Matt Smith on Victory Gunner takes Final Round Win in Pomona

NHRA Pro Stock

Matt Smith

Matt Smith

Photo: NHRA

If you’re only going to win one race in a season, many racers seem to most enjoy winning the final contest, and that was the case for Matt Smith, who logged his 18th victory by defeating longtime rival Angelle Sampey, who red-lighted with a -.020 light in the final.

Another major highlight for Smith was his second-round defeat of Eddie Krawiec, which knocked him out of contention for the NHRA Mello Yello championship. Said Smith, “The second round was huge for us. To beat Eddie Krawiec, he’s a great competitor. [The Harleys] are No. 1. To put him on the trailer and to tell him, ‘You know what, you can’t win the championship this year. We just defeated you. To capitalize on all that and to win the race was very big for us.”

“We’ve had a fast bike,” said Smith. “But man, we’ve had a lot of electrical problems and transmission issues. We finally solved that about four races ago. We kind of struggled with our tune-up in qualifying, but it came around today. We were fast, and I did my job on the Tree. The Lord was with us. That’s all I can say. To give Victory their first win with NHRA was huge. Now we can go forward for next year. We’ve got new bikes and new motors coming, and we’ve also got two more riders, a guy and a girl using our engines next year, and that will help us gauge our performance. So if they are way faster than us, then I’ll know I’m doing something wrong.”

Smith credited his team for his victorious day. "Everybody says that they have the best crews in the world,” Smith said. “But my guys have stuck with me in a great way. Nobody has complained about the long hours. Most of the times, we’re the last one working at night. We run three to four bikes out of our camp. We’ve got a couple of crew guys, and they go way above and beyond in doing their job. And my wife, Angie, is doing the fuel injection and helping me tune it. Lucas Oil came onboard with us this year, and Nitro Fish has been with us forever. I can’t thank everybody enough for all their help.”

Andrew Hines

Andrew Hines

Photo: NHRA

Based on their tremendous record, few expected that the Harley-Davidson V-Rod entries of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, both contenders for this year’s NHRA Mello Yello world championship, would lose in the second round.

Defending champion Hines, who qualified fourth with a 6.856, was outrun by eventual event runner-up Angelle Sampey, 6.879 to 6.912, and never seemed to be running at his full potential during the weekend.

Said Hines, “To tell you the truth, we had the bike detuned for the fourth qualifying session to make sure that I would stay on the opposite side of the ladder from Eddie because it was our game plan to be in the position to meet each other in the final. But when we tuned up for today, we just didn’t go far enough to get back into the window of maximum performance.”

Eddie Krawiec

Eddie Krawiec

Photo: NHRA

Eddie Krawiec had by far the better-running Harley this weekend; he qualified just .003-second behind polesitter Jerry Savoie with a 6.828 and ran low e.t. of the first round, 6.850, to best a red-lighting Shawn Gann.

Krawiec came back in round two with a 6.871 that was very impressive for the warm track conditions, but his .063 light enabled Matt Smith to win with numbers of .029 and 6.912. “That’s racing,” said Krawiec after the run. "I got the bike down the track pretty well, but you can’t be having a light in the .60s, especially in the second round. It didn’t feel like a .60 when I left, but the time slip said differently, and I wasn’t able to capitalize on my performance advantage.”

After his defeat, Krawiec graciously congratulated Jerry Savoie on his championship campaign. “Jerry did a great job this year. He did what he had to do. Even if he had lost that close race to Steve Johnson in the second round, he still would have been the champion [because of the narrow points lead he had built in qualifying].”

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE (following the 16 of 16 events)

Position Rider Team Points
1. Jerry Savoie Savoie's Alligator Farm Suzuki 2595
2. Eddie Krawiec Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson 2571
3. Andrew Hines Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson 2564
4. Angelle Sampey Precision Service Equipment Buell 2495
5. Chip Ellis PiranaZ Buell 2415
6. Matt Smith Nitro Fish Victory 2389
7. LE Tonglet Nitro Fish Suzuki 2372
8. Hector Arana Jr. Lucas Oil Buell 2315
9. Cory Reed Precision Service Equipment Buelli 2312
10. Hector Arana Sr. Lucas Oil Buell 2279

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