AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
March 09-12, 2023
Gaige Herrera Wins Pro Stock Motorcycle
Gaige Herrera scored his first career win in Pro Stock Motorcycle and was joined in the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals winner’s circle by Mike Salinas, Matt Hagan, and Troy Coughlin Jr. as the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag racing season kicked off at Gainesville Raceway.
Herrera finished off a star-making weekend with one last dominant performance in the final round, going 6.706 at 202.15 on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki to beat Angie Smith and earn his first career NHRA victory. It was also Herrera’s first career race with Vance & Hines, and the young standout put together a marvelous performance, qualifying No. 1 and setting the track speed record in the process. He knocked off Ron Tornow, teammate Eddie Krawiec and Jianna Evaristo to reach the final round, making the quickest pass of each session before finishing the job in the finals.
“This is a dream,” Herrera said. “Vance & Hines is such an awesome team to work with. They help so much and it shows. I’m at a loss for words. I’m just out here having fun and I can’t believe I’m holding this Wally. To make this Vance & Hines team happy, it’s just an unbelievable feeling. To win out here and to do it in front of all these fans, it’s just amazing.”
When Eddie Krawiec joined the Vance & Hines team, it took more than a year for him to win his first national event title. In fact, Krawiec won the 2009 championship without the benefit of a national event victory. Brothers Matt and Andrew Hines, who later combined to win nine championships, also didn’t win in their debut with the powerhouse Vance & Hines team. There will be no such waiting period for the newest member of the team as Herrera cleaned house in Gainesville to put the team’s Mission Foods Suzuki in the winner’s circle at the 2023 season-opener.
Herrera competed in six events last season but didn’t enjoy much success. That changed in Gainesville where he ran the table by qualifying No. 1, setting low elapsed time and top speed of the event, and winning the final round against Angie Smith. Herrera left first in the final, and quickly pulled away to seal the win with a 6.706 to easily cover Smith’s 6.845. The win was not only the first for Herrera, but also the first for the new third-generation Suzuki Hayabusa body.
Herrera, a fourth generation racer, earned max points in Gainesville with his 6.685 qualifying effort, and his four race-day wins against Ron Tornow, Eddie Krawiec, Jianna Evaristo, and Smith.
Smith advanced to her second straight final round in Gainesville, going 6.845 at 181.84 in the championship round. She knocked off John Hall, Joey Gladstone and rookie Chase Van Sant earlier in the day.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 1
W. Eddie Krawiec / 0.041 / 6.763 / 200.20
L. Hector Arana Jr / 0.029 / 6.858 / 198.17
Hector Arana Jr. is 2 – 0 against Krawiec at this event.In his career Eddie Krawiec has won 85% of his first round races. These two have met 36 times but this is just the 2nd time they have raced in Rd. 1. Arana gets the holeshot, stays in front pst the sixty foot mark, then Krawiec goes around him and pulls away for the win with his quickest pass of the event. Eddie Krawiec’s incremental times: 60ft-1.078 sec., 330ft-2.840, 660ft-4.338/163.45 mph, 1,000ft-5.645.
W. Angie Smith / 0.091 / 6.793 / 202.58
L. John Hall / -0.002 / 6.903 / 195.82
Angie Smith wins 67% of her Rd. 1 races when she has lane choice. John Hall is 0 – 3 against Angie Smith in Rd. 1. Smith is 3 – 1 against Hall in prior events. Hall just misses the tree and goes red giving the win to Smith. Smith makes a clean, straight pass and takes the win.
W. Jianna Evaristo / 0.043 / 6.828 / 196.50
L. Marc Ingwersen / 0.068 / 6.920 / 196.33
This is the first time that Jianna Evaristo has started from the top half of the field.
Marc Ingwersen was 6 – 8 in Rd. 1 last year. This is the first time Evaristo and Ingwersen have faced each other in eliminations. Evaristo gets the advantage off of the line and starts pulling away. Ingwersen’s bike sounded like it may have bogged a little at the hit.
W. Ryan Oehler / 0.059 / 6.870 / 194.91
L. Chip Ellis / 0.047 / No Time
Chip Ellis is 149 – 139 in his career. Ryan Oehler was 3 – 12 in Rd. 1 last year. This is the first time Ellis and Oehler have faced each other in eliminations. Ellis had problems at the hit and the bike shut down, not sure why. Oehler makes a decent pass and takes the win.
W. Gaige Herrera / 0.045 / 6.704 / 201.52
L. Ron Tornow / 0.025 / 7.161 / 191.51
Gaige Herrera is the 40th PSM rider to qualify #1. Ron Tornow is #16 and the #16 PSM qualifier is 3 – 7 here in the last 10 years. Tornow gets the holeshot but his bike bogs a little at the hit. Herrera goes down the groove with another good pass to take the win. Gaige Herrera’s incremental times: 60ft-1.036 sec., 330ft-2.792, 660ft-4.289/163.69 mph, 1,000ft-5.592
W. Joey Gladstone / 0.031 / 6.813 / 196.85
L. Steve Johnson / -0.009 / 6.776 / 197.36
Steve Johnson qualified #2 and in the last 30 years the #2 PSM qualifier is 28 – 2 in Rd. 1 here. This (#15) is the lowest starting spot for Joey Gladstone in his last 31 races. Johnson is 3 – 1 against Gladstone in prior events. Johnson misses the tree on the wrong side and goes red giving the win to Gladstone. Gladstone makes his quickest pass of the round in the win.
W. Chase Van Sant / 0.023 / 6.809 / 198.61
L. Richard Gadson / broke
Chase Van Sant is the 212th rider to qualify for an NHRA PSM event. Richard Gadson is making his 2nd start. Gadson is a no-show.
W. Matt Smith / 0.088 / 6.780/ 200.29
L. Kelly Clontz / 0.071 / 6.844 / 196.30
Matt Smith is 202 – 84 (71%) in Rd. 1. Kelly Clontz ran her career best (6.824) in qualifying. Smith is 6 – 0 against Clontz in prior events. Clontz gets out of the gate first but Smith reels her in and goes around just before half track. He pulls away and takes the stripe for the win. Matt Smith’s incremental times: 60ft-1.075 sec., 330ft-2.848, 660ft-4.354/162.55 mph, 1,000ft-5.662.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 2
W. Angie Smith / 0.096 / 15.908 / 47.59
L. Joey Gladstone/ -0.011 / 6.790 / 197.54
Gladstone is 7 – 4 against Smith in prior events. Smith completes her burnout and the engine dies. They are able to re-start the engine and she stages the bike. Smith’s engine bogs at the hit, goes into second gear and the bike just quits. She gets a break, Gladstone leaves a little too early and goes red giving her a trip to the next round.
W. Chase Van Sant / – 0.011 / 6.795 / 198.58
L. Ryan Oehler / 0.065 / 6.915 / 195.70
Van Sant gets the holeshot and pulls away for the win.
W. Jianna Evaristo / 0.017 / 6.846 / 196.22
L. Matt Smith / 0.045 / 6.864 / 199.49
Smith is 3 – 1 against Evaristo in prior events. Evaristo gets the holeshot and starts pulling away. smith starts to make up ground at half track but can’t reel her in. Jianna Evaristo’s incremental margins: 60ft(0.058), 330 ft(0.068), 660ft(0.071), 1,000ft(0.059). MOV: 0.0469 seconds (approximately 14 feet).
W. Gaige Herrera / 0.023 / 6.708 / 201.73
L. Eddie Krawiec – 0.055 / 6.814 / 199.94
This is the first time Krawiec and Herrera have faced each other in eliminations. Herrera gets out of the gate first and pulls away for the win.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 3
W. Angie Smith / 0.065 / 6.882 / 199.52
L. Chase Van Sant / 0.022 / 6.962 / 189.71
This is the first time Smith and Van Sant have faced each other in eliminations. Smith had trouble keeping the bike running again. She completes her burnout and the engine dies. She is able to get it re-started and stage the bike. Van Sant gets the holeshot but Smith is able to reel him in at the 1000 foot mark and take the stripe for the win. Angie Smith’s incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.051), 330 ft(-0.040), 660ft(-0.035), 1,000ft(-0.008). MOV: 0.0376 seconds (approximately 10 feet).
W. Gaige Herrera / 0.041 / 6.742 / 200.89
L. Jianna Evaristo / 0.042 / 6.883 / 193.21
A coin flipoff of the line, Herrera gets out in front early and pulls away for the win.
W. Gaige Herrera / 0.039 / 6.706 / 202.15
L. Angie Smith / 0.075 / 6.845 / 181.84
This is Herrera’s first final round. Smith is 3-2 in final rounds. Herrera gets out of the gate first and extends his lead all the way through the run. Smith made a good pass but was falling behind all the way through the run. Gaige Herrera’s incremental margins: 60ft(0.089), 330 ft(0.114), 660ft(0.117), 1,000ft(0.119). MOV: 0.1755 seconds (approximately 47 feet). Herrera gets his first career win in his first final round.
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1. Gaige Herrera 128
2. Angie Smith 94
3. Chase Van Sant 82
4. Jianna Evaristo 74
5. Matt Smith 57
6. Eddie Krawiec 52
Ryan Oehler 52
8. Joey Gladstone 51
9. Steve Johnson 42
10. Chip Ellis 34
11. Hector Arana Jr 33
12. John Hall 32
12. Marc Ingwersen 32
14. Kelly Clontz 31
14. Richard Gadson 31
14. Ron Tornow 31
17. Lance Bonham 10
17. Chris Bostick 10
17. Malcolm Phillips Jr. 10
Making his debut for Vance and Hines, rising Pro Stock Motorcycle star Gaige Herrera enjoyed a tremendous day on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki, delivering a 6.685 at 203.49, breaking the track speed record. Herrera made his PSM debut last year and joined the Vance and Hines team in the off-season. He’s made a strong impression already and will go for his first win on Sunday, opening eliminations against Ron Tornow.
“I honestly don’t have words for this,” Herrera said. “Just being here with the best team in Pro Stock Motorcycle is a dream and then to run 6.68 on back-to-back runs and then go 203. It’s been an awesome journey so far. It’s still not real to me. When I got that phone call from (Vance & Hines crew chief) Andrew Hines in November it took a while to sink in. Then I got my new leathers and realized I’d be riding the best bike in the class.”
Steve Johnson’s 6.746 at 198.90 kept him second and rookie Chase Van Sant took third in his first PSM race with a 6.747 at 200.80.
1. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.685, 203.49
2. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.746, 198.90
3. Chase Van Sant, Suzuki, 6.747, 200.80
4. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.751, 201.76
5. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 6.789, 198.61
6. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.790, 200.02
7. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.792. 196.90
8. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.797, 198.20
9. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.803, 200.98
10. John Hall, Buell, 6.819, 197.97
11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.823, 198.79
12. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.824, 198.61
13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.824, 196.36
14. Richard Gadson, Suzuki, 6.830, 197.31
15. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.846, 195.56
16. Ron Tornow, Victory, 6.922, 196.47
Did Not Qualify:
17. Malcolm Phillips Jr., 6.954, 193.02
18. Chris Bostick, 7.066, 191.10
19. Lance Bonham, 7.100, 187.65
Eliminations for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at Gainesville Raceway.
Johnson delivered a 6.746 at 198.90 on his Steve Johnson Racing Suzuki to take the provisional No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle. It was a welcome sign for Johnson, who started strong last year before struggling down the stretch. The veteran still has championship aspirations in a class filled with talent and remained focused on improvement.
“Our sport is so diverse and exciting,” Johnson said. “I would love to come out here and win a championship. I’ve seen the mistakes I’ve made, and the teams out here work so hard, so it’s not easy. We’ve got a lot of great new riders and it’s hard to ride these motorcycles perfectly. I rode pretty well today and, for me, it’s all about fundamentals and when you can concentrate on that, the motorcycle is going to have a really cool response.”
Rookie Chase Van Sant enjoyed a strong debut on Friday, going 6.747 at 200.80. Gaige Herrera, who joined the Vance & Hines team in the off-season, is a spot behind with his 6.749 at 200.59.
1. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.746, 198.90
2. Chase VanSant, Suzuki, 6.747, 200.80
3. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.749, 200.59
4. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.776, 201.58
5. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 6.789, 198.61
6. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.792, 196.90
7. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.803, 200.98
8. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.823, 198.79
9. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.824, 196.36
10. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.826, 199.37
11. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.828, 198.41
12. Richard Gadson, Suzuki, 6.830, 197.31
13. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.846, 195.56
14. John Hall, Buell, 6.867, 197.86
15. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.917, 195.39
16. Ron Tornow, Victory, 6.922, 196.47
15. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.846, 195.56
17. Chris Bostick, 7.066, 191.10
18. Malcolm Phillips Jr., 7.098, 192.66
19. Lance Bonham, 7.401, 185.89
Qualifying continues at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
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