A self-described slow starter in her Pro Stock Motorcycle career, Angie Smith has been determined to change that to open the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
She’s done just that through the first three events for the motorcycles, advancing to the final round at the first race of the season and currently sitting fifth in points on her Denso Auto Parts Buell heading into this weekend’s Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.
A victory would certainly keep that momentum rolling and Smith is beyond thrilled with the progress her team has made to open what has been a very competitive 2022 campaign in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“I couldn’t have asked for a much better start,” said Smith, who has two career wins in the class. “It’s been huge for me because I’ve never started off this well before. I’ve always told people I don’t really show up to race until (later in the season). We showed up in Gainesville and that was good for me. We fixed a problem on the bike in the off-season and that’s given me a lot of momentum and confidence. I know I’ve got a good motorcycle and a fast motorcycle, and I have all the confidence in the world in our team and program. For as many good bikes as there are in this class, I’m happy to be in the place we’re in right now.”
The stop in Virginia is the fourth during the 2022 Pro Stock Motorcycle season and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the last time the NHRA visited Virginia Motorsports Park, but no rider in the PSM category on this weekend’s entry list has ever won in Virginia. Smith will look to change that and pick up her first victory since winning in Las Vegas to close out the 2020 season.
But she’s certainly been close this year, losing to Karen Stoffer and her record-breaking weekend in the final round at Gainesville. She’s also qualified well at each race and advanced to the second round at the four-wide event in Charlotte. In the midst of three races in a four-week stretch for the class, Smith hopes that keeps her in a good rhythm heading into the weekend.
She also had nothing but praise the track surface in Richmond, which is regarded as one of the best on the NHRA circuit. That could lead to standout performances and Smith is ready to rise to the challenge, even as she takes on a top-tier field that includes points leader Steve Johnson, who has won back-to-back races, her husband and defending world champ, Matt Smith, Stoffer, Eddie Krawiec, Joey Gladstone, and Jerry Savoie.
“It’s very good to have several races in a short span because it gets you acclimated with the bike,” Smith said. “I really like going to Virginia. We’ve tested there a lot and that track is really awesome. I love the surface and they’ve done a phenomenal job there, so I’m really glad we’re going back there. A smooth surface means fast runs for a bike, so that’s very good for us. We’re just trying to find more horsepower, but we’re looking forward to the weekend and being back in Virginia. I think we’ll do well. The track is so good, we’ll have a good plan right out of the box and hopefully we can lay down a good number and go from there.”
Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence won both the 2018 and 2019 events in NHRA’s return to the track, using that momentum to win world titles in both years. He’s won the last four championships in the nitro class, but the Texan is after his first win in 2022 in the loaded class. Brittany Force and Mike Salinas both have two wins this year, with Force currently leading the points.
Funny Car legend John Force has four wins in Virginia, with the last coming in 2000 and heads to VMP on a roll thanks to his impressive four-wide win in Charlotte. He’ll look to add another win to his incredible resume, but will face off with points leader Matt Hagan, who has two wins in 2022, defending world champ Ron Capps, who won the race in 2019, and Robert Hight, who has two wins in 2022.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which features some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, Top Fuel Harley, and Mountain Motor Pro Stock, offering fans a wealth of thrilling racing action from a variety of classes all weekend. Plus, the can’t-miss “World’s Fastest Motorcycles Shootout” between Top Fuel Motorcycle standouts Larry “Spiderman” McBride and Dave Vantine will be a definite highlight. They will square off in a best-of-three matchup on Friday and Saturday, starting with a test hit on Friday.
On Saturday, Toyota-sponsored drivers will be signing autographs at 11 a.m. at the Toyota Midway Display.
Fans at Virginia Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan-favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the NHRA Virginia Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Richmond. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7:15 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 14 at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 15. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations action at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
New for the 2022 season is a unique VIP section which will be located in the grandstand section closest to the starting line for premium viewpoints of all the action. This new package also includes amenities like inside-the-gate platinum parking, tower rooftop access, a custom VIP card and lanyard to commemorate the day along with a NHRA Legends mini-helmet. VIP section tickets are sold individually by day or at a discounted weekend package price with price points starting at only $109.