Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Screamin' Eagle team doesn't cash in at Vegas
Both Hines and Tonglet suffered first round losses during final eliminations. It was just the second time in the team's two-bike history that both riders have been ousted so early.
"The bikes came off the truck and we had problems instantly," team owner Byron Hines said. "We finally got a few things sorted out and got down the track in qualifying, but I think we just got too conservative on Sunday and that created new problems."
Hines qualified in the No. 2 position in the 16-bike Pro Stock Motorcycle category field on Saturday, riding his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 7.211 time at 186.20. Tonglet qualified in the 11th spot with a 7.275 at 184.72.
In the first elimination round on Sunday, Hines came up short against Suzuki rider Geno Scali, posting a 7.292-second time at 161.90 mph to Scali's 7.287 at 186.77. It was the first loss for Hines in three season meetings against Scali.
Tonglet fell to Buell rider Matt Smith for the first time in two season meetings. Tonglet turned in a 7.303 pass at 183.92 to Smith's 7.290 at 176.65.
Hines, however, still holds the top spot in the POWERade championship point standings with a 47-point lead over Tonglet with one race left on the schedule. Tonglet has a 45-point lead over third-place Suzuki rider
"Andrew qualified well and then broke a crank shaft in the first round," Byron Hines said. "And GT was fighting with the clutch all weekend. We are seeking our second consecutive championship and we wanted to come out here and have a great race, but unfortunately it was just a tough weekend all around."
"We have something missing right now and we just didn't find it this weekend," Tonglet said. "But we will. We had to swap motors in qualifying and we saw improvement immediately. We should have gone a little quicker, but we ran out of time and qualifying laps to see that improvement. We have a great team and great Harleys, but we just struggled this weekend. We'll get it worked out before the final race."
Hines has qualified in the top two positions in all but just two events (fifth at
"It was a challenging weekend for the entire team," Screamin' Eagle Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "We hoped to walk away from this race with a bigger points lead going into the final race of the season, but it didn't work out that way. We have a few things to work on before we get to
Hines and Tonglet each have two wins this season. Hines – the defending POWERade champion – said the team will be ready to go after another one to close out the year.
"We hurt three motors this weekend and each of those motors had the capability of qualifying well and winning the race," Hines said. "That's what is so disappointing. We came out here and our performance just didn't live up to the team's expectations. We just have to suck it up and go on.
"We don't know why we struggled so much. Not yet anyway. It seems like everything we tried didn't work out very well. We're first and second in the points for a reason, though. We know how to overcome some tough situations and we will this time too."
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