Matt Smith goes 200, strikes Hot in Dry Pomona

Matt Smith rode to a track record speed of 200.65 mph with a 6.774 ET to lead the Pro Stock Motorcycle field on his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR at the 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. Points leader Smith was the quickest in both qualifying sessions, extending his lead over second place Eddie Krawiec and the rest of the field.

“All in all, it was a good day for us,” Smith said. “We made two passes and were No. 1 for both runs. I got eight bonus points. We just have to go and win the race now and win the championship, no matter what anybody else does. That’s our goal.”

Matt talked about the benefits of testing after Vegas. “We could 60 good, we could run good on the other end, but we just couldn’t ET.  So we worked on just 330 numbers, picked it up, and it translated to here.”

Matt Smith and Ferris Webb

Matt also talked about the Pomona weather, which is exceptionally dry. “I thought my weather station was broke at first. I went and checked at Elite (Pro Stock Car team and MSR partner) and they said it was the same.” Elite had gone so far as swapping out their weather station to check for accuracy. Who carries a spare weather station?

“I’ve never run in this kind of dry air with this body style and engine package. I just threw some numbers together and it all worked. We ran fast.”

Smith won the championship in 2007 and 2013. “In ’07, we had to win the race to win the championship, about like the position we’re in now.”

Fourth in points Hector Arana Jr. qualified second with his pass of 6.824 at 198.96 on his Lucas Oil TV EBR and LE Tonglet is third (in points and qualifying) with his run of 6.828 at 196.39. Krawiec is fifth behind Jerry Savoie.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.774, 200.65; 2. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.824, 198.96; 3. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.828, 196.39; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.848, 194.74; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.864, 197.77; 6. Joey Gladstone, Buell, 6.880, 196.30; 7. Chip Ellis, Harley-Davidson, 6.880, 194.80; 8. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.885, 197.57; 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.885, 194.49; 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.886, 194.60; 11. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.893, 196.64; 12. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.895, 193.40; 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.898, 191.29; 14.

Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.952, 191.40; 15. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.953, 194.86; 16. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.978, 193.99. Not Qualified: 17. Kelly Clontz, 7.013, 191.57; 18. Anthony Vanetti, 7.074, 188.94; 19. Angie Smith, 7.081, 163.63; 20. Maurice Allen, 7.114, 186.64; 21. Melissa Surber, broke.

Top Fuel

Southern California native Leah Pritchett raced to the top of the Top Fuel class with her 3.649-second pass at 329.34 mph in her Mopar Dodge dragster during the second session. She is seeking to secure her fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 11th of her career.

“When you have this horsepower weather and this time of day you can just feel the energy,” Pritchett stated. “The reason why there’s a smile on our faces is that we were able to execute what we wanted to do. Tomorrow we’re not going to have these same conditions so that’s why we’re excited we were able to capitalize on it tonight.”

Clay Millican is qualified second with his pass of 3.702 at 327.19 in his Great Clips / Parts Plus dragster and three-time world champion Antron Brown is third with his run of 3.704 at 329.50. 2018 Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence is qualified fourth as he seeks to make history by sweeping the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship events.

Top Fuel — 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.649 seconds, 329.34 mph; 2. Clay Millican, 3.702, 327.19; 3. Antron Brown, 3.704, 329.50; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.704, 327.35; 5. Blake Alexander, 3.711, 330.88; 6. Billy Torrence, 3.711, 328.86; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.740, 319.29; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.756, 319.52; 9. Scott Palmer, 3.767, 328.38; 10. Brittany Force, 3.772, 324.28; 11. Tony Schumacher, 3.792, 326.24; 12. Terry McMillen, 3.794, 325.61; 13. Shawn Reed, 3.858, 312.35; 14. Mike Salinas, 4.211, 208.20; 15. Cameron Ferre, 4.946, 144.75; 16. Audrey Worm, 7.731, 92.70.

Funny Car

Two-time defending event champion Tommy Johnson Jr.’s second qualifying run of 3.881 at 328.54 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T locked-in the top spot. He is seeking to secure his fourth consecutive No. 1 qualifying position this season.

“It’s incredible they have had such a handle on the car,” said Johnson. “I wish we could get that handle on Sunday but we are pretty close. I’m disappointed we didn’t get it done quick enough in the Countdown but at the same time I’m excited because it is such a good car now. If we can carry that on to next year I would love it.”

Teammate Jack Beckman is in the second spot with his pass of 3.901 at 323.35 while reigning Funny Car world champion Robert Hight sits in the third position. Current points leader J.R. Todd is in the No. 11 spot.

Funny Car — 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.881, 328.54; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.901, 323.35; 3. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.936, 325.69; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.936, 305.29; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.948, 320.66; 6. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.950, 320.97; 7. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.965, 316.15; 8. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.029, 307.30; 9. Ray Martin, Camry, 4.183, 259.31; 10. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.217, 230.06; 11. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.220, 310.13; 12. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.253, 260.56; 13. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.256, 214.62; 14. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.276, 255.15; 15. Bob Bode, Mustang, 4.346, 205.76; 16. John Force, Camaro, 4.386, 206.54. Not Qualified: 17. Cruz Pedregon, 4.396, 204.14; 18. Jeff Diehl, 4.632, 190.35; 19. Jonnie Lindberg, 5.639, 122.74.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. at Gainesville

Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is currently No. 2 in the Pro Stock Car points standings, raced his JEGS.com/EliteMotorsports Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.527 pass at 211.39 in the second round of qualifying.

“We made two really nice runs today,” Coughlin Jr. stated. “After Q1 we were on the poll and seeing some of our competitors bettering that mark ahead of us during the last three pair of Pro Stock were lower in the boom. I was concerned with the right lane because a lot of cars were getting loose out there and thought it was going to be tough to improve. When I let the clutch out the car just went singing down the track and it felt great.”

Teammate Erica Enders is currently in the second spot after racing a 6.530 at 211.39 in her Melling Performance/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro. Championship points leader Tanner Gray is currently qualified fourth.

Pro Stock Car — 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.527, 211.39; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.530, 211.39; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.531, 211.56; 4. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.537, 209.59; 5. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.550, 211.39; 6. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.550, 210.18; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.557, 212.09; 8. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.558, 211.03; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.560, 211.89; 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.562, 211.43; 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.570, 210.50; 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.590, 209.20; 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.612, 208.55; 14. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.615, 209.88; 15. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.697, 207.27; 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.738, 196.36. Not Qualified: 17. Steve Graham, 7.091, 157.19; 18. Tom Huggins, 7.481, 142.03; 19. Vincent Nobile, 12.494, 71.25.

Qualifying at the 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals continues Saturday at 12:00 p.m.

photos by Tim Hailey story by NHRA and Hailey

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply