NHRA Mello Yello Series finals: Andrew Hines survives first-round loss, holds on to win Pro Stock Motorcycle title

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November 17, 2019 10:21 PM

NHRA Mello Yello Series finals: Andrew Hines survives first-round loss, holds on to win Pro Stock Motorcycle title

Rookie Jianna Salinas wins at Pomona to upset title contenders

Susan Wade

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NHRA/National Dragster

Andrew Hines captured his sixth career NHRA title on Sunday at Pomona.

Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Andrew Hines’ dream season spiraled into a nightmarish wait Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona, California, after he fouled out in the first round.
His mission at Auto Club Raceway to claim a sixth series crown turned into what he called “a day that will live in fear” for him, for he had to keep an eye on both No. 2-ranked Jerry Savoie and No. 3 and then-current champion Matt Smith. If either had won the event, they would have claimed the title past Hines.
Neither pulled off the ambush, as rookie Jianna Salinas, who had slogged through a season fraught with only two round-wins, six failures to qualify, and a pride-bruising fall from her motorcycle in June during eliminations at Chicago, defeated them both.
Salinas reached, and won, her first final round by polishing off Smith in the semifinal as his engine went kaput at about the half-track mark to end his bid for a second straight and fourth overall title. Then Savoie’s season and quest for a second championship ended at the starting line: his Suzuki broke. He staged it anyway, in case Salinas fouled out on the launch. She didn’t, and that preserved Hines’ championship.

NHRA/National Dragster

The surprising win for Jianna Salinas on Sunday was her first in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcyle competition.

“It was absolutely agonizing. It was absolute insanity,” Hines said.
And his young son, Declan, was distraught about his father’s turn of ugly luck. But Hines said he told him, “You need to be strong so I don’t feel this so bad.”
The Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod racer said he was “comfortable with the bike my team gave me. I was thinking of all the bad things that could happen. All the bad stuff played in my head, and I capitalized on the negatives. Stupid error on my part. It’s really annoying. I put my team in a bad position. Those guys deserve way better. They lifted me up all day long. I wanted to go stick my head in the gas tank of the truck.”
He said he was ready “to hurl my guts out” when Smith prepped for his semifinal run, then thought before the final, “Jerry’s got this thing sewed up,” as he sat in his pit, surrounded by his team, family, and friends.

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But Hines survived what he called “the atrociousness of our class” — which admittedly included his own performance — and emerged for that sixth championship.
It capped a season that started with him winning seven of the first nine races and eight overall in 10 final rounds. Hines closed with a 44-8 eliminations record.
He said wife Tanya, who doesn’t usually weep at his victories, burst into tears when he learned he had won. He said he thought, “What’s with her? Is she crying because she’s happy I won the championship? Or is she crying because she’s happy I won’t be so miserable in the off-season?”
During qualifying, Smith offered Salinas a “bounty” on Hines. He told Salinas he would pay her $1,000 if she knocked off Hines in their opening-round match. He said he would pay her an extra $5,000 if he went on to win the race. Of course, Smith didn’t win, but he did pay Salinas $1,000 in cash Sunday. She said he would use the small windfall to pay bills. 
Meanwhile, a disappointed Savoie said the pivotal loss hurt.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” the 2016 champion said after missing out by 26 points.

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Source:https://autoweek.com/article/nhra/nhra-mello-yello-series-finals-andrew-hines-survives-first-round-loss-holds-win-pro

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