National Hot Rod Association Media Conference
November 14, 2012
THE MODERATOR: I would like to welcome all the media and our world champion drivers who are joining us today on the teleconference as we feature the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world champions. On the call today we'll be joined by Top Fuel champion Antron Brown, Funny Car champ Jack Beckman, Pro Stock champ Allen Johnson and Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Eddie Krawiec.
First up today we'll begin with our NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec. This is Eddie's second consecutive world championship and his third title overall aboard the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson. He raced to nine victories and 11 final round appearances and pretty much dominated the competition in 2012.
Eddie, what have you done so far to celebrate your accomplishment?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Well, went to the banquet, and obviously after I gave my speech and moved forward, had sort of a good night, nice, relaxing night, got to hang out with all the friends and got to spend it with all the fellow racers and competitors of the NHRA series. That's been about it. I got home actually late last night and just getting the opportunity.
I'm back at work today already. The work never stops. We're moving forward. Obviously focusing on 2013, and just getting ready to get going again.
THE MODERATOR: This is your third championship. How does this one rate? Winning nine races in a season has got to be kind of cool.
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Yeah, this has been the dream season for sure. Looking back, as you said, 11 finals and nine wins, for me that's pretty much the most dominant season I've ever had in my career. To have the opportunity obviously to stand at the end with the Full Throttle trophy being the last one of our four‑year association with the Full Throttle brand, and next year we're going to have the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and I'm looking forward to contending for a championship for one of those.
I was lucky enough to be the final POWERade champion. Obviously I'm the final Full Throttle champion, and boy, hopefully it doesn't take that long to become a Mello Yello champion.
It's exciting, and for me they're all great championships. This one is better in different ways, obviously being the dominance all season long. Our Harley Davidson bikes won 15 out of 16 races this year. It definitely is exciting, and to be able to say at the end that I was the champion was great for me.
THE MODERATOR: When you look back at a season like this, when you and Andrew Hines, your teammate, were kind of winning every race, was that kind of a good distraction in terms of winning a championship; were you not really thinking about that, or were you guys kind of focused on trying to win every race in the season? And are you a little disappointed you didn't full it off because Michael Ray won in Dallas?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Yeah, as I said in my speech, they say you can't win them all, and well, Michael Ray was the guy that made it happen and he was the guy that stood there and said that quote. Hats off to those guys for getting it done.
For us, it was a little nerve wracking. Obviously we went through the whole preseason sort of as you'd like to call it for the Countdown to the Championship, and we won every single race, and Andrew and I are like, well, coming out of Indy, we're at the point where we're‑‑ hopefully the wheel doesn't fall off the wagon, because if we dominated like this in the preseason and something happens that we don't win the championship, it's going to look really bad. Although you still have an awesome season and it was great, you know, I'm sure we would have got our fair share of hecklers or pressure on us.
We had some adversity this year with getting 20 pounds put on us right after Gainesville, and then another 10 pounds after our win in Charlotte where we had to go to Dallas with an extra 10 pounds. But you know, you have to push that aside and just continue to move forward and not lose focus on what your common goal is, and the common goal all season long is obviously to win a championship.
For us we expect to go out there and do well, and if we don't, it's our own fault, it's nobody else's. It takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication from your team being out on the road all year long, and it's nice to be rewarded in the end.
Q. I was wondering with this being your third championship, does it have any more meaning because you were able to pull off a win at your home track this season?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: That's an awesome question, because yes, I've quoted myself many times after that saying, no matter what, if I didn't win the championship, my home track win is my championship. To do it in front of all my friends, family, just fans, everybody that supports me at Englishtown meant the world to me. That's the track that I grew up at. I started watching drag racing at the age of three, four years old. I started there, and my very first run on a Pro Stock Motorcycle was down that dragstrip. My earliest memories of everything is down that dragstrip.
For me to finally get a win at the track that sort of set up my whole career was just‑‑ it was unbelievable. I mean, to be totally honest, if I was to quit riding the day after that event, I would feel content in that my career was fulfilled.
Q. You actually showed a lot more emotion after that win, and not that you didn't show a lot of emotion on Saturday when you got the big trophy, but you could tell that there was a lot of emotion tied into that win, and congratulations on your season again.
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Yeah, it sure was. I appreciate it, and I had the emotion there on the Saturday one, but man, the Englishtown win for me, it's unbelievable.
Q. Harley Davidson, there isn't a brand that's more synonymous with the United States of America than that one. The Japanese brands are fine and there's a lot of inroads in the market with those, but to do this on the back of a Harley has got to mean a lot to you.
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Yeah, it sure does. Even one step further, we had Willie G at the race with us, and to go out there and, number one, wrap up the championship and, number two, win the event with Willie G standing there on the starting line is something special. He is an American icon as well as the Harley Davidson branding, and to be associated with that on an awesome weekend being veterans' weekend and all the stuff that was going on really just electrifies it that much more.
Harley Davidson is an icon. They're, as you say, synonymous with the U.S. branding, and not just U.S. branding but world branding. Everybody knows it. And to be associated with those guys and have my name in the record books and etched in there and part of the Harley Davidson racing history is just something that's unbelievable.
Q. Eddie, I'm wondering what was the conversation between you and Matt Hines when you failed to win that 10th race and tie his record?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: You know, I wanted to beat it. I wanted to tie him and I wanted to get there with him. Matt has done an awesome job, and as a crew chief this year, he made me step up to a level that I feel I should be at. And reason being is Matt is prepared and gave me an awesome prepared motorcycle all year long, could win almost pretty much any race. He wants us to win. That's his job is to make sure he supplies us with great motorcycles.
You know, he struggled a little bit as well as I did this past weekend. It doesn't look like we struggled, made it to the final, ran well, but Andrew's bike hasn't been running as well as mine has, so we made a lot of changes to Drew's and paid some attention to that just to make sure we could get all the kinks worked out of it. And with that being said, we struggled with getting mine off the starting line. We really couldn't figure out the key. I put a new tire on the bike this weekend, and I raced pretty much the whole entire middle half of the year and end of the year on one tire.
So when we changed the tire, it sort of threw our clutch setup and our chassis setup off a little bit. We were just struggling to find it. We were going some 1.06 and Andrew was going 1.04 60‑foot, so the ET gain that Andrew had was all made up in the first 300 feet of track. If I could have got mine right in its sweet spot like Andrew's I think it would have really gave me a good chance.
But I'm very happy with the way my season went. To record nine final rounds and win them in a total out of 11 is definitely something special. I think it was the most out of any pro category. I guess I have no room to complain.
Q. As a follow‑up, I know you've spoken about this before, the switch from four‑stroke to two‑stroke. How much of an off‑season thrash is that going to be for you guys, and do you almost see it as another penalty against Harley Davidson?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Well, you would be referring to the four‑valve versus two‑valve.
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Yeah, our Harleys are going from the four‑valve dual overhead cam engine, which is the basic exact duplicate of what comes in the factory motorcycle, the factory V‑Rod is a four‑valve dual overhead cam engine. NHRA saw fit to change the rules to make it where all the motors sort of reflect the same‑‑ the Suzuki is a two‑valve dual overhead cam engine; the Buell is going to be a two‑valve pushrod engine, as well as to make our bikes the exact same to try and equal performance and make the playing field a little more level they feel, they're taking our engine and converting it‑‑ making us convert it from a four‑valve dual overhead cam to a pushrod engine.
For us we're not exactly happy with the way it went because now it has zero resemblance to the way the American side of things were for our engine. They're just trying to make it more of the American pushrod engine. It's going to be a lot of work with three and a half months. We're going to have to do some reengineering and designing of the top half of the engine, and to be honest with you, right now we're hoping to have motorcycles for Gainesville because we have nothing that we can currently throw on our bike that is NHRA legal, and that's going to be a tough task.
If we can make it to Gainesville right now, we're going to be happy.
Q. Would you kind of tell everybody what it's like to be a three‑time champion and then maybe what would be your best recommendation to somebody out there, any racer wanting to be a champion?
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Well, obviously regardless of whether you're a one‑time, three‑time, 10‑time champion, I think the key there is be proud of what you achieved, whether it's once or 10 times or three times, because you can be a champion one year, and the following year you can be in 10th place or not even qualify for it. It really is something to be grateful for.
Race wins are to be grateful for. Any round win is to be grateful for. It's a tough task out here. There are no gimmes. There's no easy racing. Every round is tough.
I think you need to hang your head high and be proud of it because there's definitely more lows than there are highs in drag racing.
For me this season, like I say, has been a dream season, to be able to go to all those final rounds, win those races, I think I had 47 round wins total, I think if I'm correct, Allen Johnson was the only guy to have more round wins than me, and those guys go to roughly nine more races than we do.
To look at that statistically just shows you how good my year was, and to reflect back on it, really it makes it very exciting.
But looking forward‑‑ you know, most people have to look at it and take it as a goal‑achieving, let's just say, program. That's the way I started. You've got to look at race wins first or round wins, and round wins equal race wins and race wins equal championships.
That's the way I went about it, and I think the key thing is not to lose focus and look at the small picture rather than the big picture because if you look at the small picture, the big picture will grow.
THE MODERATOR: Eddie, congratulations once again, and thanks so much for joining us here today on the call.
EDDIE KRAWIEC: Thanks for having me, and I just would like to congratulate the other three, Allen Johnson, Jack Beckman and Antron Brown for their great seasons. Obviously it shows you that NHRA Full Throttle drag racing is at the top of its game when you can see some finals in Pomona the way it happened, and I just want to thank everybody for that and have a happy holidays, and I look forward to racing in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
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