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NHRA LODRS IHRA Drag News Photos
Thu, 15 Dec 2011, 18:45 PM

Two Wheels and Two Championships
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2011 Auto Imagery, Inc.






Eddie Krawiec celebrates Championship.
Photo copyright 2011 NHRA

There were some great battles for the Full Throttle Championships in 2011 with the Top Fuel and Funny Car titles providing great excitement and drama. The Pro Stock Car title was decided before we got to Pomona so there wasn't a lot of suspense there. In fact, the way Jason Line ran through the "Countdown" it appeared that championship could have been wrapped up much earlier. That left the Pro Stock Motorcycles and the battle for the championship in the two-wheel class, and when Eddie Krawiec put sixty-nine points between himself and Hector Arana Jr. after the Las Vegas race it was obvious that Eddie had the upper hand in the battle for the title. Then when he went to the final round in Pomona it looked like he might do the same thing that Del Worsham and Matt Hagan would do later in the day and that is win the race and the championship. That didn't happen but Eddie did beat the reigning champ, LE Tonglet in the second round and his closest competitor for the title, Arana, in the semis before losing to his teammate Andrew Hines in the final round. All of that added up to a total of 2691 points and a ninety point margin over the second place rider. It also was more than enough to secure the second championship for the rider of the Vance & Hines Screaming Eagle Harley-Davidson.


Krawiec vs. Andrew Hines
in the final at Las Vegas

Statistically Eddie had a very good year. In 2011 he went to the final round six times and he won four of those races. He was never lower than third in the points and he took over first place in Brainerd and never relinquished the lead after that. He was the number one qualifier three times, set low elapsed time twice and top speed nine times. All of those numbers add up to a championship and a much deserved one for Eddie who also won the title in 2008. That year he won the title without the benefit of a national event win, and according to Eddie this championship validates his other title. "I got a lot of flack from all over about winning the championship without winning a race," he said. "I know that's the way it worked out but I was surprised at some of the remarks that I heard and that's what makes this year's championship so important and, maybe, a little better." For those of us who follow the sport we can tell Eddie that he doesn't have to apologize for anything. He played within the rules in '08, was very steady in the "Countdown" and won the title, and in 2011 he did it again, he just happened to win a bunch of races on the way to the title this year....Winning races is nice, in fact it's great, but so is winning rounds and that's what Eddie did in 2011. Did you know that in the entire 2011 season he only lost one time in the first round? Once!! That's very impressive, and it takes on added significance when you know that LE Tonglet had the next best record in round one and he lost four times. Eddie's one miscue in round one came in Atlanta where he lost to Jim Underdahl and slipped to third place in the standings, his lowest ranking of the year. Did you know that from that point on there were only three races where Eddie didn't make it to at least the semi-finals? Of those three only one happened in the "Countdown" and that's when Michael Phillips beat him in round two in Dallas. Now that's the stuff that championships are made of, isn't it?

In 2011 there were six other winners in the bike class besides Eddie. Did you know that the Pro Stock Motorcycle class was the only one of the Full Throttle classes that had all of the winners finish in the top ten? Bob Vandergriff won in Top Fuel and didn't finish in the top ten, Johnny Gray and Kurt Johnson did it in the Funny Car and Pro Stock classes

Eddie Krawiec
Photo copyright 2011 NHRA
respectively, and they didn't make the top ten, but everyone who won a race in the bike class finished in the top ten this year....When you talk about winning rounds as well as races, to prove how important that is all you have to do is look at the bike class. Did you know that LE Tonglet also won four races in 2011, but unlike Eddie he lost four times in round one? When you add in the fact that two of LE's round-one losses took place in the "Countdown" it's easy to see why Eddie was able to win the championship. That first round, as any driver will tell you, is so important and that's why they all say that they are nervous wrecks going into Sunday's eliminations. Did you know that Eddie has won 78% of his first round races over the course of his career? That's very impressive and it's another reason why he is now a two-time NHRA champion. Now if you think that's impressive, how about this. Did you know that the great John Myers won a remarkable 92% of his first round races while Matt Hines won 90%? John was an incredible 95-8 in the first round and Matt was 87-9, which isn't too bad, and that's why they won multiple championships and are counted among the greatest racers of all time.


Hector Arana Jr. vs. Krawiec
in the Phoenix final.

Having a good machine, whether it's a car or a motorcycle, is a real plus in the racing business, but then you knew that, didn't you? But it's not always the driver with the best machine who wins the races or the championship. Did you know that in 2011 the number one qualifier in the bike class only won five times? That's five out of sixteen races and that shows that having the best bike isn't always a guarantee of success. In the motorcycle category did you know that Hector Arana Jr. was the top qualifier seven times and that he only won two of those races? Historically, being number one in the bike class is a good thing. Did you know that in the history of the class, which officially became an NHRA pro class in 1987, there have been 323 motorcycle races and the number one qualifier has made it to the final round at 172 of those events? That's better than fifty percent and that's good in any class.

Eddie may not have had the best bike all year but he certainly had a good bike all year, and when you couple that with some steady riding and a good team you have the ingredients for a championship. Just those round one numbers alone will show you how steady he was and so will the fact that he more than held his own against the other top riders or contenders in 2011. Did you know that Eddie posted an overall record of 21-11 against the other riders in the top ten in 2011? And he only had a losing record against one of them, Michael Phillips. Against Michael he was 1-3 for the year, but other than that he more than held his own against the best teams in the class. On the other side of the coin he was even better. Did you know that against riders outside the top ten Eddie was a lofty 14-1 this year? His only loss to a rider who was not in the top ten came at the race in Chicago where he lost to Chip Ellis, and let's face it, Chip had a very good bike, and only the fact that he didn't attend all of the races kept him from being a top ten rider.


Krawiec at the Awards Ceremony.

For his career Eddie is in the top ten in most of the statistical categories for Pro Stock Motorcycle riders. He is ninth in the number of wins, tenth in number one qualifying spots and seventh in the number of top speeds that he has recorded. When you add in the fact that he has set both the national elapsed time and speed record in his career it's easy to see why he has gained the respect of the other teams and the admiration of racers in the other Full Throttle classes....One of the highlights of the year for Eddie may have come at the very first race for the bikes when he shattered the speed record with his run of 199.26 mph. The old mark was 197.65 and when you break a record by that much you have done something special. That run made everyone think that we might see a 200 mph run in the bike class in 2011 but that never happened. With so few barriers left to be broken in the sport, the rider who goes 200 for the first time will be like the Kenny Bernstein of the bike class and it is certainly something that every rider would like to add to their résumé. Eddie made that historic run in qualifying at Gainesville and it stood up as the fastest run in the history of the class. Did you know that he also recorded the three fastest runs during eliminations in 2011? He ran 198.85 in the semi-finals at Gainesville and that followed a 197.45 that he recorded in round one. At the last race of the season, on the last run of the season, he went 197.80 to complete the trifecta and make the three fastest runs in the class on race day. Did you know that by the end of the year Eddie had made, between qualifying and eliminations, six of the ten fastest runs in the class? That kind of power can come in very handy at times.


Hines vs. Krawiec in the finals at Pomona

With two championships Eddie is among a handful of riders who have scored multiple national titles, but he still says that he wants more, and that's what makes a great competitor. With his crew chief, Matt Haines, having three titles and his teammate, Andrew Hines, also having three, he would like to add one more to join them in that select group. Did you know that only Dave Schultz ever won more than three championships in the bike class and he did it an amazing six times? So for Eddie, 2012 will be a year that he goes for the gold, again. After winning the title in 2008 without an event win, and now winning it for the second time with a solid season, all that remains for him is to have a dominating season, and with the firepower and brain power of the Vance & Hines team and Harley-Davidson that is certainly a possibility.





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