It didn’t require a strenuous effort by Eddie Krawiec to strengthen his season points lead in the finals of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway.
Krawiec was handed the event title by default when Hector Arana Jr. fouled (red-lighted) at the start of the Pro Stock Motorcycle final. Krawiec finished in 6.896 at 192.47 mph and Arana Jr. at 6.904 at 192.52.
Krawiec didn’t know Arana Jr. red-lighted until he was about 300 feet down the track.
“I didn’t realize it right off the starting line,” Krawiec said. “I happened to look up at the scoreboard. I saw him shoot out on me ... and I thought was I late? There are just so many things going through your head at that time.
“I looked up at the scoreboard and saw the win light and thought ‘Woof, I dodged a bullet.’ It’s one of those things you have to keep a close eye on but you have to stay focused.”
The win was Krawiec’s sixth in six final rounds this year, and the 17th of his career. With seven races left, he and teammate Andrew Hines, who’s second in points, are heading toward a season championship.
“I haven’t really got to the point where I feel any unnecessary pressure on me,” Krawiec said. “We know we’re going to lose, it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of when.
“To be honest, if guys are going to keep giving us round wins and races with red lights or making falters and bobbles it’s going to make it easier for us. It’s our job, obviously, to make no mistakes.”
Krawiec credited crew chief Matt Hines for a winning weekend and a winning season.
“Matt’s doing an awesome job, and obviously it shows,” Krawiec said. “He’s on top of his game, he’s making all the correct judgement calls, I believe.
“We struggled a little bit this weekend with my bike down the track. I was leaving the starting line really good. I just struggled the second half of the track. Andrew’s bike was the opposite. He struggled to get off the starting line, down the track he was running really good.”
Krawiec, the fourth seed, beat Shawn Gann in the opening round, Sunday, Karen Stoffer in the quarterfinals and John Hall in the semifinals. A huge upset occurred in the opening round when top-seeded Hector Arana Sr. fouled at the starting line. Arana Sr. was the top qualifier Friday and Saturday.
“When I saw Hector Sr. lose, I was pretty shocked, I didn’t think that was going to happen,” Krawiec said. “ ... My side of the ladder, everyone was like ‘You’ve got it easy,’ but I’ve still got Karen in the second round. She went out there and did a (6.926). You can’t count that short. You still have to put forth the effort.”