Harley-Davidson Team Wins Rounds in Houston
It was the 22nd birthday of Tonglet. He tried to make this day a special day. Today he gives the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team its first victory of the season during Sunday's O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. Tonglet and teammate Andrew Hines both came up short on that goal, but they aren't short on motivation to get ready for the next race.
Tonglet earned two round victories before falling to eventual race winner Karen Stoffer in the semifinals. It was the first time Tonglet made a semifinal appearance since the fall event in Las Vegas (October 2004). Tonglet beat Matt Smith in the first round, recording a 7.196-second pass at 186.54 before winning his second-round matchup against Craig Treble, going 7.210 at 183.02. He posted a 7.266 run at 179.78 in the loss.
"Going to the semi is a big boost, especially since I haven't been there for a while," Tonglet said. "It's a big step for me and I'm just trying to stay focused and get this Screamin' Eagle team a victory as soon as possible. The Screamin’ Eagle V-Rod is a great bike and it's capable of going rounds and we'll make it to a final round shortly."
The team was more disappointed they were unable to continue the performance they started at the season-opening race in Gainesville in March. There, Hines recorded the first sub-seven-second run in NHRA history. Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod to a 6.991 pass at 196.10 for the history-making marks.
The Houston crowd, however, didn't get to see the same numbers.
"We came out and went real fast in testing and I think we just lost our place a little with the setups," Tonglet said. "Once we get it figured out, it is going to be difficult to beat these two Harleys."
Hines suffered his first opening round loss of the season, falling to Stoffer. Hines posted a 7.199 run at 183.42. The highlight for Hines was the high qualifying position. He had the top spot after two rounds of qualifying on Friday and just slipped into the No. 2 place with a 7.067 run at 195.73, good enough for the track speed record.
"We had three completely different weather conditions on all three days," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "It was a tuners race and this was a good way to get ready for the rest of the season. I think the team is a lot stronger from having to make so many adjustments in one weekend."
Andrew Hines had his worst reaction time of the season with a .209 start. By comparison, Stoffer aided her victory with a .070 reaction time.
"I got a little out of my routine in the first round, but the loss is no one's fault but my own," Hines said. "I should have had a better reaction time. We had two really quick bikes in qualifying and then we came out here Sunday and lost on our tune-up. We threw ourselves a curveball, but we're all happy that GT earned a couple of round wins.
"Hopefully we can figure out what happened soon and come back twice as strong. We need to get back out here and prove how good these bikes are and win some races."
Team crew chief Byron Hines said the team is working out the kinks that always come with having two new bikes on the racetrack. The Screamin Eagle/Vance & Hines team had just one event (Gainesville) and a handful of test passes on the new motorcycles before they came to Houston.
"We're making continual improvements and everything will be fine," he said. "We just have a few things to iron out with the new equipment. I think we're finally getting a handle on what the new chassis can do and we're making the necessary adjustments. Coming to Houston, which can sometimes be a tricky racetrack, put us behind the eight ball a little.
"You have to have all the bases covered before getting to the race. I know I keep saying it, but the competition level keeps rising and you can't make any mistakes and expect to win. We know what needs to happen to make the bikes more consistent and we're ready for that. These bikes are real fast when everything is right."
The next NHRA POWERade event that features the Pro Stock Motorcycle category is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, May 12-15.
Baytown, April 11, 2005
Source: Harley-Davidson news from Powersports Network
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