Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell’s Matt Smith clinched his second-career NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Championship in style with a clutch win at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After winning two of the last three events, Smith held a sizable lead in the standings before entering the penultimate event in Las Vegas and clinched the title, and the $75,000 bonus that accompanies it, after winning the final round against White Alligator Suzuki’s Jerry Savoie.
“With me winning the [Pro Stock Motorcycle] championship and dad winning the Pro Mod championship it’s been great,” Smith said. “I don’t know what else I could ask for. This Viper team has been awesome. I don’t want to sound too confident, but we’ve almost been unstoppable. We’ve been to 10 finals since Epping and have six wins. Those are amazing numbers for our team.”
En route to the 17th win of his career, Smith opened eliminations with a 6.97 win over Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Andrew Hines and then padded his points total with a 7.04 to 7.07 win against 2010 NHRA champion LE Tonglet’s Nitro Fish Suzuki. Smith reached the final round after a win over PiranaZ Buell’s Shawn Gann in the final four.
“I haven’t slept very well in three or four nights,” Smith said. “In 2008 I thought I had the title wrapped up and we had an electrical failure and it cost us. You never know when something stupid might happen. That was in the back of my mind all day. We didn’t make good runs early in the day but we made a pretty bold tuning call; I don’t want to say what I did, but it worked and it’s something we can use for the next time we come here.”
With the pressure of the championship behind him, Smith also revealed his plans for the final event of the season coming up in Pomona, California, in two weeks.
“I’m going to do something different,” Smith said.” I’m going to put Scotty [Pollacheck] on my bike and try to get him a win. Angie’s [Smith] bike came around this weekend and John ran well, but I’m going to focus on the other three riders. I’m still going to race, but I’m going to give up my ride.”
Savoie, who has spent the better part of the 2013 season recovering from neck surgery, moved into the second final round of his career following a strong performance that included wins over Scotty Pollacheck, Angie Smith, and Sovereign/Star Buell’s Michael Ray