Matt Smith Really Wins the U.S. Nationals! Matt Smith's dej'vu experience aboard the Torco Race Fuels/Skull Gear Buell at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals had a happy ending this time, as Smith will get to keep his Wally for good this year. Smith...
Matt Smith Really Wins the U.S. Nationals!
Matt Smith's dej'vu experience aboard the Torco Race Fuels/Skull Gear Buell at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals had a happy ending this time, as Smith will get to keep his Wally for good this year. Smith was awarded the trophy last year only to have the win taken away when video footage showed Steve Johnson taking the stripe. The NHRA overruled its own timing and scoring and awarded the win a day late to Johnson.
This year Smith got the win seven seconds early when Angelle Sampey redlit in the final. That kind of good fortune--perhaps good karma from last year--followed Smith throughout the day. Matt had a dominant bike early in the weekend, qualifying number 1 with a new track record and earning the fourth membership in the elite Mickey Thompson 6 Second Club. He ran low ET of the round as eliminations opened and appeared to be headed to a final round shootout with Andrew Hines.
But Hines redlit in the semi, and the performance of Smith's bike started going the wrong way. Matt caught a break in the second round when quicker Shawn Gann redlit. G2 teammate Chip Ellis had no such luck and got out run by Sampey's teammate Antron Brown. Both G2 bikes seemed to suddenly lack power on the top end.
Smith took control of his own destiny and slapped a holeshot on Brown to win the semi. But Matt's ET was still heading in the wrong direction.
"We hurt our motor second round and thought we had it fixed," said Smith "There's no time to change it for the final." Inside the G2 trailer, Matt was repeatedly watching video of his last run, looking for ways to improve his own performance, checking the travel of the bike's wheelie bars, and pondering what it would take to make the bike perform.
"What would you do if you were making the call?" G2 and Star Racing's Jackie Bryce asked Smith.
"I'd take half a degree of timing out," Matt said without hesitation.
"Good," said Jackie. "That's what we're doing."
"We're also going up a tooth on the sprocket and putting a little fuel in where it wants it and taking it out where it doesn't," added George Bryce, G2's multi-time NHRA champion builder/tuner. "You did a great job on the tree and riding the bike last time. Do it exactly the same way, you don't have to do any better. You might notice the shift light coming on just a hair quicker this time."
Outside the trailer, Smith's crew chief Rick Maney was speedily installing clutch plates for the final. "We're not really sure why they're slowing down," said Maney. "I mean, everybody's slowing down, but we're slowing down more. We've had a lot of luck on our side today and I hope it stays that way."
It did, and Maney, Smith, the Bryce's and the entire G2 family wore huge smiles in a raucous winners circle celebration.
"It's the second year in a row we crossed the finishline second, but this time we get to keep it," Smith said, who made special thanks to Evan Knoll. "Everybody wants to win Indy, and we've finally done it. When I signed up with G2, George Bryce has won so many Indy races with Angelle and John Myers and everybody, I knew I had a good chance. We got our stuff together two weeks ago in Memphis and qualified number 1. Then we came here and got number 1 qualifier. I knew we had the bike to beat. The one thing I did this weekend is not pay any attention to who was in the next lane. I went up there to race myself. That's what I did today and everything worked great. We came up there for the final with a hurt bullet and they didn't know that. That's a case of creating your own luck."
"I'm proud because I've been coming to Indy for a long time," said George Bryce. "I've won here with Angelle, Reggie Showers, the late, great John Myers, and-contrary to what people say-last year with Matt. The amount of work, money, time and effort that goes into winning this race is unbelievable, and we've won 50 % of the ones we've been to. That's a pretty good record of preparedness and mental toughness for our team. It was lots of work this year because we worked all weekend to make Chip's bike to go fast. Matthew unloaded fast, but trying to stay on top through all the days is a monumental task."
"Thanks to Torco Race Fuels, Skull Gear, DRAG Specialties, S&S Cycle, Mac Tools, and the entire G2 team for their effort," said G2's George Smith. "I'm very happy for Matt because it removed any bad memories he had from 2005. And I'm especially happy for his riding and his lights, which have been stellar. Chip's dejected because we lost some ground in the championship, but we'll have the Drag Specialties/S&S Cycle Buell ready for Reading."
"I'd like for somebody to tell me they had a better weekend than we did," added George Bryce, who celebrated his 52nd birthday by winning the 52nd U.S. Nationals. "I can always tell how old I am by the number on the ticket. This year we got into the 6 second club with Matthew, we set the track record, we qualified on the pole, we got both our bikes in the top 4 qualifiers, we got runner-up in the Ringers Pro Bike Battle, and we won the prestigious 52nd U.S. Nationals!"
-credit: G2 Motorsports