For more than a decade, Scotty Pollacheck has been regarded as one of the most talented racers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but victory had eluded him until the Denso Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, September 4-6.
A runner-up in his first six final rounds, Pollacheck finally broke through for his first win at NHRA’s oldest and most prestigious event. Pollacheck raced his Matt Smith Racing-prepared Strutmasters.com EBR against Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Andrew Hines in the final round and beat the six-time champion with a 6.790 elapsed time. Pollacheck also ran 200.53 mph in the final, his second 200-mph run of the weekend.
“When we came in here, we joked about running the table and we nearly did it,” Pollacheck said. “We qualified number one, ran over 200-mph, and we won the race. That’s a pretty good weekend. Honestly, my bike was flawless all weekend. It has been good all year but with all the races we’ve missed due to Covid-19, we haven’t had many opportunities to show it. The round before the final, we made a good run, but I didn’t’ do a very good job of shifting so I felt that we could run even better in the final. [Crew chief and team owner] Matt Smith said we could probably run over 200 again and he was right. It’s been a long time coming but I’m glad the wait is finally over.”
The only disappointment for Pollacheck came on Saturday when he was a runner-up in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, a special $25,000 to win invitational event open only to the top eight riders in the class. Pollacheck also had the best bike in that field but red-lighted in the final and lost to his team owner, Smith.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even that upset about losing the final because I knew we had such a good bike and we had another opportunity to win on Sunday,” Pollacheck said. “Then, running over 200 was a bonus because we didn’t expect that.”
In qualifying, Pollacheck made the best run of his career when he rode to a 6.789, and he never strayed far from that number during Sunday’s final eliminations. On his way to the final, Pollacheck rode past Michael Phillips, Harley-Davidson’s Angelle Sampey, and two-time Indy winner Steve Johnson, who suffered a heartbreaking loss when his Suzuki developed an oil leak on the starting line.
Hines, was in line to win his 57th NHRA title and third at Indy, but he slowed in the final. Hines had a tough road to the final round with races against past Indy winner John Hall, Smith, and his own Harley teammate, Eddie Krawiec. Hines has now been in 97 NHRA finals and has 56 wins, the most of anyone in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
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