By Lee Elder
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 18, 2018) – Eddie Krawiec didn’t get the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle speed record. He won the race instead.
Krawiec won the PSM final and captured victory in the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. It was the 48th career victory for Krawiec. He beat teammate Andrew Hines in the final.
“In the final Andrew and I both made changes to our bikes,” Krawiec said. “He went one way and I went the other. We agreed to try something different so we could learn. My bike responded better.”
Tanner Gray won in Pro Stock car, Jack Beckman was the Funny Car winner and Richie Crampton won the Top Fuel Top Fuel winner.
Krawiec related to the public-address audience that his team did not allow him to work on his motorcycle over the winter. The crew may be on to something because the Gatornationals weekend was the first race of the season for the PSM teams and they won it. It was Krawiec’s third straight win at the Gators.
“All I wanted (when he started racing) was one Wally,” Krawiec said. He has that, plus 47 more.
Krawiec and Hines had a crowd-pleasing staging duel before the final.
“We were having fun up there,” to winner said. “I heard him hit the gas a couple of times and I thought, ‘Okay, game on.’ So I waved him in. At that point, I knew I wasn’t going to stage first.”
Gray, who was still a high school student during the 2017 Gatornationals, joined his father (Shane) and grandfather (Johnny) as a Gatornationals winner. He beat defending Pro Stock champ Bo Butner in the final round by a tight victory margin of just .0224 of a second. Gray, who lost in the first round of the first two races of the season, said he did not expect to win Sunday.
“I was seeing how the traffic would be at one o’clock for my drive home,” Gray quipped.
Instead, his ride home started a bit later with a nice trophy in the hauler.
Gray said, “We had a completely different car today than yesterday … We did a lot of testing (since the start of the season) but we were banging our heads against the wall trying to get this car to act right. It looked like a race car today.”
Beckman set an NHRA record of sorts. He became the third consecutive top qualifier to win in Funny Car. It marked the first time in NHRA history that the top qualifier in Funny Car also won the race in the first three races of a season. The NHRA has opened its seasons at Pomona, Phoenix and Gainesville since 2012.
“There are fewer Funny Cars (at the races) than there used to be but it’s harder to win because of the quality of the cars,” Beckman said.
Beckman beat Matt Hagan in the final round and it was close. Beckman’s margin of victory was a scant .0104 of a second, roughly five feet, but it was Beckman’s first win at the Gators.
Crampton’s Top Fuel victory was anticlimactic. Shawn Reed unexpectedly qualified for the final but his car sprung a fuel leak on the starting line during the burnout and Reed was forced to shut off his engine without making his run. It was the first win of the season for Crampton.
“It wasn’t too long ago I was sitting on the bench reminiscing about when I used to be a Top Fuel driver,” Crampton said. Now he’s a Gatornationals winner.