Matt Smith is a savvy Pro Stock Motorcycle racer and a star in the class.
Smith won PSM world titles in 2007, 2013 and 2018 and he also has a U.S. Nationals victory on his resume from 2013.
The King, N.C., rider is back at the U.S. Nationals this weekend and will try to add another line on his impressive career resume.
“We’ve always run good here. I think we’ll run really good here this weekend,” Smith said.
Smith was strong Friday in Q1 with a 6.874-second elapsed time at 197.02 mph to put himself second on the ladder.
Smith arrived at Indy third in points in his Erik Buell Racing motorcycle but said it has been a daunting task competing against the vaunted Vance & Hines Harley Davidson team of Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec and Angelle Sampey. Hines and Krawiec are No. 1 and No. 2 in the points chase and Sampey, in her first year with the Vance & Hines team, is ninth in points.
“This is NHRA and they always get their way of helping the Harleys out,” Smith said. “That’s the team that doesn’t need all the help. They have got all the money out here and to get all the help too of whatever they want, whenever they want if they get behind. It’s pretty sad for our sport. But we’ll still keep trucking, me and the wife (Angie) in our little shop. Not the big shop that’s 35 employees and takes 35 minutes for a shop tour. We’ll I keep plugging away and keep wearing them boys out.”
Hines, a five-time world champion, (2004-2006, 2014-15) has had a career-year in 2019, already winning a career-season best seven races this year and he has appeared in eight finals in nine races.
Since the debut of the FXDR body for the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver July 19-21, Hines has a 11-0 record in elimination rounds.
“It’s a good rivalry,” said Smith of the competition between him and Hines. “I just wish it was on level playing ground. That’s the whole key to this class. I have nothing against Eddie, I have nothing against Andrew, I have nothing against Angelle. It’s Harley Davidson themselves. And then the fact of team Vance & Hines. They dictate our class and what rules get taken to certain people and it’s really unfair for the whole class because if you look at their deal, they control the way the Suzukis run. They control the way the Harleys run, and nobody can get Harleys. Nobody can buy them. Nobody can build one. So, they have 60% to 65% of the class in the palm of their hands to dictate how they run. And the reason we run well is because we control our own destiny with the Buells.
But the problem is, they control what NHRA throws down to us. They don’t allow us this, they don’t allow us that. Just like they took the belly pan away from us in Sonoma. Just stupid stuff when they get everything. Those guys over there, they wouldn’t have the 50 plus wins, 40 plus wins, whatever they’ve got over there, if they didn’t have Harley-Davidson. If they were on a Suzuki or they were on a V-Twin, a Buell besides Harley, and abiding by the same rules as what everybody else has, they wouldn’t even be in the 30s (with career) wins.”
The biggest issue Smith had with the belly pan issue was when NHRA decided to enforce a rule change.
“I haven’t seen that much of a difference with it,” Smith said. “It was just a lot more work on us and just the timing of it. It’s just funny how we have our Mickey Thompson battle out there (in Sonoma, Calif., July 26-28) and out of eight contestants, five were EBRs that had to change the belly pan, and there were three Harleys in it. The way NHRA wrote the rules, it was like, if you don’t change this by Sonoma you don’t get to run. We’re not going to let you run. They wanted a 3-bike shootout. We kind of spoiled that, but they still won the deal (Hines was the champion of the Mickey Thompson Bike Battle). Angie and I lost in the semifinals. Her bike wouldn’t start and mine had an issue going on that it wouldn’t stay running.”
Since Sonoma, Smith’s team has been plenty busy.
“We tested three different times and have done a lot of Dyno work with brand-new motors,” Smith said.
Smith said the test sessions were one day in Mooresville (N.C.) and two days in Richmond.
“We liked the results,” Smith said. The red bike showed very, very promising results. If it shows what it showed in testing, can’t nobody touch us. We’ll be ahead of everybody.”
Angie Smith enters Indy – the final race of the regular season – before the top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle – compete in the six-race Countdown to The Championship – sixth in points. Scotty Pollacheck, a teammate to the Smiths, is 11th in points.
Angie was eighth on the qualifying ladder with a 6.928-second run at 195.11 mph. Pollacheck was ninth at 6.973 seconds at 193.21 mph.
“I think the main things is, I’m locked in (the Countdown), we want to try to keep Angie in, which shouldn’t be a problem,” Matt said. “As long as she qualifies, I think she’ll be in with no problem. The goal is to try to get Scotty in. He’s had a very good bike all year long. He’s just been struggling coming back over from a Suzuki to the V-Twin. He started turning the corner in Norwalk. And we he made good strides in Denver, Norwalk and Sonoma. We just have to keep those results going to have a shot of getting him in.”
Smith knows once he’s in the Countdown the true rivalry will begin with the Vance & Hines team as they all chase that prestigious world championship.
“Well, they can win all the races they want in the regular season. Those last six are what counts and we’re going to show them what we got these last seven because we’re going to pull out all the stops at Indy. I want to win Indy this year,” Matt said.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019