NHRA: Angie Smith leaning on new clutch for more success in Atlanta

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NHRA Mello Yellow drag racing series

39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals
Atlanta Dragway
May 3-5, 2019

Angie Smith leaning on new clutch for more success in Atlanta

Angie Smith had a very strange race day at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. She reached the final round, or so she thought, a round after beating husband Matt Smith on a holeshot. Then things got weird.

A Christmas Tree failure (the drag strip kind, not … the other kind) led to a rerun of Smith’s semifinal quad. That did not work out in Smith’s favor, but that doesn’t discount how well she has ridden over the course of the season. Smith led Pro Stock Motorcycle in reaction time in 2018 and has been strong again in 2019, despite a red light in Charlotte.

That’s not the problem for Matt Smith Racing this season. The 60-foot marker is. The 2019 average for the three MSR bikes (the two Smiths and Scotty Pollacheck) is 1.084 – that’s .014 second worse than it was in 2018. Angie attributes part of that slowdown to the 15 extra pounds the EBRs are carrying following the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

“There’s no doubt that 15 pounds is affecting our 60-foot times,” she said. “We just haven’t been getting off the line anywhere near as quickly and it’s affecting our times at the end of the track. It’s also affecting us any time we have to make adjustments on the bike, when we’re getting out of the groove or anything like that.”

All three bikes stayed over to test at zMAX Dragway and Smith says a new clutch setup paid dividends. They will run the new clutch on Angie’s and Pollacheck’s bikes in the first qualifying session before deciding how to proceed.

“This clutch launches harder than our previous clutch, which was more of a slipping style clutch like the Pro Stock cars do,” said Smith.

Finding an extra hundredth of a second – and it’s possible the team could find more because Matt averaged a 1.06 in 2018 – would mean a lot to the team as it looks to find the form that brought it a championship last year. The Harley-Davidson crew has two of the first three Wallys in 2019 and that’s without great 60-foot averages (1.079).

Matt Smith, in spite of not getting the 60-foot times he wants, has the second-best e.t. average in the class in 2019. That means the window is open if this new clutch setup works.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. 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