It is far from official but Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell’s Matt Smith took a huge step towards his second NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship with a convincing victory at this weekend’s Auto-Plus Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania. Smith’s second-career win at the scenic Maple Grove Raceway pushed his lead to 125 points over Hector Arana Jr., giving him a bit of breathing room as the series heads into its final two events.
Smith, who won his first World Championship in 2007, has had the dominant bike during the NHRA’s six-race playoffs - the Countdown to the Championship. After struggling at times this season, he has now won two races in a span of seven days, backing up last weekend’s victory in St. Louis with another title in Reading. This time, Smith got the best of his arch rival, Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Eddie Krawiec in the final round, winning by a 6.93 to 6.96 count.
“First off, I can’t say enough about our crew,” Smith said. “We hurt our good motor [Saturday], but things worked out for us. All in all, we beat big competitors in the semifinals and final, extended our points lead… I’m really happy right now.
“We’ve worked all year to build a winning team and it has all come together at the right time. We had a plan coming into this season and for the most part we stuck with it and I’m glad we did.”
One of just a handful of NHRA pros that still builds his own engines and tunes his own bike, Smith qualified fourth in the field with a 6.88, just a few hundredths of a second behind Sovereign/Star Buell’s Michael Ray. Smith began eliminations with a free pass after rookie Chaz Kennedy, making his first start on the Sovereign/Star Buell, red-lighted. John Hall - Smith’s teammate - also left the starting line too soon and fouled. In the semi finals, Smith took care of business against Ray, with a 6.99 to 7.00.