GAINESVILLE, FL – March 16, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Andrew Hines will start the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle season firmly focused on going after his third straight world championship.
But another major accomplishment and one of the great, noteworthy NHRA milestones remains in the form of the first 200 mph pass in Pro Stock Motorcycle. That mark appears within reach in 2016 and Hines predicts fans won’t have to wait long to see it.
That adds another exciting layer to this weekend’s 47th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, where Hines will also be trying to win for the second time on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“I think we’ll see that sitting on a scoreboard somewhere early in this year,” Hines said in reference to the 200 mph speed. “It could be one session where you might see two, three, maybe even four motorcycles run over that 200 mph mark and it might just stack up on who goes out first that qualifying session. It could be as exciting as that, or heck, you might see maybe the last two bikes of a certain session put it up side by side.
“That would be pretty spectacular. We are all looking for it. I know a lot of us motorcycle guys have been trying to get it the last couple years. It’s just a matter of all the stars aligning correctly and finding that couple horsepower that we all need to push us to that next threshold.”
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET). It is the first of 16 races for Pro Stock Motorcycles during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the Gatornationals always provides a meaningful backdrop for the talented riders in the two-wheel class to begin their season.
Hines has been incredible over the past two seasons, pushing his career world championships to five. But he has lauded the competition level in the class and it again will be at a high level in 2016.
Two-time world champion Matt Smith transitioned to a Victory motorcycle a year ago, making strong progress even while having to make a number of adjustments. With a year of experience under his belt on his Victory Gunner, Smith, who finished fourth a year ago, has high expectations.
“We’re excited,” Smith said. “We worked really hard this winter, trying to find some power. We worked with Elite Motorsports and they helped us out a lot. We made some big gains over the winter, so I think it’s really going to show when we get to Gainesville.”
The two-bike Lucas Oil team of Hector Arana Jr. and Hector Arana also has big hopes for 2016 after bringing on William Cavallo as the team’s new chief.
Arana posted a win in St. Louis and finished eighth in points, while Arana Jr. picked up two victories and a fifth-place finish during a solid 2015 campaign. But with the addition of Cavallo, Arana Jr. figures the team will be even more well-rounded. Arana Jr. is also one of the favorites to reach the 200 mph mark, setting the national record a year ago with a speed of 199.88 mph in Charlotte.
“I have a lot of big expectations for this year,” Arana Jr. said. “We’ve got a lot of great things going on. We know we have really good horsepower, but we were struggling leaving the starting line. Sometimes we’d get it, but for whatever reason in these last two years, we’ve struggled with that. We figured it would be a good move to hire a guy like William.”
Gaining every advantage possible is a necessity is a class as talented-loaded as Pro Stock Motorcycle. Hines’ teammate, Eddie Krawiec, earned his last championship in 2013, and finished second a year ago, winning the season finale in Pomona.
Other standouts include Jerry Savoie, who won three races and finished third, Karen Stoffer, who posted two wins in the first five races last year, Chip Ellis and three-time world champion Angelle Sampey. But even with the recent success, Hines and his team have worked hard to constantly improve and he hopes that will again carry over into a strong 2016.
“I’m feeling pretty confident about what we have done here with our Harley in the off-season,” said Hines, who earned four of his 42 career wins a year ago. “We’re going to go test and hopefully we’re going to reap our benefits for all the hard work we’ve put in over the off-season. When we get out there, I guess the time ticket is going to tell the truth, but we’ll see what happens.
“We’ve got a lot of great bikes in the class. The racing this year is going to be fantastic and just like you saw at the end of last year, it’s going to be a crapshoot who is going to win on any given Sunday. We just have to focus on qualifying in the top half this year, that’s going to be key.”
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence will bring the confidence he gained from his win at the Winternationals in Southern California to the tradition-rich Florida race. Drivers like reigning world champion Antron Brown, four-time event winner Tony Schumacher, 2014 event winner Doug Kalitta and rising star Leah Pritchett, who won her first career race in Phoenix, will do everything in their power to knock him off the top, as will Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd, Brittany Force and Clay Millican.
In Funny Car, Pomona winner Capps has enjoyed victory at the Gatornationals three times, including last season, and the San Diego resident hopes to do so again this year. He’ll face off against the likes of Tim Wilkerson, who won the most recent event in Phoenix, defending world champion Del Worsham, Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force, seven-time event winner John Force, Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon and Tommy Johnson Jr., among others.
For the new-look Pro Stock class, Anderson will ride into Gainesville looking to defend his 2015 Gatornationals title. Anderson defeated teammate Jason Line in the final round of the event last year and both already have victories in 2016. The Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro tandem has combined for seven victories at Gainesville Raceway, but get tough competition from reigning world champion Erica Enders, two-time Gators winners Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr., and category young guns, Drew Skillman, Phoenix runner-up Chris McGaha, Vincent Nobile and Phoenix top qualifier Bo Butner.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
The event also will serve as the season-opening race for the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and feature plenty of thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, March 18 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 19, at 12 and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 20.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, the third of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
WHERE: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla. The track is located on 11211 North County Road 225 in Gainesville.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, March 17-20
THURSDAY, March 17 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, March 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at noon and 3:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 19 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, March 20 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, March 18, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 9 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, March 19, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 6:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, March 20, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS:
Spencer Massey, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Warren Johnson, 9, PS; John Force, 7, FC; Don Prudhomme, 5, FC; Joe Amato, 4, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 4, FC/TF; Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Don Garlits, 4, TF; Jason Line, 4, PS; Ed McCulloch, 4, FC; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Dave Schultz, 4, PSM; Terry Vance, 4, PSM.
- Top Fuel – 3.743 seconds by Morgan Lucas, March ’12; 329.02 mph by Spencer Massey, March ’15.
- Funny Car – 4.022 seconds by Cruz Pedregon, March ’15; 317.12 mph by Robert Hight, March ’12.
- Pro Stock – 6.473 seconds by Mike Edwards, March ’12; 214.69 mph by Erica Enders, March ’14.
- PS Motorcycle – 6.750 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, March ’12; 199.26 mph by Krawiec, March ’11.
- Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
- Funny Car – 3.884 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif. and 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif.
- Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C. and 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
- PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.