Victory Racing’s Matt Smith Reaches Pro Stock Finals On the New Gunner

Two-time World Champion Matt Smith powers the new Gunner into the final round at the Lucas Oil Nationals with a holeshot launch, but is edged by two feet on the top end.

Victory Racing's Matt Smith demonstrated true American performance, reached the finals, and finished second in Pro Stock Motorcycle competition at the NHRA's Lucas Oil Nationals on July 12 at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago. Racing on his Pro Stock Victory Gunner, Smith qualified fifth-fastest and outran three opponents in Sunday's elimination rounds to reach the final, where he was edged by a front wheel after getting the jump at the start.

With Victory Racing fans cheering him on in the final, Matt got off the line with a great reaction time of 0.039 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 6.957 seconds at 190.24 mph. He was edged by Hector Arana, Jr., who started in 0.071 seconds and ran 6.918 seconds at 194.66. Arana caught Matt at the finish line to win by 0.0076 seconds – a margin of about 2 feet.

“It’s been a long work in progress but it feels like we’ve made a big leap with the Victory Racing bike this weekend,” Matt said. “All in all, it was a great weekend for Victory and everyone that supports us. We had a big and supportive crowd in the hospitality center, the Victory Club. We had people from three Victory dealerships out there cheering us on and they had a great weekend.”

Smith was the fifth-fastest qualifier for Sunday’s elimination rounds. His best run in qualifying was in the second round, when he ran a 6.893-second quarter-mile at 192.71 mph.

Once Sunday’s racing began, Matt made a steady march through the competition to reach the finals. In the first round on Sunday, Matt got off to a great start with a 0.021-second reaction time and made his run in 7.008 seconds at 187.94 mph to beat Karen Stoffer. Matt got off to an even quicker start in round two with a 0.005-second reaction time en route to a winning run of 6.989 seconds at 189.36 mph against Eddie Krawiec.

Smith had a free run in round three as Chip Ellis never made it to the line and forfeited. Matt got a great reaction time of 0.011 seconds and made his run in 6.977 seconds at 188.28 mph.

Matt’s second-place finish at Chicago was the best showing of the season for the NHRA Victory Racing team. He had reached the semi-finals at the season’s second race, in Charlotte, but lost in a close race. After the Chicago race, Matt was 11th in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle points, and he was hopeful the team’s performance would continue to improve.

“NHRA gave us a couple things a few races ago,” he said. “We’ve got a new windshield that seemed to help us out, and when we get the new [intake] scoops, we’re hoping that helps as well. The windshield is the same height [as before], but NHRA gave us 2” more in width, which keeps the wind off our hands and shoulders. That gained us about a mile an hour, but we’re still 3 mph off where we want to be.”

The new intake scoops should be in production in the week after the Chicago race, and he hopes they’re on the bikes at Denver, the next stop on the schedule. “The new scoops should look the same from the side, but from the front, they’re dramatically smaller, and we hope that’s going to help,” Matt said.