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NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 3, 2014
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by Andrew Hines.Â Andrew Hines, Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley Davidson.Â And he's led the Pro Stock Motorcycle points.Â This is the second race of the season.Â He has four wins and one runner‑up finish this year as well as two semifinal appearances.Â
He was the No. 1 qualifier in the 2010 season and has three career Pro Stock Motorcycle World Championships.Â
Andrew, what is your mindset going into the championship with that No. 1 position in the Countdown?Â
ANDREW HINES:Â Right now my mindset's just to maintain what we've been doing all year long, and that's just going out there, getting round wins on Sunday.
The biggest thing is trying to keep your head calm and have faith in your team and motorcycle.Â Luckily, I've had that all year long.Â The guys here at Vance & Hines have been working on our Harleys nonstop to get us back to this point after the season we had last year.Â Last year I missed the cut completely.Â I didn't even have a chance to run for the Countdown to the championship.
Quite a turnaround to this year.Â I've been in this position in the past and came up just short right at the end of the year.Â So we're obviously in a really good position right now.Â I hope we can keep the momentum we've had going.Â I don't think I've ever had this many wins heading into the Countdown, nice place to be sitting with my V‑Rod up front.Â
Those 20 little extra points we get for being the No. 1 in points heading into the Countdown can be crucial given the way all motorcycles are running in the field.Â All the points can add up, the qualifying points and things and so forth.Â
But right now it's just going to be business as normal, go out there and give it our best shot every single week in, week out.Â
It gets a little tough here with four in a row.Â You've got to have everything in place to go out there make a killer run at it.Â And we're already in the process of making everything top‑notch for the next four coming up.
Q.Â How much did last year chew at you?Â It's a long offseason to sit there and think about it.Â Does it give everyone in the organization not just extra but that much more motivation going into the year?
ANDREW HINES:Â Yeah.Â You know being just out of the contention last year, finishing 11 after Indy, was a tough pill to swallow for me and everybody here at the shop.Â We had put forth so much effort to get to the point where we were able to win a few rounds here and there.Â
We had a few parts failures along the way last year that ultimately kept us out of the Countdown.Â Everyone in the shop, over the winter, they wanted to make sure we got back to 2012 form as we call it when we won 15 out of 16 events.Â And they put in the hours and the effort that we required of them.Â Nobody hemmed or hawed and they all went out and did whatever we asked.Â
They worked the late hours and helped us fabricate new parts and throughout the entire offseason it was just a whole lot of production stuff rolling through all the mills and machines here at the shop.Â And guys burning midnight oil.Â
You hear that a lot, but there was mills working here around the clock.Â Luckily, with some of the programmers we have here, they can throw parts in the mill and walk away and come back the next day and it's done.Â
We racked up a lot of parts in the offseason and come February we started getting after it and made almost 300 Dyna pulls during the offseason to try to get back to the performance we used to have.Â And it ultimately paid off.Â
We started off the season really strong.Â Brought up the morale of everybody here at the shop when we went out winning rounds, confident we could go qualify at the front of the field.Â Everybody here loves what they do for our team.Â It's a total team effort.Â It's not just the five, six guys you see on the road at the racetrack.Â There's 15 other guys at our shop to make sure we have perfect equipment to go up and down the racetrack.
Everybody got a bad taste in their mouth when we only had one V‑Rod in the Countdown last year.Â That's just a product of how good we've done in the last decade, especially just on our Harleys.Â So we've pushed through it and got back to the point where we could win on Sunday again.
And it's been great for us, been great for the Harley Davidson fans, and we're really, really excited to have a No. 1 bike going into the Countdown.
Q.Â Eddie talked about it a little bit during the course of the weekend but how important is that Dyna to be able to do that, is that kind of overtaking your on‑track testing program in a sense?
ANDREW HINES:Â It has.Â We've done less testing on track the last couple of years than we had in years past.Â Just because we were behind on mile an hour at the top end.Â And you can go to the track and run all you want and get your 60‑foot numbers down and everything.
But if you don't have the horsepower to run with everybody else it's hard to go out there get win lights.Â That was our main focus over the winter.Â Like I said, almost 300 Dyna pulls, 260 of them were in February before we left for the first race.Â
So it was a lot of work.Â A lot of time and, believe me, making 260 Dyna pulls in a Dyna is stressful.Â I was sitting there pushing that throttle forward 20, 30 times a day at times, never know what's going to happen.Â Break a valve spring or push rods, rocker arms, whatever it might be, gets stressful, you break parts and push through it.Â The bad thing about being a Dyna operator is 90 to 95percent of the stuff you try doesn't work.
A lot of stress in that area.Â But we were able to pick up about 25 horsepower over the winter and that put us right from running mid‑pack last year to running back in the front.
Q.Â With the season that you guys had last year, struggling with the new engine combination, did you really think that you would be in this position at this time of the year after all the trouble that you had last year?
ANDREW HINES:Â Going into this year, I was just hoping to make the Countdown be in the top 10 to have a chance to run for the championship and get a number plate on the side of my bike again that doesn't start with my division number.Â
You know, to be No. 1, it totally exceeds every expectation I had of this year.Â When you're doing all that development work during the winter, you're not sure what results you're going to see on the racetrack.
You're just hoping that everything's going to come back to like we had it in 2012.Â And you go testing and you hear people testing and doing different things all across the world there.Â
And by the time you get to Gainesville, everybody has their own ideas.Â But once you get them all in the same place at the same time you find what everybody else has.Â
Once I knew we had some decent horsepower and saw the performance of everybody else and we were able to get some decent qualifying rounds in, it obviously makes it a little easier to win rounds on Sunday when you're not qualifying in the middle or back of the field.Â
We had a good run at that this year.Â Eddie has a lot of No. 1 qualifiers.Â He's been doing pretty good.Â It's been pretty good.Â Being in the Countdown, four wins, and a battle win, to boot, can't get much better.Â The only thing that can get better is to seal the deal and have a No. 1 at the end of the year.
Q.Â Start off the Countdown, we go to Charlotte, does that give you a little bit of added spring in your step knowing you had success there earlier this year?
ANDREW HINES:Â Yeah, that's one of those tracks that's been hit or miss for me in my career.Â When we started going there back in'06 or whatever it was, it took me four years to get a single round win at that track let alone four‑wide or the fall two‑wide race.
Lately, I've been pretty decent there.Â And we have a pretty good handle on what the starting line needs with the little nuances it needs with the downhill track.Â And air has been all over the place.Â Don't really have consistent air year to year not knowing what to expect.
We've been running in all different types of air conditions this year.Â We are starting to get a handle on it with one motorcycle.Â Eddie's running pretty decent.Â
Mine's going to come back.Â I figured out some problems yesterday and I've been running C‑25 all day long trying to get my bike running back like Eddie's.Â
So I feel that we can go in there and run like my bike had been the beginning of the season and battle with Eddie for those qualifying bonus points.Â It's going to be huge coming to the end of the year.
Q.Â What's it like knowing that Eddie is basically your main opponent for this title?Â He's a world champion and as you noted, probably running a little bit better than you right now.Â What's it like knowing that he's your biggest rival for the championship?
ANDREW HINES:Â It's tough but it's a good deal because he's the other motorcycle in the pit area.Â But like any team, you want to have the better bike, better vehicle in the pit area.Â It's the nature of the beast.Â Every drag racer out there is ultra competitive.Â That's why we run in this sport, and we want to be the best.
When your teammate is the best in the field right now, it makes it tough to get around them.Â I know I have the same equipment, the same motorcycle, the same tuner, same everything, it's just we haven't found the tuning box that my V‑Rod needs to be in.Â And we got a little bit behind here in Indy, and Eddie's performance was in his window.Â
So we feel we know which way to go now.Â I'm going to run the same engine in Charlotte that I ran here in Indy.Â And I obviously, I ran Eddie there second round of Indianapolis.Â And I had nothing to lose at that point.Â I feel I had won the first round, locked up my No. 1 spot for the Countdown, took a stab at a tune‑up and went way in the wrong direction.Â
I already have some of the parameters loaded in for Charlotte, and if I can give Eddie a run in that first qualifying session, I'll feel really good about my chances.
Q.Â And does this feel like 2012 swagger‑wise for you guys knowing that you do have the field covered pretty much every weekend?
ANDREW HINES:Â Not necessarily covered.Â We've been fortunate just to knock it out of the box here every now and then.Â Like the one run Eddie made in qualifying when he went 682 to go No. 1 in Indy, it was pretty strange.Â It was really fast for the conditions.Â We're still not sure why and then the bike slowed right back down.Â
But we feel that if I can go up there, make a nice clean straight run, there's no reason why we can't be in the top 3 every single pass.Â
So it's the determination of our team to put our V‑Rods up front.Â Our guys have given us flawless motorcycles all year long.Â It's just been a tuning struggle, trying to learn what this new motor wants.
Even compared to last year we still can't compare a lot of the notes because the motor was so far down in horsepower last year it wanted a totally different tune‑up.Â This year is kind of different, new learning game every racetrack we get to.Â And take it as it comes kind of situation.Â We have a base deal we start every weekend with.Â We go one way with one bike and one with the other.Â And hopefully by Sunday we get it figured out.Â And that's what we were doing earlier in the year trying to get both bikes in the final round.Â
Q.Â You've mentioned overcoming the horsepower slump.Â What are your thoughts on carrying the momentum that you have had all year into the Countdown when it really starts to count?
ANDREW HINES:Â Keeping momentum is a key thing.Â Big thing for me is I like to be out front with having people chasing me, because it's less pressure on me because I just know I have to maintain where other people have to overcome.Â
And ifI can go out there and get a lot of qualifying points, qualify in the front where it makes race day a little easier, that's going to be key for the whole thing.
In 2012, Eddie and I ran for the championship.Â I was No. 2 seed going in.Â And I had actually ended up winning Charlotte.Â Beat him on a hole shot.Â Beat Eddie on a hole shot in the final round.Â
After that, same deal, lost the handle on my motorcycle.Â His stayed in his window.Â And the big thing is once it gets in that window, keeping it there.Â
I've been notorious for trying to micromanage everything that happens on my bike.Â And sometimes I just need to leave it alone.Â So I'll be letting Matt do more of the keyboard strokes there trying to tune the V‑Rod and keep it consistent without trying to blow everybody out of the water.Â That's the big thing.Â
I'd rather go out there have a fast bike than go out there have one that's totally dominant.Â We can count on trying to go out there win rounds and maybe not tune ourselves out of the show.
Q.Â When you guys overcame obviously that horsepower thing, when you overcame that, were there points during that transition that you really thought that you wondered if it was ever going to work?
ANDREW HINES:Â We did.Â There was all kinds of new components that had to fall into place for everything to work right.Â And it was just a matter of making sure the Dyna was putting out the correct number.Â
One thing we did is we had our Dyna upgraded beginning of last year.Â So when we also made the switch from our old style engine to this engine, we changed all the parameters in our Dyna so we were way off at that point and couldn't compare apples‑to‑apples anymore.Â
So this year we had a little more confidence because with the motor combination we had last year and then continuing to develop it, we were able to pick up the power and we knew we were making horsepower.Â You could hear it in the way the motor sounded on the Dyna, the way the bike idles on the starting line.Â Everything was getting better and better.Â And it was just a matter of managing that horsepower, getting it to the track.Â And since we're making more power, we're not even 60‑footing as good as we were last year.
So a little bit tougher.Â But Matt's got a good handle on it right now.Â And he's come up with some good ideas here just in the last couple of days to get my bike back up to snuff and going to go back out there and give them hell.
Q.Â If I could look a few weeks ahead.Â I know the sport is uniform in terms of your competition area, but are there special challenges that you face when you come to Texas?
ANDREW HINES:Â There's something weird with the air down there by you guys.Â I don't know.Â It's struck us twice in‑‑ three out of the last four years.Â We've run on Sunday in eliminations and we just go out there and our bikes‑‑ only our motorcycles will lose like six, seven, 800ths of a second from one run to the next.Â No tune‑up changes.Â According to our weather stations, nothing changed.Â We weren't able to figure it out.Â
And last year everything went fine.Â So it must have been something with our old motor combination, it must have been on the edge, either on timing or fuel.Â It didn't want to be in that type of condition on the next run, whether the motor got hot or whatever it was.Â
Last year, everything seemed to work fine for Eddie.Â He went out and got the cowboy hat.Â This year we're just hoping for more of the same.Â We've got more power.Â We've run decent at that track in the past.Â
It's just a matter of going back there again, seeing what kind of weather we've got and work on it from there.Â But one thing that's high on my list is running out there at Texas Motorplex, getting a cowboy at the end of the day.Â
I've been in two final rounds there and come up short both times.Â It's been tough.Â I lost to a 20‑year‑old and I lost to a girl one time.Â So it's pretty rough.Â
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you.Â
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