It was a dominant start for Joey Gladstone to open the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, powering to a win on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at Maple Grove Raceway at the 37th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals.
Joey Gladstone jumped back into the points lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle, capping off a memorable day at the track where he grew up with a win in the final round against Angie Smith, who went red. Gladstone put together a strong run of 6.835 at 196.93 to cap off his day and pick up his third win this season, with all of them coming in the last four races for the category. After Matt Smith jumped into the points lead with his Indy win, Gladstone grabbed it back to open the Countdown to the Championship, knocking off Hector Arana Jr., Matt Smith in a pivotal second-round matchup and then Marc Ingwersen to reach the final round. His points lead now stands at 29 over M. Smith and Gladstone was sure to soak in the victory in what’s been a breakout season.
“This is the playoffs, so that win is big. Matt [Smith] has been a strong force, so to be able to get a good edge is awesome,” Gladstone said. “We’ll need it because he hauls butt. Everyone in this class is so tough, everybody is a contender, and any day you can beat one Smith is a good day – but two Smiths? That’s a big deal. I’m proud of my team and proud of my tuner. Today is my daughter, Olivia’s, birthday. It was a really special day, and how memorable is it to do this on her birthday.”
Smith reached her second final round this season thanks to victories against Ron Tornow, Eddie Krawiec and defending event winner Steve Johnson.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action on Sept. 23-25 with the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
Pro Stock Motorcycle Points
1. Joey Gladstone, 2,193; 2. Matt Smith, 2,164; 3. Steve Johnson, 2,151; 4. Angie Smith, 2,144; 5. Angelle Sampey, 2,115; 6. Marc Ingwersen, 2,104; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 2,103; 8. Jerry Savoie, 2,089; 9. Karen Stoffer, 2,077; 10. Ryan Oehler, 2,056.
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