HERRERA REWRITES PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RECORD BOOK WITH NATIONAL RECORD, 12TH NO. 1 OF SEASON
The secret is out: Gaige Herrera is pretty darn good.
Herrera blasted onto the scene in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category in March with a win, the quickest pass of the weekend and a No. 1 qualifier award all in his first time out in NHRA competition.
Seven months laters, Herrera has amassed eight wins and 12 top-qualifier awards in 13 races, and on Saturday, added a national record to his already sterling resume.
Is there anything he can’t do?
Herrera reset the national record in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class Saturday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, barreling down the quarter-mile during qualifying session No. 3 with a 6.627-second lap at a whopping 204.16 miles per hour.
The pass bettered Karen Stoffer’s previous record of 6.665 from Gainesville in 2021.
As if that weren't enough, Herrera actually bettered the previous record twice, adding a 6.652 in Q4 aboard his Vance & Hines Suzuki.
“We kind of figured with the weather (we would run) a 64, but after seeing Pro Stock really not pick up that much, we didn’t think it would be possible,” Herrera said of his record-breaking run. “But we ran a 62 at 204 and it was a picture-perfect run. It was so smooth, it felt slow. I really didn’t think it went that fast. I went around the turnoff and one of the Safety Safari guys yelled that I went 204, so I figured I went like a 65, not a 62.
“We’re definitely happy about that. I was almost more excited about that than winning the race. It’s just a big accomplishment for all. Byron Hines back at the shop, he’s been working on the cylinder heads nonstop along with all of the other guys. It’s just showcasing how much they’ve been working at it. And Andrew (Hines) with this clutch setup. Everything just came together really well on that pass.”
With the quickest pass in PSM history and the second-fastest speed ever, Herrera obliterated the field in qualifying, finishing well ahead of No. 2 qualifier Kelly Clontz. Clontz had a 6.705 at 201.99 mph to record her best qualifying pass of the season.
Eddie Krawiec qualified third with a 6.714 at 203.92 mph, while Hector Arana Jr. (6.736) and John Hall (6.788) rounded out the top five. Herrera paced all four qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday.
Having led the championship wire-to-wire in 2023, Herrera can inch closer to sealing his first title Sunday with another strong showing in eliminations.
“I’ve still got to get this championship,” Herrera said. “Anything is still possible, but there’s already been a lot to take away from this season that I can’t put into words. A year ago today, I would not have thought I’d be in the position I am in, accomplishing as much as we have so far this season. I made a little joke to Andrew earlier that I might as well retire after this year. I don’t see that happening, but overall it has been an amazing ride.”
Herrera was equally excited to have Vance & Hines-powered bikes filling the top three spots on the ladder and predicted that this team will be tough to beat Sunday.
“I’ve got a fast motorcycle, so I feel if something doesn’t break or I don’t mess up, it’s going to be hard to beat us,” Herrera said. “I think tomorrow’s going to be very good for us competition-wise.”
With the field set, Herrera will race 2003 Denver winner Blaine Hale - making his first start since 2005 in the class - in Round One on Sunday.
“(My goal on Sunday) is just being consistent on the bike,” Herrera said. “With the wind and everything, it’s a little challenging. You’ve got to set your chassis up, and if you get that wrong at all on these motorcycles, it definitely affects you from about half track on and it makes them hard to ride. That’s going to be the biggest challenge I see tomorrow just trying to be consistent on the bike and adjusting for the conditions.”