Race 2 of 6 in the Countdown to the Championship Playoffs
In the 500th career race in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Gaige Herrera earned his first career victory in the Countdown to the Championship, going 6.726 at 201.34 on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki to win against a red-lighting Hector Arana Jr. Herrera moved back into the points lead with his dominant weekend en route to his seventh victory of the season, also getting back on track after an early exit in the playoff opener.
There were no upsets on Sunday at zMAX Dragway, as Herrera, who also qualified No. 1, rolled to round wins against Jerry Savoie, defending world champion Matt Smith and Chase Van Sant, setting a track E.T. record in the opening round with a 6.706. Arana Jr. left early in the finals, but Herrera would have been tough to take down as he enjoyed another spectacular weekend. His lead against Smith stands at 52 points.
“It was a good Sunday. I’m glad my bike was consistent again today. It came off the trailer running strong and I’m glad we came home with the win,” Herrera said. “I’m happy with that. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks.
“Andrew (Hines, crew chief) and those guys, they don’t quit. I’m with one of the best teams with Vance & Hines. It’s pretty cool, racing Matt second round. The ladder couldn’t have worked out any better for me today. I regained the points lead and definitely have a lot of momentum going into St. Louis.”
Arana Jr. stayed third in points, getting past Steve Johnson, Angie Smith and Eddie Krawiec to reach the championship round for the third time in 2023 and 33rd time in his career.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action Sept. 29-Oct.1 with the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis.
ELIMINATIONS – ROUND 1
W – Angie Smith / 0.435 / 6.846 / 198.26
L – Chris Bostick / -0.233 / 13.282 / 27.67
Angie smith qualified #3 and the #3 PSM qualifier is 12 – 1 at this event in Rd. 1. Chris Bostick is 2 – 3 against Smith. Bostick is too quick off of the line and goes red giving the win to Smith. Smith makes a clean, straight pass to take the win.
W – Kelly Clontz / 0.036 / 6.883 / 195.68
L – Jianna Evaristo / 0.031 / 6.899 / 196.67
This the 4th time in her last 5 races Evaristo has qualified in the top half of the field. Kelly Clontz is making her 61st start. This is the first time Evaristo and Clontz have faced each other in eliminations. Evaristo gets the holeshot but Clontz reels her in quickly. Clontz goes around before they reach the sixty foot mark and pulls away for the win.
W – Chip Ellis / 0.056 / 6.791 / 199.46
L – John Hall / -0.128 6.931 / 194.24
Chip Ellis is 89 – 61 (59%) in Rd. 1. John Hall is 0 – 8 in Rd. 1 this year. Ellis is 1 – 0 against Hall in prior events. Hall leaves a little too soon and goes red giving the win to Ellis. Ellis goes down the groove with his quickest pass of the weekend to take the win.
W – Hector Arana Jr / 0.094 / 6.785 / 201.61
L – Steve Johnson / 0.047 / 6.949 / 193.24
Hector Arana Jr. is 7 – 0 against Steve Johnson in Rd.1. Steve Johnson is 1 -1 against Arana Jr. this year. Arana Jr is 14 – 3 against Johnson in prior events. Johnson gets out of the gate first but Arana starts making up ground quickly. Arana gets around Johnson about 300 feet out and pulls away for the win. Arana will have lane choice over Angie Smith in the next round.
W – Matt Smith / 0.016 / 6.858 / 195
L – Marc Ingwersen / 0.014 / 6.881 / 193.57
Marc Ingwersen is 5 – 5 in Rd. 1 this year. Matt Smith wins 71% of his Rd. 1 races overall. Smith is 6 – 1 against Ingwersen in prior events. A coin flip off of the line, Ingwersen gets the early lead. He stays in front to half track, then Smith gets around him and pulls away for the win.
W – Chase Van Sant / 0.017 / 6.863 / 196.47
L – Joey Gladstone / 0.031 / 6.898 / 195.28
This is the 8th time this year Chase Van Sant has qualified in the top half of the field. This is just the 5th race this year for Joey Gladstone. He is 3 – 1 in Rd. 1. This is the first time Gladstone and Van Sant have faced each other in eliminations. Van Sant gets the holeshot and extends his lead all the way through the run. Gladstone makes his quickest pass of the weekend in the loss. Ellis will have lane choice over Van Sant in the next round.
W – Eddie Krawiec / 0.051 / 6.791 / 200.08
L – Ron Tornow — — —
Eddie Krawiec is 218 – 37 (85%) in Rd. 1 in his career. Ron Tornow is making his 25th start. Tornow does his burnout, has problems and gets off of the bike. Krawiec goes down the groove with a good pass to take the win. Krawiec will have lane choice over Clontz in the next round.
W – Gaige Herrera / 0.03 / 6.706 / 201.94
L – Jerry Savoie / -0.004 / 6.957 / 190.59
Gaige Herrera is 10 – 0 in Rd. 1 this year. The #16 PSM qualifier has never won a round at this event. Jerry Savoie is 104 – 51 (67%) in Rd. 1 in his career. Savoie is 1 – 0 against Herrera in prior events. Savoie misses the tree on the wrong side and goes red giving the win to Herrera. Herrera goes down the groove with the quickest pass of the event to take the win.
ELIMINATIONS – ROUND 2
W – Chase Van Sant / 0.032 / 6.861 / 197.45
L – Chip Ellis / -0.004 / 6.916 / 177.81
Ellis is 1 – 0 against Van Sant in prior events. Ellis is a little too quick off of the line and goes red giving the win to Van Sant.
W – Eddie Krawiec / 0.035 / 6.828 / 199.85
L – Kelly Clontz / 0.098 / 6.95 / 194.86
Krawiec is 11 – 0 against Clontz in prior events. Krawiec gets the advantage off of the line and extends his lead all the way through the run.
W – Hector Arana Jr / 0.003 / 6.873 / 197.86
L – Angie Smith / 0.091 / 6.836 / 198.5
Arana Jr is 18 – 6 against Smith in prior events. Arana is almost perfect off of the line but Smith starts making up ground quickly. Smith continues to gain ground but runs out of room.
W – Gaige Herrera / 0.045 / 6.747 / 200.71
L – Matt Smith / 0.048 / 7.88 / 122.91
Herrera is 2 – 1 against Smith in prior events. A coin flip off of the line, Herrera starts pulling away quickly. Smith gets about 1000 feet out and sits up on the bike. Herrera will have lane choice over Van Sant in the next round.
ELIMINATIONS – SEMI-FINAL
W – Hector Arana Jr / 0.017 / 6.815 / 198.06
L – Eddie Krawiec / 0.024 / 6.855 / 199.17
Arana gets the advantage off of the line and extends his lead all the way through the run. Arana is going to his third final round this year and the 33rd of his career.
W – Gaige Herrera / 0.029 / 6.755 / 201.10
L – Chase Van Sant / -0.043 / 6.86 / 196.76
Herrera is 2 – 0 against Van Sant in prior events. Van Sant takes a shot at the tree and goes red giving the win to Herrera. Herrera is going to his eighth final round this year. Herrera will have lane choice over Arana in the final round.
ELIMINATIONS – FINAL
W – Gaige Herrera / 0.038 / 6.726 / 201.34
RU – Hector Arana Jr / -0.076 / 9.777 / 88.05
Herrera is 1 – 0 against Arana Jr in prior events and this is the first time they have faced each other in a final round. Arana leaves a little too soon and gives Herrera the win. This is Herrera’s seventh win of the year.
Pro Stock Motorcycle Points
Point standings (top 10) following the 15th annual betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, the 17th of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –
1. Gaige Herrera / 2,304
2. Matt Smith / 2,252
3. Hector Arana Jr / 2,250
4. Eddie Krawiec / 2,200
5. Angie Smith / 2,171
6. Chase Van Sant / ,144
7. Jianna Evaristo / 2,116
8. Steve Johnson / 2,107
9. Marc Ingwersen / 2,105
10. Kelly Clontz / 2,084
Qualifying – Saturday
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Gaige Herrera continued to cement his qualifying dominance, taking his 10th No. 1 spot of the year on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki on the strength of his 6.731 at 200.44 from Friday. On the weekend of Pro Stock Motorcycle’s 500th career event, Herrera hopes to pick up his seventh win this season and also his first career Countdown to the Championship victory. He’ll open eliminations against Jerry Savoie. and could move back into the points lead with a big day.
Eddie Krawiec jumped up to second on Saturday with a run of 6.766 at 200.00 and Angie Smith took third after going 6.805 at 197.48. Points leader Matt Smith qualified ninth.
Eliminations for the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals begin at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday at zMAX Dragway.
1. Gaige Herrera, 6.731, 200.41
2. Eddie Krawiec, 6.766, 200.00
3. Angie Smith, 6.805, 197.48
4. Chase Van Sant, 6.806, 198.06
5. Chip Ellis, 6.817, 199.05
6. Hector Arana Jr, 6.833, 201.04
7. Jianna Evaristo, 6.835, 196.19
8. Marc Ingwersen, 6.839, 194.52
9. Matt Smith, 6.840, 196.39
10. Kelly Clontz, 6.843, 195.17
11. Steve Johnson, 6.890, 192.17
12. John Hall, EBR, 6.922, 196.16
13. Joey Gladstone, 6.932, 194.91
14. Chris Bostick, 6.964, 192.33
15. Ron Tornow, 7.000, 191.95
16. Jerry Savoie, 7.004, 189.04
Did Not Qualify:
17. Marcus Hylton, 7.226, 189.55
18. Lance Bonham, 7.407, 176.74
Qualifying – Friday
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Gaige Herrera shrugged off his surprising second-round loss from last weekend in strong fashion on Friday, distancing himself from the rest of the field with a run of 6.731 at 200.44 on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. Herrera, who is now second and 17 points behind Matt Smith, is seeking his 10th No. 1 qualifier of the year and what he hopes is his seventh victory of the year and first career Countdown to the Championship victory. Herrera enjoyed a terrific start on Friday and will try to replicate that over the next two days in Charlotte.
“We’re happy with that run and we’re just trying to get redemption back from Reading,” Herrera said. “It put us down a little bit, but it’s another race and we’re just looking forward to two more rounds of qualifying tomorrow and then raceday on Sunday. This is one of my favorite tracks and I’m just happy to be back here.”
Chip Ellis, who advanced to the final round last week, is currently second with a 6.817 at 199.05 and Eddie Krawiec took third thanks to his 6.825 at 197.94. Smith is 17th after one session.
Qualifying continues at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
1. Gaige Herrera / Suzuki / 6.731 / 200.41
2. Chip Ellis / EBR / 6.817 / 199.05
3. Eddie Krawiec / Suzuki / 6.825 / 197.94
4. Jianna Evaristo / Suzuki / 6.835 / 196.19
5. Angie Smith / EBR / 6.864 / 197.39
6. Chase Van Sant / Suzuki / 6.866 / 192.36
7. Hector Arana Jr / EBR / 6.895 / 196.22
8. Kelly Clontz / Suzuki / 6.911 / 195.05
9. Marc Ingwersen / EBR / 6.913 / 192.11
10. John Hall / EBR / 6.942 / 195.14
11. Chris Bostick / EBR / 6.964 / 192.33
12. Ron Tornow / Victory / 7.000 / 191.95
13. Steve Johnson / Suzuki / 7.017 / 169.34
14. Jerry Savoie / Suzuki / 7.042 / 186.30
15. Joey Gladstone / Suzuki / 7.226 / 192.85
16. Lance Bonham / Buell / 7.407 / 176.74
17. Matt Smith / 8.354 / 150.48
18. Marcus Hylton / 14.151 / 55.39
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 22 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock Showdown and Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Series. Twice a year, NHRA hosts a ‘race-within-a-race,’ during the JEGS Allstars and Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle specialty competitions. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. With over 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing-related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
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