It is no secret that the NHRA Full Throttle Series “Countdown to the Championship” in the Pro Stock motorcycle class is engaged in a raging battle for the championship between LE Tonglet’s Nitro Fish Team and points leader Andrew Hines of the Screaming Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson team.
Both rider’s have met and decided the outcome of the last four events with Tonglet coming out on top 3 of the 4 times. Tonglet, in his rookie season has made a strong and epic comeback from an earlier announcement that the team was financially unable to complete the remainder of the season after the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Here is where the story takes a unique turn and twist. Hines and Tonglet are close friends and Vance & Hines offered to supply the Tonglet team with a engine make the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with. Tonglet at that time was not a threat to challenge Hines championship hopes but as it turns out Tonglet surprised the world with the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win. This event would start a win streak that would take Tonglet’s team from the brink of quitting earlier in the season and lead them into Charlotte’s zMax Dragway at #2 in the points with a new team sponsor and the next two NHRA event wins.
Tonglet’s championship drive would shift into high gear heading into the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte North Carolina. A race he entered in the #2 position in points making a solid jump from his #7 position heading into Brainerd prior. Tonglet was suddenly a contender against the very team (Vance & Hines) that helped his team make it to Indy and survive up to that point.
Many would ask, what’s the big deal? In that question may lay the answer. Tonglet’s Nitro Fish Suzuki is a one horse stable and Hines stable consist of two horses so to speak. Eddie Krawiec, the 2008 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion is a team mate to Andrew Hines. Krawiec made history with his championship in being the only rider in class history to ever win a NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship with out ever winning a single season race event. NHRA Championships are big deals,emotionally and financially for the teams and riders and anyone winning one will forever be a part of the 50 plus year history of the NHRA. A huge part of the “big deal” is also the financial rewards that also come along with a team earning a NHRA Full Throttle Championship which includes returning marketing partners and the potential to attract new ones, not to mention a bigger budget to operate on.
Let’s face it, to compete and be competitive on this level means you must go rounds and win and that is where is begins to become a bigger deal. Dave Lee Roth of Van Halen once said “it’s not whether you win or lose …it is how good you looked!”
This single statement from Diamond Dave during the 1984’s MTV Music Awards always stuck in my mind. It is still relevant after all these year’s and with the NHRA Toyo Tires Nationals in the book’s from Reading Pennsylvania it’s meaning makes it all the more relevant.
With Tonglet’s Nitro Fish Suzuki breathing heavy fire down the Screaming Eagle,Vance & Hines Harley Davidson team’s neck with his late season win streak’s and with three races left to determine the outcome of the championship in the pro stock motorcycle class the pressure was definitely on at the Reading event.
The racing world eyes were fixated on this class and these two competitors. Both Hines and Tonglet performed as expected and both would determine the outcome of the event with Hines being the winner over Tonglet in the final round, OR would they both determine the outcome?
Here is where the kink in the chain comes in and some argue the “big deal” lies. Eddie Krawiec, Hines teammate would face off against him in the semi finals at Reading Pennsylvania.
The outcome of this round of competition would brew up controversy for days to come all over the racing industry and internet world. Krawiec would lose the round to Hines due to a terrible .130 reaction time versus Hines .039 reaction time. Immediately fans were calling foul and begin saying Krawiec took a “dive” for his teammate,which by the way is against NHRA rules.
Everyone can remember the controversy was created when John Force mysteriously headed to the wall and having to let out of the throttle while his team mate Robert Height took the win and entered the championship countdown. Force losing the round knocked out Cruz Pedregon from the countdown in 2009 and Height made history by winning the Funny Car Championship from 10th place later in the season and the ensuing fight between Pendregon and Force on national television.
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