MATT SMITH PREVAILS AT JOLIET ON PRO STOCK BIKE LADIES DAY AT DRAG RACES
The Harley-Davidson contingent and Hector Arana Jr. could have hogged all the Pro Stock Motorcycle victories this season, as well as they’ve been performing. But it was only a matter of time before reigning champion Matt Smith made his statement.
And Sunday was the day.
Smith defeated Karen Stoffer in the final round of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill., to become only the third winner in the class in 2019.
He used a 6.807-second elapsed time and 198.88-mph speed on the Route 66 Raceway quarter-mile to top Stoffer’s 6.885, 193.71 on the Stoffer Enterprises Suzuki and earn a repeat victory here. In 2018, he defeated L.E. Tonglet in the final.
“Our Red Rocket showed up. This Denso Sparkplugs EBR motorcycle was on kill today. All in all, we were the quickest bike every round all day,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough about my crew, [wife and teammate] Angie, and everybody who helps us. I had a good day.”
Smith remains in fourth place in the standings as action shift this coming weekend to the Menard’s Heartland Nationals presented by Minties. Stoffer, racing in her first final round at the suburban-Chicago facility, improved one place to fifth in the rankings.
He did it with the help of a trusty engine.
“We needed to get a win for this year, so we pulled out the champion motor,” Smith said. “We’ve got to get it fresh. It’s going back to Elite to get honed after this race. She’ll be better. It’s worn out. But it was pretty fast today. It’ll be better when she shows up when we decided to pull it back out.”
The engine was reliable enough still to get the King, N.C., racer to the No. 2 qualifying position as he set top speed of the meet, as well, at 200.00 mph in time trials.
Smith eliminated Steve Johnson, Angelle Sampey, and his wife Angie Smith on the way to his second final round this year. Stoffer the No. 9 qualifier, from Gardnerville, Nev., reached the final by defeating Ryan Oehler, Eddie Krawiec, and Hector Arana Jr.
It was day thatstarted out looking like Ladies Day at the Drag Races. Stoffer was one of five females to win among the first-round pairings. A record six females qualified for the 16-racer field.
But in the end, Matt Smith denied Stoffer her first victory since the 2015 Norwalk race to share the winners circle with Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), and Deric Kramer (Pro Stock).