Matt Smith wrapped up his third career NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship with a record-breaking performance on the final day of the 2018 season in Pomona. But the Pro Stock Motorcycle standout fully believes that championship run was set in motion thanks to his impressive performance at Sonoma Raceway.
Smith won the Mickey Thompson Tire Pro Bike Battle as part of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, which takes places at Sonoma Raceway, July 26-28. The victory over Eddie Krawiec in the final of the bike battle on Smith’s Denson/Stockseth/MSR EBR netted him $25,000 and provided a huge boost of momentum as he prepared for his title chase. Returning to the facility in the heart of Northern California’s wine country fourth in points, Smith is after a similar spark in 2019.
The scenic facility in the heart of Northern California’s wine country provides a breathtaking backdrop for the second of three races in the famed Western Swing, as the NHRA will again deliver three days of ground-shaking excitement.
The class takes center stage in Sonoma with the Mickey Thompson Tire Pro Bike Battle, a special race-within-a-race on Saturday featuring eight top riders. The field will be set after this weekend’s race in Denver, but Smith has already secured his spot. He’ll try to win the all-star race for a second time, relying on engine that went a record 201.76 mph in Gainesville this year, keyed his bike battle victory a season ago and also led to his record-breaking performance to clinch the title.
“Sonoma has always been a big bike race and I think we’re in a great spot,” Smith said. “Angie ran really well at Norwalk, and we finally got Scotty’s bike to perform like it should. We qualified all the bikes in the top seven and everyone won in the first round, and I think we’re right where we need to be. With the way the Countdown is, you’ve got to be good at the end of the year.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:15 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, July 26 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 27 at 1:20 and 4:20 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28.