For the fifth straight year, a Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod claimed the $25,000 top prize in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle as Eddie Krawiec earned his first victory in NHRA competition with a final-round victory against his Vance & Hines teammate Andrew Hines, who fouled.
"Two years ago, I was an unknown and [team owners] Terry Vance and Byron Hines took a chance on me," said Krawiec. "They've made me feel like family, and I'm so glad that I was finally able to pay them back with a victory. This is huge for our team. Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 105th anniversary this weekend, so this couldn't have come at a better time.
"I know that I still haven't won a national event, but I'm not disappointed," Krawiec continued. "I'm good friends with [fellow rider] Reggie Showers, and he's been a big inspiration to me. He had never won a race, and then a few years ago, he came here to Indy and won this [Ringers Battle] and then won the U.S. Nationals on Monday. If I can do that, I'll be really happy. I'm getting married at the end of November, and my fiancée really likes to shop, so this money will really come in handy."
Krawiec, appearing in the specialty race for the first time, had a relatively easy path to the final. He got a single in the opening round after Angelle Sampey's Rush Racing Buell broke, and then got another free pass in the semi's after low qualifier Chip Ellis red-lighted on his Schumacher Electric Suzuki. In both rounds, Krawiec would have been difficult to beat with back-to-back 6.99-second runs.
Hines was also in the sixes on his first two runs with a 6.98 win against Karen Stoffer in round one and a 6.98 to 6.97 holeshot win against reigning POWERade champ Matt Smith in the semi's. With the sun setting, Hines knew he was in danger of red-lighting, but he also acknowledged that there was very little he could do about it.
"I knew when we were rolling up to the starting line that I was probably going to red-light," said Hines, who has reached the Ringers final for the fifth-straight year. "We've done all we can do to the bike, but it still reacts too fast to keep the light green. Sure, I wanted to win, but after I beat Matt Smith in the semi's and realized that no matter what we'd continue our streak, I was pretty happy."
Krawiec's' $25,000 payday gives him the lion's share of the $61,000 race-day purse; Hines received $10,000 for his runner-up. Should Krawiec win the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Monday, he'll receive a $10,000 double-up bonus from NHRA for sweeping both of this weekend's races. Semifinalists Ellis and Smith each earned $6,000 for their efforts, and Matt Guidera, Sampey, Chris Rivas, and Stoffer received $3,500 each for making the field. Overall, Ringers Gloves, the official glove of NHRA, puts up $76,000 in prize money each year for the Pro Bike Battle. The low qualifier at each national event is awarded $1,000.