GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As the defending world champion, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Eddie Krawiec wants to keep that momentum going as the class opens its 2018 season at the 49th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 15-18 at Gainesville Raceway.
A five-time event winner, Krawiec, who won in Gainesville in 2017, also hopes to add another impressive performance on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to his resume at the legendary track.
But above all, Krawiec has something even more specific on his mind at the Pro Stock Motorcycle season-opener, all revolving around a historic first in the class.
“First and foremost, I want to go 200 mph,” Krawiec said. “I’m excited to go to Gainesville because I think we have 200 mph motorcycles. We’re going there and hammering down. For us, if the weather presents itself, we want to go 200 mph. We have great motorcycles that can capitalize on the weather conditions if it’s there, so if the opportunity presents itself, we need to capitalize. There’s four-to-five bikes in the class that can do it, but we want to be the first. Going 200 mph is our focus.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Krawiec were last year’s winners of the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals event. It is the first of 16 races in a loaded Pro Stock Motorcycle class, but that high level of competition continues to bring out the best in Krawiec.
He was dominant in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship en route to his fourth world title, but Krawiec remains driven to make history. That includes making the first 200 mph run, but he spoke glowingly of a class that continues to add depth. In Gainesville, he will face off against the likes of five-time champion Andrew Hines, 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, two-time world champ Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr., Scotty Pollacheck, Karen Stoffer, three-time champ Angelle Sampey, and Joey Gladstone.
“I only see this class getting tougher and you need to perform at that high level if you want to stay at the front of the pack,” said Krawiec, who has 43 career wins. “There’s 15-16 bikes that could be in the top 10. There’s really good bikes at every race and you’re going to have to be on your game. You have to elevate the way you race.”
Krawiec did that a year ago, when he won four playoff races and five of the final seven events, going 24-2 in eliminations during that span. Krawiec said that stretch was the best he has ever raced in his career, and he was certainly locked in, putting together incredible reaction times and one of the most impressive performances in Countdown to the Championship history. The goal now is carrying that level of focus and performance into 2018, but Krawiec expects nothing less heading into Gainesville.
“We’re very confident with the equipment we finished with at the end of the year,” said Krawiec, who has back-to-back wins in Gainesville. “We’re confident we can roll that right into (2018) and it’s going to be business as usual right off the trailer. We know the track and we know what this bike is capable of. We’ve run well (in Gainesville), it’s a great race with a great atmosphere and we expect to be good right off the bat.”