real confident now. We’re making progress with the car and we’ll be ready for Virginia.”
I had a great talk with Warren Johnson alongside the Pro Mod cars. I told him I wasn’t at all excited about that Gainesville legends deal until he made it interesting, and that I never would have guessed a factory Camry could run that quick. “I could have gotten into the 13s with that car if they’d given me another day,” said The Professor. “It’s got more tricks than my Z06. They have this thing called a mountain parking brake—it’s a line lock!”
I asked Warren if he thought he’d be interested in Factory Stock Showdown. “Too boring,” he frowned.
“What about these cars?” I said, motioning to the Pro Mods.
“Now THAT would be exciting!”
Indeed it would WJ, hope to see it happen.
ROUND ONE — Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.883, 248.11 def. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 6.016, 239.14; Doug Winters, Chevy Chevelle, 5.874, 247.25 def. Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.903, 248.75; Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.803, 247.75 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.997, 202.52; Jeremy Ray, Corvette, 9.778, 89.19 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Chad Green, Camaro, 5.816, 250.37 def. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 7.499, 158.58; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.844, 249.86 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.397, 232.19; Mike Janis, Camaro, 6.278, 200.14 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 12.181, 71.45; Sidnei Frigo, Camaro, 5.853, 254.47 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.062, 252.57; QUARTERFINALS — Castellana, 5.851, 247.25 def. Ray, 6.717, 145.99; Gonzalez, 7.965, 133.54 def.
Frigo, Foul – Red Light; Janis, 5.856, 247.07 def. Tutterow, 7.917, 120.63; Winters, 6.044, 223.91 def. Green, Foul – Centerline; SEMIFINALS — Castellana, 5.809, 248.48 def. Janis, 5.860, 240.98; Gonzalez, 5.865, 254.71 def. Winters, Broke – No Show;
FINAL — Castellana, 5.825, 248.29 def. Gonzalez, Foul – Red Light.
Pro Modified points
1. Steve Jackson, 334; 2. Todd Tutterow, 333; 3. Mike Janis, 301; 4. Jose Gonzalez, 274; 5. Jeremy Ray, 222; 6. Chad Green, 207; 7. Rickie Smith, 202; 8. Steven Whiteley, 178; 9. Erica Enders, 177; 10. Sidnei Frigo, 160.
Steve Torrence, whose first career Top Fuel win came in Atlanta in 2012, used his 3.863-second pass at 320.20 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to defeat Brittany Force’s 3.989 at 274.00 in a final round matchup that featured the top two qualifiers of the weekend and the two most recent Top Fuel world champs. It is the 29th career win for the Top Fuel points leader and third at the track.
Torrence, who became the first repeat winner in the class this season, also picked up round wins against Luigi Novelli, Scott Palmer and Shawn Reed to earn his second victory in three years at Georgia’s House of Speed.
“When you have a group of guys that sticks together and that continuity is there, that’s the reason for success,” Torrence said. “As a driver, I need to do my job and give them the best driving ability I possible can because they’re giving me the best race car they possibly can. My guys are second to none and I would put them up against anybody out here. We went down the track every time we needed to and we’ve had a really good car. It’s really cool to have Arby’s out here and be the first guy to ever win the Arby’s Southern Nationals.”
Force, the No. 1 qualifier, reached the final round with wins against Cameron Ferre, Antron Brown and Jordan Vandergriff.
ROUND ONE — Jordan Vandergriff, 3.817, 286.80 def. Pat Dakin, Foul – Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.771, 323.89 def. Clay Millican, 3.779, 320.89; Brittany Force, 3.887, 316.08 def. Cameron Ferre, 12.284, 61.95; Shawn Reed, 3.856, 320.13 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.208, 254.18; Dom Lagana, 3.819, 319.98 def. Austin Prock, 3.849, 321.42; Steve Torrence, 3.782, 319.60 def. Luigi Novelli, 3.940, 274.66; Leah Pritchett, 3.812, 317.79 def. Audrey Worm, 4.008, 289.88; Scott Palmer, 3.971, 265.85 def. Richie Crampton, 4.431, 180.60;
QUARTERFINALS — Reed, 4.232, 265.74 def. Lagana, 7.933, 83.31; Vandergriff, 3.871, 313.15 def. Pritchett, 3.898, 306.95; Torrence, 4.043, 263.41 def. Palmer, 8.919, 86.97; Force, 3.843, 314.83 def. Brown, 3.888, 299.33;
SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.876, 318.17 def. Reed, 3.864, 315.78; Force, 3.893, 309.20 def. Vandergriff, 4.630, 165.05;
FINAL — Torrence, 3.863, 320.20 def. Force, 3.989, 274.00.
Top Fuel points
1. Steve Torrence, 579; 2. Brittany Force, 483; 3. Doug Kalitta, 464; 4. Leah Pritchett, 433; 5. Clay Millican, 427; 6. Mike Salinas, 384; 7. Antron Brown, 373; 8. Richie Crampton, 329; 9. Terry McMillen, 319; 10. Austin Prock, 288.
In Funny Car, Capps secured his first win of the 2019 season in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, going 4.068 at 315.34 to win on a holeshot against Tim Wilkerson’s 4.052 at 310.05 in the final round. It also gives Capps his 62nd career victory, continuing his impressive string of 11 straight seasons with at least one win.
Capps beat Shawn Langdon, John Force and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach the final round, earning his third career win at Atlanta Dragway.
“An average race car driver could have probably won in that car today,” said Capps, whose first win with crew chief Rahn Tobler came in Atlanta in 2012. “This was a car you dream about driving. Rahn Tobler pulled out the vintage Rahn Tobler, and that just gave me more and more confidence. It was just amazing and to get a Hellcat win was huge.”
Wilkerson beat Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III and points leader Robert Hight to reach the finals.
ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.963, 321.12 def. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 5.753, 121.59; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.942, 310.91 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.681, 122.10; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.696, 172.94 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, Foul – Red Light; John Force, Camaro, 3.994, 327.74 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.040, 312.78; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.020, 314.97 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.406, 231.44; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.076, 315.78 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.414, 202.09; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.037, 309.84 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.113, 287.35; Paul Lee, Camry, 6.348, 102.03 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, Broke;
QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 5.595, 231.79 def. Tasca III, 6.885, 128.97; Hight, 4.376, 279.90 def. Lee, 4.967, 169.61; Capps, 4.022, 317.57 def. Force, 4.312, 220.80; Johnson Jr., 4.334, 218.62 def. Todd, 10.638, 76.09;
SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 4.084, 313.66 def. Hight, 4.182, 258.02; Capps, 4.071, 317.19 def. Johnson Jr., 4.091, 310.27;
FINAL — Capps, 4.068, 315.34 def. Wilkerson, 4.052, 310.05.
Funny Car points
1. Robert Hight, 663; 2. Matt Hagan, 472; 3. John Force, 470; 4. J.R. Todd, 456; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 445; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 436; 7. Ron Capps, 430; 8. Jack Beckman, 425; 9. Shawn Langdon, 365; 10. Bob Tasca III, 338.
Competition Eliminator — Craig Bourgeois, Dragster, 6.858, 188.15 def. Brian Browell, Dragster, 7.328, 181.11.
Super Stock — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 9.858, 134.02 def. Brandon Bakies, Camaro, 9.676, 137.12.
Stock Eliminator — Chip Johnson, Chey Camaro, 10.721, 96.96 def. Jeff Warren, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.
Super Comp — Trene Cressonie, Dragster, 8.881, 178.57 def. Shannon Brinkley, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.
Super Gas — Jim Perry, Chevy S-10, 9.894, 167.68 def. Rich Price, Chevy Corvette, 9.893, 165.99.
Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com — Clint Riley, Dragster, 7.412, 184.37 def. Steve Cohen, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues May 17-19 with the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va.
story by Tim Hailey and NHRA, photos by Hailey