From Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor | NHRA
SONOMA, Calif. (July 28, 2023) – Rivalries were both renewed and created on Friday at the Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals as the top eight riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle finalized the pairings for Saturday’s NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout in Sonoma.
Gaige Herrera, the low qualifier and runaway leader in the championship standings, had the first Callout and he picked fellow young gun Chase Van Sant. Herrera, who knows a thing or two about callouts from his grudge racing days, admitted that he’d thought long and hard about his decision and allowed the results from Friday’s qualifying to influence his decision. Herrera has won five races this season and has already locked up his spot in the Countdown to the Championship. This is his first chance to compete in a callout-style NHRA bonus event and he’s determined to make the most of it.
“This is important, and we want to make the most of it,” said Herrera. “I thought about this for a while and it wasn’t easy, but I decided to call out Chase Van Sant. I know him, and I think we’re going to have a great race.”
No. 2 seed Hector Arana Jr., had his choice of the five opponents and none of them were overly appealing. After a bit of deliberation, he decided to callout veteran Steve Johnson. Arana felt that Johnson's bike was leaking fluid and it caused him to spin the tire on Q2, so he didn’t mince words when he came to making his decision.
“Everyone is tough, and there are no easy draws but I made my decision as soon as I pulled to the line [for Q2]. There was [expletive] coming out of his bike and I [blew the tire off[ so Steve Johnson, let’s race buddy.”
Arana won the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, and was also the low qualifier in Denver aboard his GETTRX Buell.
When Eddie Krawiec made the decision to callout Marc Ingwersen, he not only picked his rival, but it also set the final pair, which happened to be the husband-wife team of Matt and Angie Smith. Obviously, the Smith’s would have preferred to race anyone other than each other, but as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, they didn’t have that option. Krawiec was well aware that his selection of Johnson meant a Smith vs. Smith battle and Krawiec wasn’t about to let that opportunity go by the wayside.
“This whole thing has changed in the last ten minutes, Krawiec said. “It’s completely different now than how we thought it would go down a week ago. In light of the way this deal came out; this is a Denso race so I think we should see the two Denso bikes race in the first round so Marc Ingwersen, come on out.”
With no other choice, the Smith’s were accepting of their fate, and they both take a bit of solace that at least one of the Denso bikes will be racing in the semifinals on Saturday.
“I get to call out my wife, so I might get to sleep on the couch tomorrow,” Matt said. “At least we know a Denso bike will win the first round and hopefully win this whole thing. Really hoped Gaige would call me out. I’d like to race him early because if you give people more time on the track, they get better and better. I don’t like beating my wife, but it’s good fun. We love the fans in Sonoma and we’re gonna put on a good show.”
“I just have to make a good run, and cut a good light,” Angie said. “I’m gonna put the ball in [Matt’s] court. He’s got to deliver the tune-up and if he doesn’t give me the right tune-up, it’s all on him.”
The first round of the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout will take place on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway during the event's second qualifying session.
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Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals Friday photo gallery:
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