NHRA Carolina Nationals
October 12-14, 2018
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Matt Smith took over the points lead after his third victory of 2018 and 21st of his career after a run of 6.830 at 196.64 on his Elite Motorsports Denso Auto Parts EBR against Chip Ellis. The points lead changed hands for the fourth straight race as Smith, a two-time world champion, jumped back into the lead for the second time during the Countdown to the Championship. He knocked off Karen Stoffer, Scotty Pollacheck and Angelle Sampey to reach his third final round in the playoffs, giving Smith a 41-point advantage over LE Tonglet.
“It’s pretty big if you look at the points,” said Smith, who has two playoff wins. “I went up and raced scared in Dallas and didn’t do my job, so I figured I would come here and do my job. All in all, the bike worked great and I just had to do my job. I said it to begin with that if we can win three races in the Countdown I think we can win this championship. We just can’t have another first-round loss and we have to keep going rounds. We’re going to do everything we can to make this dream come true again.”
Ellis, who won the fall race at zMAX Dragway in 2016, reached his first final of 2018 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, beating Joey Gladstone, Angie Smith and Jerry Savoie before going red in the final round.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Oct. 25-28 with the fifth race in the Countdown to the Championship, the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Eliminations Round 1 – There is likely to be a new points leader in Pro Stock Motorcycle by the end of the day after incoming leader LE Tonglet lost his round one battle against Angelle Sampey. Tonglet was uncharacteristically late off the starting line and fell victim to Sampey’s 6.808. Reading winner Hector Arana Jr. also lost via a holeshot to Scotty Pollacheck. All three Harley-Davidson riders advanced including part-time rider Chip Ellis, who made the best run of the weekend with a 6.778 to beat Joey Gladstone.
Eliminations Round 2 – The Pro Stock Motorcycle class continued to provide a lot of drama and excitement with close racing and a couple of upsets. Eddie Krawiec lost his chance to retake the points lead when he lost by .001-second to Angelle Sampey, 6.834 to 6.837. Andrew Hines also went out to 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, who made his best run of the weekend with a 6.843. Chip Ellis and Matt Smith also advanced and Smith can take over the points lead with a semifinal win against Sampey.
Eliminations Round 3 – Matt Smith has retaken the points lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle after defeating Angelle Sampey in the semifinal round. Smith rode to a 6.864 to take the win any move past incoming leader LE Tonglet. Smith, set to appear in his 51st final, will take on Chip Ellis, who earned a spot in the final after Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Suzuki shut off at half-track. Ellis will have lane choice after a 6.854 run.
FINAL Eliminations –A red-light start by Chip Ellis allowed Matt Smith, near lane, to take his third Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the season and build his points lead to 41 with two races remaining. Smith won for the third time this year and 21st time in his career. The final numbers showed Smith with a 6.830 on his Elite Performance EBR to a quicker 6.891 for Ellis’ Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
|Eliminations Round 1|
|LANE||DRIVER||RT||60 FT||330 FT||660 FT||660 FT MPH||1000 FT||ET||MPH|
|WIN||Angie Smith WIN||0.02||1.081||2.863||4.381||160.59||5.732||6.902||191.1|
|1:11 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 61 degrees, relative humidity 70 percent, barometer 29.51 inches, adjusted altitude 1,211 feet, track temperature 78 degrees. Smith is 1 - 0 against Oehler in prior events. Oehler was sluggish off the line and his bike was out of the groove early. Smith was to the right of the groove on the top end.|
|WIN||Jerry Savoie WIN||0.015||1.054||2.851||4.378||159.57||5.728||6.883||194.02|
|Steve Johnson won this race the first year it was contested (2008) and he was runner-up in 2014. Savoie is 11 - 5 against Johnson in prior events. Very good lights by both riders and Savoie has the better bike today.|
|WIN||Chip Ellis WIN||0.053||1.057||2.831||4.331||163.67||5.646||6.778||197.19|
|This is the first time Ellis and Gladstone have faced each other in eliminations. Chip Ellis won here two years ago. Gladstone bogged on the launch. Ellis makes the quickest pass of the weekend for the win. Chip Ellis' incremental times: 60ft-1.057 sec., 330ft-2.831, 660ft-4.331/163.67 mph, 1,000ft-5.646. He'll have lane choice over Angie Smith in round two.|
|WIN||Matt Smith WIN||0.013||1.069||2.877||4.402||160.84||5.731||6.869||196.67|
|Smith is 15 - 11 against Stoffer in prior events. Smith was quicker at the line and had the much quicker bike to take the win.|
|WIN||Scotty Pollacheck WIN||0.062||1.062||2.857||4.384||160.25||5.724||6.878||194.18|
|Hector Arana Jr||0.089||1.083||2.884||4.398||162.39||5.721||6.855||197.65|
|Arana Jr is 8 - 1 against Pollacheck in prior events. Pollacheck has a slight advantage at the tree and it is enough to give him the holeshot win. Scotty Pollacheck's MOV: 0.0042 seconds (approximately 15 inches). Pollacheck will give lane choice to Matt Smith in round two.|
|WIN||Andrew Hines WIN||0.073||1.059||2.83||4.342||161.59||5.673||6.812||196.53|
|Andrew Hines has three wins and two runner-up finishes at this race. Hector Arana won this race in 2009. Hines is 22 - 7 against Arana in prior events. Arana left first but Hines caught and passed him by the 60-foot mark. He'll have lane choice over Savoie in round two.|
|WIN||Eddie Krawiec WIN||0.029||1.095||2.89||4.398||162.2||5.718||6.848||197.91|
|The top qualifier in the bike class has never lost in round 1 at this race. Eddie Krawiec won here in 2011, 2014 & 2017. This is the 2nd time in his career that he earned the #1 spot based on speed and in both cases Chip Ellis was the #2 qualifier (Denver 2008). Krawiec is 12 - 1 against Underdahl in prior events. Krawiec bogged a little on the hit but had more than enough power to take the win.|
|WIN||Angelle Sampey WIN||0.03||1.066||2.837||4.345||162.49||5.671||6.809||196.9|
|L.E. Tonglet took home the gold here in 2010. Tonglet is 3 - 0 against Sampey in prior events. Tonglet is very late getting off the line and Sampey makes her best pass of the weekend for the win. Angelle Sampey's incremental times: 60ft-1.066 sec., 330ft-2.837, 660ft-4.345/162.49 mph, 1,000ft-5.671. She'll have lane choice over Krawiec in round two.|
|Eliminations Round 2|
|LANE||DRIVER||RT||60 FT||330 FT||660 FT||660 FT MPH||1000 FT||ET||MPH|
|Smith is 7 - 4 against Pollacheck in prior events. Smith cuts a great light and he stays ahead all the way down the track. Matt Smith's MOV: 0.0481 seconds (approximately 14 feet).|
|Ellis is 7 - 0 against Smith in prior events. Smith cuts a great light but Ellis cases her down for the win. Chip Ellis' incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.048), 330 ft(-0.036), 660ft(-0.027), 1,000ft(-0.007). MOV: 0.0243 seconds (approximately 7 feet).|
|Hines is 12 - 7 against Savoie in prior events. Savoie has the advantage at the tree. Hines bogged a little after the hit. Savoie was able to hold on and take the win. Jerry Savoie's incremental margins: 60ft(0.038), 330 ft(0.037), 660ft(0.040), 1,000ft(0.036). MOV: 0.0296 seconds (approximately 8 feet). He'll give lane choice to Ellis in round three.|
|Sampey and Krawiec have each won 5 times against the other in prior events. This was a great drag race! Krawiec had a couples of ticks advantage at the tree but Sampey caught and passed him before the 60-foot mark. She held on for the win in a very close race. Angelle Sampey's incremental margins: 60ft(0.019), 330 ft(0.039), 660ft(0.030), 1,000ft(0.016). MOV: 0.0011 seconds (approximately 4 inches). She'll have lane choice over Matt Smith in round three.|
|Eliminations Round 3|
|LANE||DRIVER||RT||60 FT||330 FT||660 FT||660 FT MPH||1000 FT||ET||MPH|
|3:41 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 68 degrees, relative humidity 65 percent, barometer 29.46 inches, adjusted altitude 1,769 feet, track temperature 98 degrees. Smith is 13 - 7 against Sampey in prior events. Sampey's hot streak comes to an end. Smith left first and stayed ahead all the way down the track. Matt Smith's incremental margins: 60ft(0.026), 330 ft(0.004), 660ft(0.024), 1,000ft(0.046). MOV: 0.0607 seconds (approximately 17 feet).|
|Savoie is 4 - 1 against Ellis in prior events. Savoie's bike went silent shortly after the launch. Ellis will have lane choice over Matt Smith in the final round.|
|Eliminations Round 4|
|LANE||DRIVER||RT||60 FT||330 FT||660 FT||660 FT MPH||1000 FT||ET||MPH|
|4:39 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 70 degrees, relative humidity 64 percent, barometer 29.46 inches, adjusted altitude 1,906 feet, track temperature 97 degrees. Smith is 13 - 5 against Ellis in prior events and Smith is 1 - 0 against Ellis in prior final rounds. Ellis leaves way too early and gives the win to Matt Smith. This is Smith's 3rd win this season in 4 final rounds and his 21st win in 49 final rounds during his career.|
Angelle Sampey turned in another solid qualifying effort on her Liberty Racing Buell with a 6.853 best that was good for the No. 8 spot in what ultimately became the quickest field of the year. Her reward; a round one match-up against current points leader LE Tonglet, winner of two of the last four events including last week’s Dallas race.
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Sampey laughed as she looked at the ladder for Sunday’s final eliminations. “After the way we ran, you’d think I’d get a better draw than LE but it is what it is. Anymore, everyone is tough and if you want to win you’re going to have to beat all of them sooner or later. We just need to stay focused and do the best job we can and we can win.”
Sampey was both quick and consistent in Charlotte with runs of 6.909, 6.869, 6.890, and a 6.853 in the final session that was good enough to secure a top-half starting spot. She is just .05-second behind the pace set by leader Eddie Krawiec.
“We’ve qualified really well the last few races and we’re still on track to keep improving,” Sampey said. “Lane choice is going to be crucial tomorrow, as it is almost every raceday, and I feel really confident; having two days of great qualifying helps with that for sure.”
When Sampey stages against Tonglet, it will mark her 600th round of professional competition. She currently has a win loss record of 409-190 in her career, which began in 1996. This is her 236th NHRA Mello Yello Series race in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Krawiec collected his fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2018 and 43rd of his career with his 6.806 at 197.83 from Friday on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who trailed points leader LE Tonglet by 47 points heading into the weekend, will look for his fifth win of the season and faces Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations.
“I was fortunate enough to keep the No. 1 spot,” Krawiec said. “One of my teammates, Chip Ellis, almost knocked me off, but we were able to get it done. Rolling into tomorrow, I think it should be some good racing. It’s definitely going to be a game-changer. You have to be on this weekend and whoever comes out of here going the most rounds is probably going to be the most comfortable in this points battle. It’s do or die time, really.”
Teammate Ellis stayed second after improving to a 6.806 at 196.85 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson on Saturday, setting up a first-round matchup with Joey Gladstone, while points leader Tonglet qualified ninth with a 6.856 at 195.90 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki and will race Angelle Sampey to open eliminations.
Eliminations for the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters begin at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
Qualifying Round 3 – The bump spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle dropped by five-hundredths of a second during Saturday’s opening qualifying session after a number of the riders in the field improved their performances from Friday. With one session remaining, the 6.905 bump spot is the quickest of the year, thus far. Chip Ellis, riding a new Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod, set the pace with a 6.817 while Matt Smith picked up a pair of bonus points after making the second best run of the round with a 6.836 that he described as far from perfect. Andrew Hines also added a point to his total after a 6.843. Reigning champ Eddie Krawiec remained the leader with Friday’s 6.806 best. Krawiec slowed to a 6.872 in Q3.
Qualifying Round 4 – Eddie Krawiec held on to the top spot, but just barely after teammate Chip Ellis rode his new Harley-Davidson Street Rod to a 6.806 to lead the final session. Krawiec, who did not score a bonus point in the final session, will have his hands full on Sunday since the top four riders in the points; LE Tonglet, Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr., and Jerry Savoie, are all on the same side of the ladder. Savoie made his best run of the event in Q4 with a 6.819 to pick up a pair of bonus points while Matt Smith grabbed the final point with a 6.836.
|05||Hector Arana Jr||6.838||198.64|
In a sport where timing is everything, Matt Smith could not be happier to be returning to zMax Dragway, his home track, for the fourth race in the Countdown to the Championship. Smith took over the points lead after winning in St. Louis, but quickly surrendered it after an early loss in Dallas last week. Despite the loss, Smith is relieved to find himself just 48-points behind leader LE Tonglet and just one point in back of second-ranked Eddie Krawiec.
“We went to Dallas with the lead and then I let the bike bog so we’re coming here to redeem ourselves,” said Smith. “I want to try and qualify No. 1 and get enough bonus points to get the difference under two rounds after qualifying. We’ve still got a ways to go and we’re in this fight. That’s why it’s great to be racing here at my home track. We test a lot here with Greg [Anderson], Jason [Line], and Tanner [Gray]. I just hope we can get dialed-in. I went to the final this spring at the Four-Wide. I came up short in the final but I think we can do well. At the very least, I need to go to the semifinals.”
As part of his preparation for the Charlotte race, Smith changed engines and installed an all-new 160-cid V-twin in his EBR-bodied bike.
“There wasn’t anything wrong with the engine, but we think its was a big part of the reason why the bike bogged,” said Smith. “We’re using kind off an odd port design and it just night not be the best thing for what we’re trying to do. The bike ran really good when we first put that engine in but I think what we’ve got now will be better. I think that we can put ourselves in a better chance to win the championship. I think we need to at least go to the semifinals. We have all the chess pieces in right places. We just have to execute. It would be great to upset the big money teams and have the little guy win. It would be huge for us to win championship after having no sponsor.”
While Smith’s primary focus will be on winning enough rounds to remain in title contention, he’s willing to admit that the prospect of joining the Denso Spark Plugs 200-mph club is intriguing. The weather conditions at zMax Dragway figure to be favorable.
“The air is good and if the wind cooperates we might see 200,” said Smith. “We might even see side-by-side 200s because it’s pretty good out there right now. It all depends on which direction the wind is blowing. If we have a tail wind, we’re good to go.”
As a general rule, there are two types of racers in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship. There are those who count points and those who lie and say they don’t. After winning four Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship, Eddie Krawiec isn’t afraid to admit that he watches points religiously.
“Look at where we are right now with a bunch of riders still in the hunt, it’s exciting,” said Krawiec. “Little [qualifying] points are big points and you need to try and have low et every round and then hope that the competitors in front of you falter. It’s so close right now that even one or two bonus points is a big deal. I’ve lost a championship by two points so I know. You have to count all of them.”
Krawiec entered the points battle as the No. 1 seed, but now finds himself in second place, just 47-points behind leader LE Tonglet. Matt Smith is also lurking in third place, one point behind Krawiec while Hector Arana Jr., Jerry Savoie, and Andrew Hines are all still very much alive for the title. Obviously, Krawiec would love to join teammate Hines as a five-time championship, but he also sees the benefits of having a multi-bike battle all the way to the late rounds of the Auto Club finals in Pomona.
“I’m hoping to start my roll right now,” said Krawiec. “Having so many bikes so close makes you a better racer. If you choke at this point, its on you. This is where the better rider will shine. You can’t make any mistakes. Everyone on the team has to do their job. I want to win the last three races but I also hope it goes down to Pomona and to the final rounds in Pomona. Ultimately, we’re putting on a show for the fans. When you have a close battle, brings an extra dynamic to the class. No one wants to see someone lock it up two or three races early. That takes focus away from class. I want focus on class and that means some real drama at the last race.”
Krawiec raced to the current No. 1 position during his second qualifying attempt on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson with his run of 6.806 at 197.83. He has three No. 1 qualifying positions this season and 42 on his career.
“It was a good lap and a good run for the session,” said Krawiec. “Going into tomorrow, potentially cooler weather, earlier run, things like that, it could mean that run isn’t going to stand like that as No. 1 qualifier. You look at five or six motorcycles that could definitely take the pole from me at any given time.”
Teammate Chip Ellis is second after going 6.830 at 195.22 and points leader LE Tonglet sits sixth with a run of 6.867 at 196.33.
Qualifying Round 1 – After a tough weekend in Dallas where he was plagued with electrical issues, Andrew Hines has arrived in Charlotte with a renewed optimism and it was rewarded with the best run of the opening session. Hines rode to a 6.842 to lead the big 22-bike field. Hines collected three bonus points ahead of championship leader LE Tonglet, who is second with a 6.876 on his Nitro Fish Suzuki. The third spot went to Tonglet’s White Alligator Racing teammate, Jerry Savoie, who rode his Suzuki to a 6.873. The biggest surprise of the round came from Karen Stoffer, who rode to the fourth-best run of the round after a 6.893. Championship contender Matt Smith is also in the mix with a fifth-best 6.897.
Qualifying Round 2 – Eddie Krawiec stole the top spot from his Harley-Davidson teammate, Andrew Hines, during the second Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session. Krawiec powered to a 6.806 to earn three bonus points while the third Harley teammate, Chip Ellis, was second-quickest with a 6.830. Ellis missed the first session when his Vance & Hines Street Rod encountered a mechanical problem. Hector Arana Jr., who remains in the title fight despite a pair of early losses at the last two events, earned a bonus point thanks to a 6.849. Arana Jr. also set the top speed of the event so far with a 199.29 mph run on his Lucas Oil EBR.
|04||Hector Arana Jr||6.849||199.29|
After skipping Dallas, will return to the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in Charlotte for another race aboard a Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod, but he’s not riding the same bike that he rode in St. Louis, where he qualified No. 1 with a career-best 6.76. Ellis will be riding a new chassis that was built in-house over the last couple of weeks at the Vance & Hines shop in Brownsburg. The main difference between the two bikes is that the square tubing that was used to fortify the old bike has been replaced by smaller diameter round tubes. There are other, more subtle differences in design.
Andrew Hines explained that although the new bike is likely to be a few pounds lighter than the Street Rod it replaced, weight savings wasn’t the reason to make the change. Hines also addressed the wisdom of parking the bike that was quickest in St. Louis in favor of an untested design.
“When we did this deal with Chip we said it was for development purposes and we meant it,” said Hines. “We have a lot of ideas we want to try and it’s really difficult for Eddie and I do that during the Countdown. We’ve already learned a few things from Chip’s bike that will likely make it on to our bikes. So far, it’s been a success. What we’re trying to do is get our bikes to leave the starting line quicker and more consistently. That’s the area where we are really lacking.”
The latest rider to make his pro debut in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class is Maurice Allen, who is riding with the Stoffer/Underdahl team this weekend. Allen, who is riding the bike that was vacated when Joey Gladstone joined the Liberty Buell team, has enjoyed a successful career racing motorcycles in his native Australia including three series championships.
“I got an email from Eddie Krawiec at Vance & Hines about six weeks ago telling me that there might be an opportunity to come to the States and ride a bike with Greg Underdahl and Gary Stoffer,” said Allen. “We’d just finished our season and I won the Australian championships, so we decided to make the arrangements and give it a try. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Allen’s best run in Australia is a 7.16 and he figures to better that by quite a bit this weekend on a bike that has ventured deep into the six second zone. As part of his preparation for an NHRA debut, Allen began an intense diet and exercise program that has allowed him to shed 30-pounds since the end of June.
“I just started eating right and working out a lot and I’ve been fairly successful,” said Allen. “I knew I had to be in better shape to ride one of these bikes. I have been very dedicated to making it happen. I want to be able to make some good runs over here.”
For all his success in Australia, Allen admits that he’s perhaps best known for taking part in one of the most bizarre drag races ever. Racing against Ryan Learmonth in the final of the 400 Thunder Series in Perth, both riders encountered a mechanical problem right off the starting line and both riders pushed their bikes to the finish line. Allen won the epic battle by 11-seconds.
“I cooked the clutch on the burnout and then my bike stalled in gear so I had to push it with the clutch lever in,” Allen recalled. “They’ve since changed the rules but that’s a race that people will be talking about for a long time.”
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 for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com