Indy ORP: Matt Smith preview

SUZUKI RIDER SMITH SET FOR RINGERS GLOVES PRO BIKE BATTLE AT U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2009) - Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki rider Matt Smith is ready to fight it out for top honors in the 19th annual Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle...

SUZUKI RIDER SMITH SET FOR RINGERS GLOVES PRO BIKE BATTLE AT U.S. NATIONALS

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2009) - Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki rider Matt Smith is ready to fight it out for top honors in the 19th annual Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle at this weekend's 55th annual U.S. Nationals at Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

Seeded fourth in the standings for this bonus event held on Saturday, Sept. 5, Smith will face Karen Stoffer in the opening round. At the same time, he'll be aiming to qualify high in the Pro Stock Motorcycle field for Monday's eliminations, as he goes for his second U.S. Nationals event victory.

Smith is the 2006 U.S. Nationals champion and two-time runner-up (2005 and 2007), but has not won the Ringers Gloves Battle in his three appearances from 2006-2008.

"I've been in the semifinals every year that I've been in it, but I just can't seem to get into the final," he said. “I've won a lot of races, I've won the U.S. Nationals, and, of course, I would like to win it again this weekend. But, I really want to win the Ringers Gloves Battle. It would be great to take home that trophy from this prestigious event. (Crew chief) Steve Tartaglia wants to win it too.

“The first step we have to take this weekend is to try to make a good pass Friday night in qualifying and try to win the Battle on Saturday. Then we can focus on racing on Monday.

"I've been to the U.S. Nationals finals three times," added Smith, who also was low qualifier twice, in 2006 and 2008. "We 'won' the race in 2005 and then it got taken away from us the next day (when a finish-line camera showed that Steve Johnson crossed the stripe inches ahead). That was pretty wild. I've had very good success in Indy and we're looking to continue that.

"We really want to do well for Don Schumacher," said Smith, who is still seeking a victory in his first season riding a Suzuki for DSR. "It's the DSR team's home race and we want to do well, along with all the other DSR teams. We're going to do the best we can."

Testing for the Pro Stock Motorcycles at Raceway Park last week went well for Smith and the Nitro Fish team, where he was listed as second quickest of the day. "We went a 7.01 (-second elapsed time) and we shut off early. That wasn't even a full pass. We probably would have gone a 6.99 on that run. So, we're happy with our testing. If we had been making full passes we would have been the quickest bike.

"We're looking forward to the U.S. Nationals and the Ringers Gloves Battle. We finally got all the little bugs worked out on the Suzuki and hopefully it's going to show."

The total race day purse for the 19th annual Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle is $61,000. The winner will earn a $25,000 bonus from Ringers Gloves. Any rider who can win the Battle and the U.S. Nationals will earn a $10,000 'Double-Up' bonus from the NHRA.

The Battle runner-up will earn $10,000. The two semifinalists will earn $6,000 each, while the four first-round finishers will earn $3,500 apiece.

Riders accumulated points for the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle at 17 NHRA national events between last year's U.S. Nationals through last weekend's NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa. A $1,000 bonus was awarded to the No. 1 qualifier at each of those races.

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Karen Stoffer , Steve Johnson , Don Schumacher , Steve Tartaglia , Matt Smith