INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Nov. 23, 2022 — (Motor Sports NewsWire) — With three championships in four years going into the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Matt Smith had already put together an impressive recent run in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
But the top veteran had even more history on his mind this year aboard his Denso Auto Parts Buell, extending his dynastic streak to three consecutive championships and four in five years. This, however, struck an even bigger chord with Smith, as his 2022 world title in the two-wheeled category gave him six overall, tying Smith with Dave Schultz and Andrew Hines for the most in Pro Stock Motorcycle history. .
It was a feat he wouldn’t have believed possible at the start of his career, but an incredible journey in recent years has made it possible. Reaching that milestone has been Smith’s main focus all season, one that he has accomplished impressively with another fantastic year.
“I’ve always admired Dave. He was the best out here and just to have my name associated with him and Andrew, and tying them for the most championships in NHRA (Pro Stock Motorcycle) history, is amazing,” Smith said. I’m turning 50, but I’m not done yet. I’ll continue this and hopefully go further and get a seventh championship.”
It would be hard to doubt Smith at this stage, as he’s been nearly unstoppable since 2018. He put on a show again this year, winning on both a Suzuki and Buell, and clearing the field during the countdown to the playoffs of the championship.
He opened the year with an early season win at Virginia, winning on a Suzuki before switching back to Buell on the Western Swing. This led to a dominant performance in Denver, propelling Smith from sixth to third in points, and he surged to an Indy lead to take a win at the prestigious US Nationals.
This made him – once again – the man to beat in the postseason and after a first blunder in Reading, losing in the second round, Smith got to work. He qualified first and won in St. Louis and added another No. 1 qualifier and runner-up appearance in Las Vegas, taking control as his rivals crashed early in the stretch. A sixth title came true with his first round win at Pomona as Smith continued to reign supreme in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“This Denso bike has been great all year round. To be the only Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to win every (NHRA) championship with Camping World so far is pretty amazing,” Smith said. “People don’t realize how much effort you have to put into this class. We work more in the off-season than throughout the year.”
That work came together at the right time, as Smith used the early part of the season testing different things on his Suzuki. He returned to Buell just as everything was heating up in the class, as the points lead changed hands in six consecutive events in the category. This included Steve Johnson, who has won twice this year, Angelle Sampey, Smith and Joey Gladstone all leading during that stretch, with Smith leading the last four races.
Gladstone enjoyed a banner year, winning her first career race at Sonoma and finishing 2022 with three wins and a second-place finish, while Karen Stoffer opened the season with a season-high run of 6.665 seconds en route to her victory in Gainesville. Hector Arana Jr. had back-to-back wins in Dallas and Vegas as playoff spoilers, while Angie Smith, who finished a career-best third in points, Sampey and Jerry Savoie also added wins in another different year in the category.
But like most years of late, the season belonged to M. Smith, who will now spend this off-season working at Suzuki as he looks to stand alone in Pro Stock Motorcycle history with a seventh world championship.
“Our goal for next year is to develop the Suzuki program, improve it and try to come here on a Suzuki next year and win a championship,” Smith said. “We will develop this Suzuki program and be quick with it next year.”
The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season kicks off March 9-12 with the 54th running of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway. For more information about NHRA, visit www.NHRA.com.
About Camping World Holdings, Inc.
Camping World Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lincolnshire, IL, (together with its subsidiaries) is America’s largest retailer of RVs and related products and services. Our vision is to build a long-term legacy business that makes RVing fun and easy, and our Camping World and Good Sam brands have been serving RV consumers since 1966. We strive to create long-term value for our customers, employees and shareholders by combining a unique and comprehensive assortment of RV products and services with a nationwide network of RV dealerships, service centers and customer service centers coupled with the industry’s largest online presence and a highly trained and knowledgeable team of associates serving our customers, the RV lifestyle and the communities in which we operate. We also believe that our Good Sam organization and family of programs and services uniquely enable us to connect with our customers as stewards of the RV enthusiast community and the RV lifestyle. With RV sales and service locations in 42 states, Camping World has grown to become the premier destination for all things RV. For more information, visit www.CampingWorld.com
Headquartered in San Dimas, California, the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 22 national events with NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA offers racing opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and NHRA Street Legal. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street program for teenagers and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. With more than 120 member trails, NHRA allows runners to compete in a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services (YES) program reaches over 30,000 students each year to ignite their interest in automotive and racing-related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv, allows fans to view all of NHRA’s national events and exclusive features on the sport. Additionally, NHRA owns and operates three race facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; and Auto Club Raceway in Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association
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