Reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec has had boundless success in his decade of racing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. But it was his first win at his hometown track, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, last season that put the icing on the cake for the three-time NHRA world champion.
“To finally win at Englishtown was a huge pressure off my back,” Krawiec said. “Back in 2009, I made it to the final there against Craig Treble, and I played it a little too safe on the Tree. I came up [with a reaction time of .061], and Treble came up [.007] and ended up taking the win by just a few [thousandths of a second]. That killed me because it would have been my first career win, and to have happened at my home track would have been huge. I thought maybe I let that win get away from me, but luckily enough in 2012, I had an awesome motorcycle going into the race. Qualifying went killer for me, and I pretty much had my way in eliminations. Hector [Arana] Sr. went red to me in the final, and I took the win. I told people, ‘Now that I’ve sealed the deal here, I can move forward in my career.’ Even to this day, it puts a smile on my face.”
Krawiec will try to claim his second win at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park May 30-June 2 at the 44th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Along with Krawiec, Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) will be looking to defend their 2012 victories at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2HD.
The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider’s history with the famed track begins well before he started taking home coveted Wallys and championship titles. Krawiec grew up in Englishtown and was the track manager at Raceway Park before beginning his professional racing career as a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in 2004.
“It’s my old stomping ground, I guess you’d say,” Krawiec said of the legendary track. “My first pass down the track was in a street car. I think I went 14.12. That was my first-ever run down the quarter-mile, and ever since that day, it’s been full steam ahead and trying to go as fast as I can every single lap.”
This season, Krawiec finds himself tied for the fourth spot with Arana in the points standings, with his best effort being a runner-up finish in Charlotte. He remains confident going into familiar turf this weekend.
“I’m confident we’ve got a great team behind us, great support from Harley-Davidson and Vance & Hines and all the other suppliers and vendors that help us,” said Krawiec, who holds both ends of the Pro Stock Motorcycle track record at Raceway Park (6.782, 197.48). “Being my home track, I have a lot of friends and family [there]. I have a lot of history at that track as a racer, I used to be employed there, and it goes back to when I grew up. I’m looking forward to heading home.”
Krawiec has faced new season challenges, but the Englishtown fan favorite is focused on continuing to ride like a champ.
“The way I look at it is I just need to continue to ride well, and as long as I’m riding well and we continue to make improvements on our end, it’ll continue to get better,” the 2012 Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion said. “Coming into the season, we had a whole new combination, and I knew there were going to be some challenges. We’ll start to turn our program around in the coming races. The key is we need to be in the top 10 coming out of Indy to have a shot for those final six [Countdown to the Championship] races.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle season has been dominated by Hector Arana Jr., who has raced to three victories aboard his Lucas Oil Buell, but the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson tandem of Krawiec and three-time world champ Andrew Hines are eager to put an end to that streak. Surging Scotty Pollacheck, veteran Suzuki rider Steve Johnson, Arana Sr., and John Hall are among the top contenders for the NHRA Wally in the two-wheel category at the event.
Top Fuel will feature intense racing action, with Chesterfield, N.J., native and defending world champ Antron Brown vying for his first Top Fuel victory at the track to supplement his two Pro Stock Motorcycle wins there. Tony Schumacher, Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, two-time season winner Shawn Langdon, and Brandon Bernstein will also be looking for wins at the tradition-rich event.
In Funny Car, defending event winner Gray and Cruz Pedregon are the early leading championship contenders after claiming multiple wins. Matt Hagan is showing renewed success, and defending world champ Jack Beckman, Robert Hight, and Courtney Force will try to add their names to the NHRA record book as Englishtown winners. Four-time E-town winner John Force, 2006 winner Ron Capps, two-time winner Del Worsham, and 2008 winner Tim Wilkerson will all be working to get another victory at the legendary track.
Pro Stock is again proving to be one of the toughest categories in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, with winners and losers separated by only hundredths of a second during many of the eliminations rounds. Mike Edwards has the points lead on the strength of two wins, but Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson are breathing down his neck in second and third. Jason Line, Erica Enders-Stevens, and defending event winner Anderson, who has the most Pro Stock wins at the track (five), also will be competing for the coveted NHRA Wally Sunday.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. While visiting the pits, fans won’t want to miss the interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway, two popular areas.
The race also will feature exciting side-by-side racing action in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:15 p.m. Friday, May 31, and will continue Saturday, June 1, at noon and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 2.
• TICKETS: For tickets, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, 732-446-7800, or log on towww.racewaypark.com.
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. ET Saturday, June 1, and two hours and 30 minutes of eliminations coverage at 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, June 2