Gaige Herrera took his eighth win of the season and widened his lead in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown to the Championship standings with a victory over his Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki teammate Eddie Krawiec at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis on Sunday.
- Gaige Herrera qualified No. 1 for a record 11th time, reset the track’s elapsed-time record, and won his eighth race of the season.
- Eddie Krawiec qualified third and advanced to his second final-round appearance of the season.
Continuing to display total domination over the Pro Stock Motorcycle class on his Gen 3 Hayabusa, Herrera qualified in the top starting spot for a class-record 11th time this season with a 6.716-second/201.79 mph run on Friday evening.
Herrera set a new track elapsed-time record in the first round of eliminations with a 6.701-second/201.88 mph victory over Joey Gladstone (6.780 seconds/200.17). After making a 6.706-second/202.45 mph solo bye run in round two Herrera met Chase Van Sant in the semi-final round, where he equaled his qualifying time with a 6.716-second/202.12 mph pass to defeat Van Sant (6.800 seconds at 198.85 mph). The victory set up an all-Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki final-round matchup between Herrera and Eddie Krawiec for the second time this season.
In the finals, Herrera again denied Krawiec his 50th career win, showing no mercy with a 6.728-second/201.79 mph victory over his teammate, who ran 6.761 seconds at 201.52 mph. The win, Herrera’s eighth of the season, widened his lead in the Countdown standings to 99 points over second-place Matt Smith.
“I had a great motorcycle all through qualifying and eliminations. It was the one to beat. Having an all-Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki final is awesome. I went into it with lane choice, but we decided to flip a coin in the pits and Eddie won, so he took the better of the two lanes. I outran him, but it was a great, close final. I can’t ask for anything better,” Herrera said. “It gives me a lot of momentum and I’m excited to go to Dallas with a bigger lead in the Countdown points.”
After advancing to the semi-final round a week ago in Charlotte, Krawiec arrived in St. Louis on a mission to close the points gap to riders ahead of him in the Countdown standings. He got his weekend off to a strong start by qualifying third with a 6.773-second/201.25 mph run.
Krawiec ran 6.748 seconds at 201.40 mph in round one to beat Ryan Oehler, who fouled on the starting line, then advanced out of round two with a 6.760-second/201.28 mph second-round victory over Jianna Evaristo, who also fouled. In a huge semi-final matchup against Matt Smith, Krawiec beat Smith off the starting line, blasting to a 6.747-second/201.94 mph win over his opponent, who ran 6.782 seconds at 202.70 mph.
The crucial victory sent Krawiec to his second final-round matchup against Herrera this season, where he came up just short of winning his 50th career race. Despite the loss, Krawiec closed his gap to Smith to 30 points and now sits in fourth place just 3 points behind third-place Hector Arana, Jr. going into the final three-race stretch of the Countdown.
“I had a great Hayabusa all weekend. To run 6.70s at over 201 mph every pass shows how much progress we’ve made with my motorcycle over the past couple of races.” Krawiec said. “The win against Matt Smith was huge. It has the potential to be a championship-deciding round by keeping him from having an opportunity to get closer to Gaige in the points. Right now, it’s really a race for second place for everyone else, and we’re in great shape.”
For Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki crew chief Andrew Hines, the team is building momentum at the most critical part of the season.
“We made the right calls at the shop this week to overhaul a few things and work on Eddie’s program so he could help Gaige as a blocker and that worked out great. After the final round Eddie said this is the best package he’s had in his career,” Hines said. “We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing all season to keep the momentum going. We have two formidable Hayabusa’s that will be a problem for every other competitor in the last three races.”
With three races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship, Herrera and Krawiec sit first and fourth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings with 2,430 and 2,301 points, respectively.
The Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki team is back in action Oct. 12-15 at the NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, TX.