Bradford looks to be the Ringer in this Battle
Indianapolis, prerace: Tom Bradford and the Balbayis Asset Consulting/Hal's Speedshop Buell take to the track this Saturday for the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle-the NHRA's version of a Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star race. The Ringers Battle runs during Saturday's qualifying for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park near Indianapolis, Indiana. Riders qualify for the $61,000 (25G's to win) Ringers Pro Bike Battle based on their qualifying performance for the year, starting immediately after the U.S. Nationals last year and ending at the most recent race in Memphis. Bradford, who has never competed in the U.S. Nationals before, is the only rookie in the star-studded Ringers field.
"For us to come out in our first full year and qualify for the Ringers Glove Battle is huge," said Bradford. "Just look at the big names that didn't make the Battle (including last year's winner G.T. Tonglet). This is a real achievement for this young team. Couple that with our eighth place in the national standings, and we're excited."
Bradford and the team made a fortuitous decision last year when they started racing—and acquiring points for the Ringers Battle—in the latter part of the season. "We didn't even have the foresight last August when we picked Brainerd as the spot to debut our bike that it was perfect for the Ringer's Glove Deal. We didn't really have that in our radar. We were just going for qualifying spots and being as consistent as we could, and that's put us in the Battle."
If Tom expects to go rounds on Saturday, he'll have to avoid mishaps like the -.002 redlight that took him out in the first stanza last time out at Memphis. "What are you gonna do?" Bradford said about the near-miss. "I'm the most upfront guy you'll ever meet, and if there's something that needs to change I'll tell you. I had some problems at the tree at the beginning of the season and I admitted it. But I've gotten over the fact that this is the NHRA and there is a camera in my face. I feel like I'm on target, and I'm going up there with the same mindset every round. I told the team 'If I go .002 red, you don't want me changing that. We need to change the bike a little bit.'"
And after Bradford went -.004 red in his first lap of testing at Indy the Tuesday after Memphis, the team did just that. "We made some changes and went consistent .020's, .030's and .040's. The changes you make to slow the bike's reaction are similar to those you make with a Pro Stock car. It has to do with the clutch—how much air gap there is in the clutch, changing clutch levers, adjusting play in the cable—stuff like that. You're making the clutch travel more, and that takes it thousandths of a second longer to its job."
Which, the team hopes, will be just the right tweak to sit down champion Andrew Hines when Tom faces him in round 1 of the Ringers Battle. "We were the quickest in testing last Tuesday, and second quickest of the two day session. It's our first time at the U.S. Nationals, and for us to be going into it where we are is super, super exciting. We run Andrew in the first round of the Glove deal and I'm really feeling good about it. It's so tight that it's really gonna be a battle. It's gonna live up to its name."
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