POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2022) – What a Pro Stock Motorcycle season for Mr. & Mrs. Smith!
While Matt Smith garnered most of the headlines this season by winning his sixth NHRA Pro Stock championship but it’s also hard not to notice the progress that has been made by his wife, Angie, who had one of the best seasons of her career aboard her Denso Buell. Mrs. Smith wrapped up the season by winning her third NHRA Wally, and did it in dramatic fashion with a holeshot victory over Joey Gladstone. Smith left first, .017 to .029, and won by a scant .002-second with a 6.749 to Gladstone’s 6.739.
The win also solidified a third-place finish for Smith, the best of her career.
“This is just a relief. I wanted so bad to win a race this year,” said Smith. “I had a good year but this is just icing on the cake. I owe it to this entire Denso team. They have my back through all the downs and the ups. This one is for my papa, I know he’s watching from above.”
“Coming in here I knew I needed to qualify well and then turn on some win lights on Sunday and we did just what,” said Smith. “We’ve been creeping up on it for a while I I had a really good bike today. I had to race Jerry [Savoie], who has been a thorn in my side this year and I finally got him. I knew I had to make a decent run. Then I got a single run when Steve Johnson broke and the bike shook the tire a bit so [Matt] made a tune-up call. The last thing my guys told me before the final was ‘You got this’ and I did my job. To win on a holeshot is epic.”
Smith opened the season with a runner-up finish in Gainesville, the same event where she ran a then career best 6.72. Smith entered the Countdown to the Championship as the No. 7 seed but improved her stock with another runner-up finish in Reading. She also earned a semifinal finish at the most recent event in Las Vegas.
In Pomona, Smith qualified fourth with a 6.734 and rode a string of 6.7s in her wins over Fred Camarena, Jerry Savoie, and Steve Johnson. Smith ended the season with a solid 24-14 record in elimination rounds.
Gladstone may have missed out on his chance to win the Camping World NHRA championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but he left Pomona feeling optimistic after a season that included the first two wins of his career. Gladstone’s biggest win Pomona came in the semifinals when he put the brakes on Matt Smith, who earlier in the day clinched his sixth world title. In an epic side-by side race, Gladstone and Smith both ran 6.757, but Gladstone held a slight advantage off the starting line.
With his opening round win over Michael Phillips, Matt Smith joined exclusive company as a six-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion. Smith came into the Auto Club NHRA Finals with a solid, but not insurmountable 104 point lead over Joey Gladstone and officially locked up the title when he rode his Denso Buell past Phillips in round one. Smith continued his recent string of quick runs with a 6.770, 200.92 to easily distance himself from veteran Phillips.
Smith now joins the late Dave Schultz and Andrew Hines as the only riders in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class to win six titles. Smith has won three-straight titles and four of the last five. His championship seasons have come in 2007, 2013, 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
“This Denso bike has been bad all year,” Smith said. “Angie and I had a shot to finish 1-2 in the points and we missed that but we made a lot of progress this season. I knew Dave [Schultz] a little bit and I always looked up to him because he was the best out here and the same goes for Drew [Hines]. To be associated with them is amazing. It’s cool to think I’ve got six championships and I might not be finished. I’m 50 now, but I’m not done yet. Next year, we’re going to continue developing our Suzuki program and I expect us to be fast. We’ve got some new parts and we’ll be fast.”
I had to race Michael Phillips in the first round and he was all over me,” Smith said. “It started in driver intros and he followed me around most of the morning just blabbing away,” Smith said. “It got to the point where it was annoying, but I didn’t let it bother me. I just ignored him and won the race."
Throughout his career, Smith has been known for his resourcefulness and savvy as he leaves no stone unturned in his quest for victories and quicker elapsed times. This season was no different as Smith alternated between Suzuki and Buell brands this season oftentimes at the same event. Most notably, Smith parked his Suzuki in favor of his Buell V-twin before the final round of the Houston event. Although he lost that final to rival Steve Johnson, it proved to be a key moment in his championship run.
Smith went on to win in Richmond, Denver, and Indianapolis to secure the top spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Smith has been at his best during the Countdown to the Championship with a win in St. Louis, a runner-up in Las Vegas, and a semifinal showing in St. Louis to build a solid lead in the standings.
Smith lost the Las Vegas final to Hector Arana Jr., but collected enough points to give himself a comfortable margin heading into the final event in Pomona. Unlike past season’s where he’s had to sweat the title until late in the day, Smith was able to lock this one up with relative ease.
It would also be hard to argue that Smith hasn’t had the best bike in the class for most of the season as he has been the low qualifier five times and has made more 200-mph runs than anyone else in the class. Smit is also the current speed record holder at more than 205 mph.
Unofficial Pro Stock Motorcycle Points Standings For The Countdown To The Championship
1 Matt Smith 2610
2 Joey Gladstone 2528
3 Angie Smith 2519
4 Jerry Savoie 2432
5 Steve Johnson 2407
6 Angelle Sampey 2353
7 Eddie Krawiec 2306
8 Marc Ingwersen 2284
9 Karen Stoffer 2253
10 Ryan Oehler 2229
See the recap by NHRA National Dragster staff:
See the Matt Smith Championship recap by Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor:
Check out Sunday's photo gallery:
Photo: NHRA / RPM
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