2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

| June 4, 2018

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results – A lot has happened to Matt Smith so far this season and not much of it has been positive.

The two-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion began the season as a member of Joe Riccardi’s San Marino Suzuki team but that partnership lasted just one race. Smith failed to qualify at the season-opener in Gainesville and the partnership dissolved a short time later. Left with few options, Smith brought out his Victory-bodied bike, which had been mothballed after he lost his corporate funding at the end of the 2017 season, at the Chicago round of the 2018 season, June 2-3. After a couple of tough races, Smith claimed his first win since the 2016 season when he defeated Nitro Fish Suzuki’s LE Tonglet, 6.816 to 6.862 at Route 66 Raceway. In the final, both riders struggled to maintain control in the face of a stiff headwind, but Smith prevailed to break a winless streak that extends to the end of the 2016 season.

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results
Matt Smith (far lane) and LE Tonglet met in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle final in Chicago. Photo: Matt Polito

“This has been a long time coming,” said Smith. “We’re not exactly where we want to be but we’re getting closer. Obviously, I got behind the eight ball when that other [San Marino] deal fell apart. But at the same time, my bike is very good and I know I’ve got good engines. It was just a matter of getting the bike put back together and making some test runs so we’d know what we had. We tested in Michigan earlier this week and we learned a lot. I knew coming in here that we’d be quick.

“I had to ride the bike in the final,” Smith said. “It went left and kept going and going. I almost gave up on it, I glanced over and didn’t see LE over there. I said, ‘screw it.’ Richard [Freeman, Elite Performance owner] is buying me a new body so if we tear it up, we’ll just tear it up. I’ve hit the wall before in Englishtown. The only time I’ve ever had an accident and the footpeg went through my foot and I was out for the rest of the year. But I’m just out here trying to win a race so I was willing to do whatever to make it happen.”

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

Smith, now a 19-time NHRA national event winner, began eliminations from the number-four qualifying spot. Smith rode to a 6.871 on the Route 66 Raceway quarter-mile. He finished behind Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, who were first and third, and Lucas Oil EBR’s Hector Arana Jr., who was the second-quickest qualifier.

Weather conditions improved dramatically for Sunday’s final eliminations and Smith and his team made the right calls. The results? Some of the quickest runs of his career. A 6.784 in the opening round was enough to take care of Steve Johnson. And a consistent 6.788 in the quarterfinal round helped secure a win against Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki’s Jimmy Underdahl, who red-lighted. Smith completed his run to the final with a huge 6.796 to 6.818 win over low qualifier Hines and his Harley Street Rod.

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results
Winner Matt Smith

“We always run good here in Chicago,” Smith said. “In Q2 we were number-three qualifier going into Saturday. I knew we had a good bike, and I just missed the tune-up on Saturday both runs. I learned something, and we applied it and had the quickest bike in every round today. That’s a testament to my crew. These guys have stuck with me in the last three or four years. We pulled this bike out when the other guy bailed on me the first of the year. We didn’t really work on it all winter. It’s a fast hot rod. It’s hateful. When we get that new EBR body we should pick up maybe one or two mph. I’m going to feel bad for the rest of these guys.”

2018 Route 66 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

Tonglet, who won his first NHRA event in Chicago during his breakthrough season in 2010, began eliminations from the number-six spot after riding to a 6.891.He also showed a dramatic improvement on Sunday when he barreled past Scotty Pollacheck, Eddie Krawiec and Arana Jr., who had earlier lit up the scoreboards with another 200-mph run, his third of the season. Tonglet’s most impressive win came against Krawiec. He narrowly defeated the points leader at the finish line, 6.807 to 6.818. Ironically, Tonglet, much like Smith, has already switched teams this year. He began the season racing on his family-owned Suzuki with his father, Gary, and brother, GT, but returned to Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Suzuki team for the second event of the season in Charlotte. Last year, Tonglet and Savoie combined for eight wins, half of the Pro Stock Motorcycle events on the NHRA schedule.

“We didn’t get it done; it’s as simple as that,” Tonglet said. “I mean, we didn’t have a bad weekend, but I made a bad run in the final, got caught up in the wind and had to roll the throttle. I think we’d have beat Matt otherwise, but it wasn’t worth hitting the wall. We’ll be fine, though. We’ve got a great bike, too.”

Kevin McKenna

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