MOHNTON, PA – September 13, 2018 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Racing at Maple Grove Raceway, the site of this weekend’s 34th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, has seemed to always bring out the best in defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Eddie Krawiec. Now that the race serves as the kickoff to the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, it’s the perfect chance for the points leader to send an early message.
Krawiec has back-to-back wins at the facility, four since 2012 and five overall on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, giving the four-time world champ an incredible track record at Maple Grove Raceway. Coming off a year where he won four of the six playoff races, Krawiec hopes he can get off to a fast start at a track that’s served him well over the years.
“I don’t want to upset all my Northeast fans,” Krawiec, a Bayonne, N.J. native said, laughing. “It just works for me. I don’t know how to explain it. Hopefully the date change keeps things working for me, but the success has just happened. I don’t know how to explain, but hopefully we can keep that right mojo going. I’m comfortable at every track I’m going to in the Countdown. I know we have a good set-up and good data for each of these tracks, so I like my position and I like where I am.”
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), and Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were all winners of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 in 2018, including final eliminations coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 16. It is the 11th of 16 races in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle season and the first of six in the Countdown to the Championship, and Krawiec looks to keep his incredible pace going.
Krawiec has 9 wins in his past 17 events dating back to his Indy win a year ago, carrying his dominant stretch from the Countdown to the Championship in 2017 into this season. The 47-time event winner has four wins and five finals appearances in 2018, which means the challenge now is finding a way to keep improving with a host of talented riders nipping at his heels.
“We’ve got good motorcycles and we’ve been performing well the second half of the season, and I don’t see it changing from that perspective,” Krawiec said. “We always try to run and be better, for us we have to keep the motorcycle consistent on raceday. It’s not good to come out, go fast and then taper off. You want to go fast every run and then continually go fast each run at each track. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the key to the Countdown.”
Krawiec’s in the right frame of mind to go after that goal, but he will be challenged by a number of championship-hungry riders at Maple Grove Raceway, including teammate Andrew Hines, LE Tonglet, who beat Krawiec in the final round at Indy, 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, Hector Arana Jr., Scotty Pollacheck, Steve Johnson, two-time world champ Matt Smith, Angelle Sampey, who has six wins at Maple Grove, and Angie Smith. But Krawiec has been in this position before and will again rely on his battle-tested experience to perform at a high level in the playoffs.
“You could be the fastest guy, but you may not be the best racer and if you’re not, it’s going to come back to get you,” Krawiec said. “I’ve learned that over the years. With the Countdown, you can’t think too far ahead. The way I look at it, you have to go rounds at every race. If you don’t and somebody falters, you’re not there to capitalize and you lose an opportunity. You have to try to capitalize on every opportunity, make your own luck and try to be good all the time.”
Defending Top Fuel world champ Force will look for a second straight win at Maple Grove against points leader Steve Torrence, Clay Millican and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher.
Capps will begin his quest for a second Funny Car world title in three years against points leader Courtney Force, reigning world champ Robert Hight, and Matt Hagan.
Pro Stock’s Butner starts his title defense against points leader Tanner Gray, who has five wins in 2018, and former world champs Greg Anderson, Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Hanna Motorsports First Strike and Top Secret Eastern Raider Jet Funny Cars. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
Those in attendance will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the biggest names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This includes meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the Dodge NHRA Nationals include Al Segrini, Frank Manzo and more.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Before the race, the Mopar Mega Block Party will rev up the Dodge NHRA Nationals race weekend for the third straight year. The free-admission fan event, set to roll into FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading from 4-10 p.m. on Thursday, offers a jam-packed slate of fun activities. NHRA stars and TV personalities will take part in the annual Mopar Mega Block Party home run derby. Mopar Dodge/SRT NHRA drivers Matt Hagan, Leah Pritchett, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Tony Schumacher will slug it out with NHRA on Fox play-by-play announcer Dave Rieff, color commentator Tony Pedregon and pit reporter Bruno Massel Jr. Mopar Mega Block Party attendees can also meet their favorite drivers in a one-hour long autograph session, and enjoy simulators, monster trucks, car show, food and drink booths, vendor displays and live music.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 610-856-9200. Tickets also are available online at www.maplegroveraceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association