Memphis: Matt Guidera preview

Guidera Loose and Confident After an up and down start to his 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle season, a merger with the Mohegan Sun team, and a resulting settling in with new team personnel-Matt Guidera is back in stride and focused on ...

Guidera Loose and Confident

After an up and down start to his 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle season, a merger with the Mohegan Sun team, and a resulting settling in with new team personnel-Matt Guidera is back in stride and focused on Wally winning weekends. Guidera is outside of the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, and thus immune to the points strategies and extra pressure of the playoff series. Not that the laid back Guidera family team ever seems to notice pressure anyway. Perhaps that lack of stress facilitated Guidera's first ever POWERade Series win at Maple Grove Raceway in August.

To get that Maple Grove win, Guidera had to beat former Mohegan Sun rider Chris Rivas. The pair waited out a mind-numbing three day rain delay for their semifinal match-up. "We made multiple trips to the store," Guidera said about killing time during the delay. "I probably gained a little weight 'cause we had so much time to eat. We were also light a couple of guys on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My dad Vic had to go back home to get some work done, but Rick Maney (crew chief) was taking up Vic's slack."

As the days wore on, the atmosphere at the soaked, rural Pennsylvania track was as dark as the skies. "We were resigned to this probably happening on Wednesday, and we didn't even go to the track on Monday. It wasn't really muddy where we were parked, but we were out in the middle of a field. And it wasn't like we were working for much of the time. The bike stayed put away mostly, and we only pulled it out for about an hour on Tuesday when it looked like we would run.

"The Weather Channel forecast said the race would happen on Wednesday. So Tuesday night I laid in bed about an hour going though my mind how I was gonna get out of the gate, make my shifts perfectly, and leave my opponent in the dust. I couldn't get it out of my head. I woke up in the morning with full confidence that this was the day I was going to win my first national event.

"We knew this was for all the marbles, and we felt we had the fastest bike out there 'cause we ran so well on Sunday. We had a 1.046 60 foot time in the second round on Sunday, so we knew we had a hot rod and were in total control of the set-up with the consistency of the tune-up and my riding.

A bid to the Countdown hung in the balance for Rivas "Chris had his own drama going with the Countdown, but I wasn't thinking about anything else but winning the race," said Guidera. "Waiting around for three more days made me focus on that even more. Jessey Fenton and Brian Bozsum of Mohegan Sun wanted this round in the worst way, and since Rick was a part of Chris's team, it would be a sweet victory for him too. Me, Rick and my brother Len were there all alone, had our heads down and focused on the task at hand. Everybody was real focused."

And that focus delivered a winning lap. Matt squeezed out a deadly .007 at the tree and took the stripe in 6.945 at 189.02 mph. From his respectable .027 on, Rivas was never in it. "I cut the light that I had to have against Chris," said Guidera. "That .007 was right on time for me, and the lap was as good as any I'd run all weekend. By half track I knew it was on a great run and it was back-halving like nobody's business. It was my fourth personal best run of the weekend.

"The team was just on a complete high at this point. For the third time in my career, I was going up against Angelle Sampey, this time in the final. But I wasn't paying much attention to who I had to race, I was just focused on my lane. I knew Angelle would put me in the right lane since I'd been running the left. When we rolled up there to the water box, I was in my zone. One more burnout, one more line-up, one more lap. I was gonna put the bike exactly where Rick wanted me to line-up and I would do what I do best.

"I was kinda surprised when I rolled up there that Angelle had already lit both bulbs. It didn't throw me off at all, but I when I put my first bulb on, I needed to get staged in seven seconds. But staging first or second, it really didn't bother me. I just took my time getting in. When the lights came down the tree and I popped the clutch, it was like the order of the weekend. Before I knew what was going on, I was in fourth gear and she was nowhere in sight. I knew by that point on the track, there was no way she was getting around me. Apparently she took out a cone, but by that point it started to sink in that I was about to win my first race." You can bet that some cold Corona's were consumed in the Mohegan Sun pit during the Maple Grove teardown.

"I'm so happy that we gave our sponsors and our team their first national event win. I've been racing for 15 years, and this is my first NHRA national event win."

Unloading as a Winner

The next race on the schedule was the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, a grueling four day race that is long by design, not by nature. Matt, Len, Vic, Rick, Brian and his son Tyler Bozsum, and Matt's girlfriend Sara all had plenty of time to reflect on the Maple Grove win. "I definitely have got a skip in my step and additional confidence about me," Matt said in the Indy pits. "I feel like our team is a better team and a team to be reckoned with. The team and me as a rider have gained more respect. Once you win a couple rounds and races, things change a little bit in the paddock.

"Then reality knocks you in the head. You go out to qualify first round and look at your results (an eighth place 7.079) and go, 'Well, alright.' Then you do worse second round and worse still third. You come into the event thinking you're the favorite, but you can't make the bike go as fast as you know it can go. We tried some new parts and went the wrong direction with the tune-up. We got back to good and were able to get a decent qualifying spot, then we had a glitch pop up and the bike had a miss in the last round. I'm glad it happened then and not first round of eliminations.

"But I'm happy just to be qualified here at Indy. This is the quickest field ever for this class at this event and we're happy to be a part of it. But even though we didn't qualify that well, we're not giving anything away. We've shown we can win from the tenth position, now we have to win from the eleventh. We don't have the fastest motorcycle, but we've shown we have a consistent motorcycle."

Unfortunately for Matt and the team, their "win streak" run ended in round 1 at Indy against eventual race winner Craig Treble in the closest race of the weekend in all classes. "Damn, that was a good race!" said Matt. "We were game on and were ready to go some rounds, but just got clipped at the finishline by.0037 of a second. I was disappointed that I couldn't have ridden a little better and given us the victory, but it just didn't happen. We were ready and our team pretty much prepared the way we wanted to, we just came up short.

"I was happy for Craig to finally get a round win on me! It's always so tough running Craig, but I had three straight victories against him this year. He's in the top two or three riders in the class. He's got great experience, good reaction times, a fast motorcycle and great skills. It was a crucial round win, and he went on to win the race and I'm very happy for him.

"Really, I was very happy to qualify for such a big race. There were 29 riders, so it was great just to get qualified. We 're still working with some new parts and looking for the right combination. I'm thinking that we're gonna be real competitive at the next two races. I imagine that we'll qualify in the top half of the field and be very dangerous on Sunday. Confidence is very high on our team right now. We're gonna collect some round wins and practice for next year."

Guidera's next race is the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals in Memphis. "We beat Antron Brown first round at Memphis last year, and I'm pretty comfortable there," said Matt. "It's gonna be a little warm and mucky, and we're comfortable in those conditions. We're excited about racing down there and looking forward to some good southern hospitality, some nice blues, and some good ribs." No doubt washed down with some cold Corona.

-credit: mgm

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Craig Treble , Chris Rivas , Matt Guidera , Angelle Sampey