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March 4, 2015

Andrew Hines

SCOTT SMITH:  Thanks members of the media for joining us today.  We do appreciate your coverage.  We are two races into the season, so the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals March 12th through 15th at Gainesville will be the third race of the season but our first for the riders in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. 
Pro Stock Motorcycle begins in Gainesville and Andrew Hines begins his pursuit of yet another championship after securing his fourth series championship in 2014. 
Last season he rode to six wins and two runner-up finishes.  He was the number one qualifier at one event, and won the inaugural Miramonte Pro Bike Battle specialty race in Sonoma. 
Andrew, thank you for joining us this afternoon. 
ANDREW HINES:  No problem.  Glad to be here. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Start with looking at last year.  The championship was your first one since the 2006 season.  A little bit of time between there.  Was there ever point that you doubted you would get another one or was it just a matter of time? 
ANDREW HINES:  Well, it was a long road from '06 to '14.  I had a few stumbles across the way that cost me the chance at a couple championships.  Came up really close in '07 and '10.  Those were mistakes mainly made on my part right at the end of the season that really could have been avoided. 
I was really overthinking the situations too much.  My team just helped me focus and get right back in the mindset for being a racer, focusing more on what needed to happen on each and every run, not worrying what's going to happen day-to-day. 
It was great to get back to that point last year.  Going to carry that No. 1 on the Harley Davidson all this year.  It was a long way to get to that fourth championship.  I was chasing it for eight years or so.  My team did a great job of getting me back in the game the last few years.  Finally got back after the struggle in '13. 
SCOTT SMITH:  What is that feeling putting that No. 1 on the side of the bike? 
ANDREW HINES:  It's a great feeling.  I did it the day after Pomona last year.  We had the opportunity to take the motorcycle down to the L.A. Auto Show.  First thing we did was pull it out in the morning and stuck the No. 1 on it.  When you can stick a No. 1 on the side of your motorcycle or car, it's a phenomenal feeling. 
It's a long road all year long to get to that point.  You look at your crew, see what they had to do to get to that point, sacrificing time with their families, long hours, to race and go have fun. 
We really appreciate the opportunity to race in NHRA, Pro Stock Motorcycle.  Carrying No. 1 for another season is a big accomplishment. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Is it a bullseye, as well? 
ANDREW HINES:  It is.  I know in years past, more recently than ever, whenever someone won a championship, my goal is to take them out whenever I can.  I'm sure everyone else has the same feeling as me. 
SCOTT SMITH:  We'll open it up for questions for Andrew. 

Q.  You've had a fairly long off-season.  Is that helpful or maybe a hindrance?
ANDREW HINES:  With being part of the Pro Stock Motorcycle group, we get that extra month off.  We don't have to go and race quite as early as all the car guys out in Pomona. 
It's a different situation.  We get the extra time, but it kind of makes you feel a little bit rusty.  We haven't done any testing since we left Pomona in November.  We're going to make our first runs here next week in Bradenton, Florida. 
It's different.  We don't get to knock the rust off quite as early as all the cars guy, but we get more time to run the dyno in the shop, more time for vendors to get us parts we need to get going for the season. 
By no means does our progress stop around here.  As soon as we got back from Pomona at the end of the year, we had parts trickling in during the off-season, on the dyno here and there.  Can't wait to get out there next week, burn some new Sunoco race fuel and see what we can do. 

Q.  Is there a point when all of your championship momentum fades before the focus takes over?
ANDREW HINES:  With the way we go about it on our team, whatever happened yesterday doesn't matter.  It's all about what's coming up next. 
Yes, we did win the championship last year.  I think that's how we focus on doing so good week in, week out.  We kind of put what happened yesterday out of our mind and we just focus on the next task at hand. 
Anytime we get in a situation where we're happy about something, we just remember we have something else coming up next we need to conquer. 

Q.  Andrew, give me some perspective on how good Angelle was when she was winning events and championships.  How much has the division changed in the last few years?
ANDREW HINES:  She was a phenomenal rider.  I didn't race against her when she was really in her prime in the late '90s.  I was on my brother's team as a crew member at that point. 
Watching what she did at the time was pretty spectacular.  She has the heart of a champion, the drive to go out there and get it done. 
She was part of a great team back then.  She's going to be definitely a force to be reckoned with.  She's back with that same group of people.  It's great to have her back.  It's going to bring some more notoriety to have 'the girl' as she was always called back in our sport.  It's going to make for good times. 
We had a good rivalry racing early in my career when she was on the Army bike at DSR.  Good to have her back.  Brings back my drive to want to go out there and win even more. 

Q.  How much has that division changed over the last five, six years?
ANDREW HINES:  It's been way more competitive over the last five, six years.  There's multiple teams out there with multiple bikes.  People get a lot more information from each and every qualifying round.  Matt Smith had four bikes almost every race last year.  Multiple teams with two bikes, three bikes.
That makes it that much tougher because people have more information to tune off of.  You got riders that are excelling on the starting line, getting better as they finesse the bike down the track, tighter times near the front of the pack.  You have to be on your game every time you go up there.  Can't give up any time really on the starting line.  Everybody's going out there and trying to cut each other's throat. 
It's a great time to be associated with Pro Stock Motorcycle, something I'm going to look forward to for a long time to come. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Andrew has 38 career wins, which is third on the all-time list.  Angelle has 41.  The late great Dave Schultz has 45. 
Angelle talked about, when she came back, trying to run down Dave.  You're trying to probably run down Angelle and Dave.  Do you look at those numbers at all or is it the next day is the next day? 
ANDREW HINES:  Unfortunately I am a statistics guy.  I follow what numbers are happening at the time.  But realistically I just need to focus on one race after another. 
41 hopefully will come this year.  I'm always happy to get one a year.  That's just something that has happened every year for the last 11 years.  I think there's a running list of drivers that have won at least one race in consecutive seasons. 
Jason Line won the Winter Nationals this year.  We're good buddies.  He one upped me there.  I have to keep up pace with him.  Hopefully they'll keep coming after that. 
I have a great team that inspires me to go out there and put forth the best effort I can every single weekend.  Hopefully we can just keep racking them up. 

Q.  Andrew, have there been any off-season rules changes for the engines or weight distribution that might give one manufacturer the edge over another?
ANDREW HINES:  No.  Everything is the same as it was last year.  If you looked at the lap times and speeds all through the Countdown last year, it was very competitive between the four-cylinder Suzuki, the V-Twins, and the Harley Davidson.  We were running closest ETs, close speeds.  It was a matter of who had the better setup off the starting line. 
Our runs are pretty much make or break in the first 60 feet.  Got to make a good time off the starting time, have a good reaction time to go with it. 
NHRA kept the field exactly the same.  The only learning curve that the whole field is going to have is the new Sunoco fuel.  We've been running on the dyno.  Everybody is going to have to deal with the same issues whether it's good or bad.  We're going to go out there and see what it has to offer for this year. 

Q.  Is there a difference in octane rating?
ANDREW HINES:  It's got a little higher specific gravity.  It's 116 octane versus 113.  We're thinking it's going to actually open our tuning window a little bit.  Hopefully we'll have more consistency from run to run.  Last year, few years past, the octane may have been a little on the low side.  You really had to be spot on on your tune-up.  You had a small window that would make the bike go really fast.  We're hoping that will open the door a little bit to have a little more balance between being on that edge. 
Hopefully it's all good. 

Q.  Is there tangible proof that Harley Davidson actually gets a great benefit from being in this series, like Ford and Chevy are in NASCAR?  Is there a definite correlation to being in NHRA?
ANDREW HINES:  Absolutely.  We have a huge correlation with our Harley Davidson Midway truck that brings out all the new models every year.  People can go over there, sit on bikes, get pictures taken on the race bike.  We can get feedback and send our potential customers anywhere from now to three to six months out, send them to local dealers, get contact information. 
They've had success of many sales of motorcycles just based on the NHRA Midway.  They're getting positive feedback from that angle.  It's great that Harley Davidson got involved in the class over a decade ago and they're still pushing strong. 

Q.  Gainesville is known for records, known for miles per hour.  We've been talking about it for a couple years now, many calling the last major milestone in drag racing:  a Pro Stock Motorcycle going 200 miles an hour.  A couple years ago Eddie was very close.  Is that on the horizon?  Is it possible?  How much do you want to be the person who does it?
ANDREW HINES:  I'd obviously love to be the person that does it.  I was the first one to run under seven seconds in the quarter mile.  Coming up on the 10-year anniversary of that this weekend in Gainesville.  If I can add that to my list, that would be an awesome achievement. 
Right now we're still low enough on the horsepower where we really have to depend on Mother Nature to push us to 200 miles an hour.  We're not seeing those big enough strides in horsepower to achieve that extra speed on a normal run where we had a 75-degree racetrack, no tailwinds. 
Right now we need about a 15- to 20-miles an hour tailwind to push us in that direction.  The aerodynamics are a little off on all the motorcycles.  Gainesville is one of the fastest racetracks on the tour.  I've had good success there in the past. 
I'm not saying it's out of the question.  It could happen on the very first qualifying run.  It just depends on what air is in town.  We'll see what happens.  We have stout motorcycles that were putting up huge speeds at the end of the year.  There are going to be a lot of guys vying for it for sure.

Q.  The class has been ripe with rivalries for some years now.  Each year you are able to build on those rivalries in a respectful way.  We're seeing a new manufacturer coming into the sport.  You are with Harley Davidson.  Just the idea of multiple manufacturers, the number of manufacturers increasing, you representing your manufacturer against others that are in a competition for the motorcycle buyer in the grandstand, how does that stoke the flames of those rivalries and increase the intensity?
ANDREW HINES:  It's going to bring awareness to the whole class.  We're going to have more rivalries with guys that are riding those specific manufacturers in the stands.  It will get people talking about the class, get the excitement pumped up.  You might see a little more feuding from people on the racetrack, at the end of the racetrack, depending on how tempers flare, which way the win light turns on.
I've always had a pretty good rivalry with Matt Smith on a personal level.  We can talk and joke and things like that in the staging lanes, but when it comes down to the starting lines, you never know what's going to happen with us two.  Also there's the Harleys and the Hectors.  That's an ongoing battle that's going to go on. 
Something to bring a little more awareness to the Pro Stock Motorcycle group.  We want our Harleys to be on top.  We want people to go home feeling excited and go home and buy a V-Rod the next day. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Andrew, as always, thank you very much for your time.  We'll see you on that first qualifying session on Friday. 
ANDREW HINES:  Thanks, guys.  Can't wait. 

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