Rickie’s boy finally did it.
Since 2006, Matt Smith, the two-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion and son of iconic doorslammer champion Rickie Smith, finally sealed the deal at the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. And he did so in impressive fashion, winning from the No. 1 qualifying position and beating Andrew Hines in the final round.
“I’ve just never been able to do it before,” Smith said. “I’ve watched my dad do it a couple of times and it means a lot to me to win it. I always wanted to win the Gatornationals and leave here with the points lead because it’s always the first race of the year and I’ve never been able to do that, but I can say I’ve done it now and I’m leaving here with the points lead.”
Smith also joined Rickie in the winner’s circle, as the elder Smith won the Pro Modified division. Honestly, Smith couldn’t have written a better script than the one which played out Sunday.
“Wire-to-wire, we did no different than we did last race, just a different rider,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough about Denso, Lucas Oil, Mark Stockseth, Greg Butcher Trucking, everybody that helps us, Strutmasters. We can’t do it without all these people. We’re not making a lot of money out here right now because of this pandemic, so all these sponsors, it’s awesome for them to stick on board with us and get through this.”
As the pandemic-shortened season winds down, as Smith sees it, there was no better time to make a statement than now. He’s the first rider to pick up two wins in 2020.
“Andrew was in the finals last race against our teammate Scotty Pollacheck, and we beat them there and I held my end up and beat him here,” Smith said. “So right now, team MSR, we have the best team out here I think. We have the power to win this thing. We just got to keep everything together. Anything can happen at any time. But as far as just having the power right now, we have the power to win races and win this championship and that’s what we’re going after.”
Winning the NHRA U.S. Nationals and Gatornationals creates quite the tidal wave of momentum for Smith’s team.
“We’re pretty hateful,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good team right here. We’ve got to get Angie’s bike to run. Hers is running close to what ours is. It’s just not quite there. It’s just a little ticked off but if we can get her bike like mine, there’s no reason we can’t finish all three of us in those top five in points this year and that’s the goal. The goal is to win a championship but the other one is we all want to win a race and get everybody top five in the points. That’d be pretty awesome.”
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— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) September 20, 2020