The past week has been full of frustration for reigning NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Matt Smith.
Smith wasn’t happy about the perennial powerhouse Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team of Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec and Angelle Sampey getting to debut a new FXDR body over the weekend at the Mile-High Nationals – a race Hines won.
Then, Sunday, when Smith was departing Denver, the NHRA tech department informed Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors it was making some rule changes for use of the Erik Buelll Racing (EBR) body in competition. The body Smith campaigns.
Despite the distractions, Smith captured the No. 1 qualifying spot at the Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals.
Smith’s elapsed time of 6.779 seconds at a track record 200.83 mph in Q1 Friday earned the King, N.C., rider the top spot after four qualifying sessions were completed.
This was Smith’s 34th No. 1 qualifying position of his career and third this season. He also was No. 1 on the ladder in Las Vegas and Denver and he has yet to win from the top qualifying spot this year. He faces Jianna Salinas in round one Sunday.
“I like it (being qualified No. 1), but my wife (Angie) hates it,” Matt said. “She says we don’t do good from the No. 1 spot, but Pomona last year we were No. 1 qualifier and won the race and won the championship. We’re going to try and get two hats this weekend. We have the green one (for being No. 1 qualifier) and we want to get the yellow one (for winning the race).”
During the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, a race within the race, Saturday, Smith, the defending champion, lost in the second round to eventual Bike Battle champion Andrew Hines.
Smith’s motorcycle died as it was getting ready to stage. He did get it started and clocked a 6.909-second time, while Hines edged him with a 6.907-second lap.
“We have a little glitch going on with our bike,” Matt said. “I don’t know what is going on. It doesn’t want to stay running. She (Angie) is downloading the run while I do this interview and we will get back and get this Denso, Lucas Oil, Mark Stockseth bike back ready for (Sunday).“
Matt Smith defeated Ryan Oehler in round one of the Bike Battle and his wife Angie upended Angelle Sampey in the first round of the Bike Battle, but also lost in round two to Eddie Krawiec.
“(Saturday) this was a race within a race, and we failed at that,” Matt said. “We both won first round, but then we both had problems in second round. We just have to go back and reset, double check everything. Her bike broke a fuel pump wire and that’s easy to fix and mine, we just have to figure out what sensor it is. Hopefully, that’s what it is and nothing internal in the harness, but we will not know until (Sunday) in first round. We are going to change the sensors and go back up there and see what we can do (Sunday).”
Smith did offer his thoughts on the tire flip to choose the pairings for the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle.
“It was fun,” Matt said. “I was a nervous wreck there at the end because there were two spots to go and Angie and Ryan and my person hadn’t picked my number. I was like that’s going to really suck if I have to race my wife first round. Luckily, we didn’t have to race each other, and we both won first round and we came up a little short in second round. We will be ready (Sunday). Hopefully we can both turn on the wins lights and put a Smith and Denso bike in the finals. They say it is going be hot (Sunday) and what we took from (Saturday) we will learn from it.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019