LOCAL N.C. RIDER MATT SMITH SHOOTS FOR CONCORD WIN KING, N.C. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Matt Smith, the rider of the Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki for Don Schumacher Racing who hails from King, N.C., is shooting to score his first victory of the 2009...
LOCAL N.C. RIDER MATT SMITH SHOOTS FOR CONCORD WIN
KING, N.C. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Matt Smith, the rider of the Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki for Don Schumacher Racing who hails from King, N.C., is shooting to score his first victory of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at his hometown race this weekend, the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.
The 2007 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion and 10-time national-event winner in 21 final rounds was the No. 1 qualifier at last year's inaugural event in Concord riding for his own team. In his first season riding for DSR, he is still looking for a victory after reaching the final round once and landing on the pole two times so far.
"This is my home race," said Smith, who enters the first round of the Countdown to 1 playoffs this weekend in fourth place. "I would love to turn our season around right now, starting with the first race of the Countdown and getting us a win in Concord to get us back up in the points.
"We showed at the U.S. Nationals two weeks ago by qualifying No. 1 that, if we can make the bike consistent, we would be right up front every time. We have a fast bike, we just have to make it consistent right now.
"Steve (Tartaglia, crew chief) and the Nitro Fish Suzuki guys have been working on that and trying to figure out some stuff, and hopefully we'll be fast again this weekend."
As for NHRA's introducing a new point bonus for the playoffs which awards an additional three, two and one points to the top three qualifiers in each round during a weekend, "I think it's a bad idea to throw that out starting the Countdown," he said. "If we had known a lot sooner it might have sunk in better, but to throw it on us two weeks before the Countdown starts is not a good deal.
"We'll see. Maybe it will play to our advantage, but I think you'll see some of the riders who have not run like they should have in the last few races will step it up to get those points now," he said with an obvious reference to the two dominant Harley-Davidsons leading the rankings.
"We certainly expect the Harleys to come out and run well. I believe they were kind of holding back because they had an overwhelming points lead. I think they'll qualify better now for the simple fact that they will gain additional points, which will help them in the championship chase."