NHRA: Matt Smith Wins Pro Bike Battle
66th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
September 03-06, 2020
Matt Smith claims second Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle title in three years
Three-time world champion Matt Smith collects his second win in the $25,000 Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at Indy after a final round win over teammate Scotty Pollacheck.
It may not have been the prettiest win of his career, but for the second time in the last three years, Matt Smith claimed a victory in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, held Saturday at Indy. In the final, Smith, rode his Denso EBR past teammate Scotty Pollacheck to earn the $25,000 top prize. Smith also won the Pro Bike Battle in 2018, when the event was held in Sonoma, Calif.
The final round officially ended on the starting line when Pollacheck red-lighted by a thousandth of a second, but the real drama happened near the finish line when the rear tire on Smith’s Denso EBR locked up as he crossed the finish line. Trailing a huge plume of tire smoke, Smith managed to get the bike stopped safely before collecting the special Pro Bike Battle trophy from Mickey Thompson.
“I think it killed the motor; I was in fifth gear and pulled the clutch in and it dead-locked the motor and skidded the tire,” said Smith. “I’m not sure exactly what went wrong but somehow we got the win. Thank you Mickey Thompson for putting this race on and thank you to Denso and Mark Stockseth and everyone who helps me. This race is a big deal for us [Pro Stock Motorcycle racers] and it means a lot.”
The Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle is a special invitational event that is open only to the top eight Pro Stock Motorcycle riders based on the previous year’s qualifying results. Smith was the top seed in the eight-bike field and opened eliminations with a 6.850 to 6.843 holeshot win over Angelle Sampey’s Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Smith made his best run of the weekend in the semifinals where he used a 6.792 to get past Jerry Savoie’s Suzuki.
Although Pollacheck lost in the final, he certainly had a memorable day on Saturday at Indy. Riding his Strutmasters EBR, Pollacheck ran a 6.789 to qualify No. 1 for the second time in his career and he also locked up the fourth spot in the Denso 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle Club following a track record 200.26-mph run. A runner-up at the 2014 Pro Bike Battle, Pollacheck earned his spot in the final with wins against Steve Johnson and Eddie Krawiec.
Conditions for NHRA’s two-wheel racers improved dramatically from Friday to Saturday and as a result, nearly every one of the eight riders in the Pro Bike Battle field was able to make a marked improvement. Pollacheck was quickest with his historic 6.789, 200.26 mph run, which was just enough to get past Steve Johnson’s 6.821. Eddie Krawiec also found the 6.7’s with a 6.790 to beat Hector Arana Jr. Krawiec had been to the final round of the last five Pro Bike Battle events including a win in 2015.
ABOUT NHRA – Headquartered in Glendora, CA, 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