By Lee Elder
SONOMA, Calif. (July 28, 2018) – Matt Smith won the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, a $25,000 special race within a race, to highlight the last day of qualifying for the NHRA Toyota Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.
Smith defeated Eddie Krawiec in the final round of the Battle.
Eddie Krawiec led the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying, Greg Anderson topped Pro Stock, Clay Millican was best in Top Fuel and Courtney Force had the best elapsed time in Funny Car.
Before the final round of the Battle, Krawiec predicted he would give Smith a “whooping.” Ooops. Smith was quicker on the starting line and the reaction times were the difference. It was Smith’s first victory in the special event.
Smith’s reaction time was .027 of a second, compared to .068 for Krawiec. Smith’s elapsed time was 6.793 seconds and his speed was 196.93 mph, to Krawiec’s 6.764 seconds and 198.17. The margin of victory was .0012 of a second.
Smith does not have sponsorship for the full season. His wife, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angie Smith, said of the big purse, “It helps us. He’s had a very trying year, trying to find a sponsor.”
Krawiec got some consolation by taking the top qualifier spot in PSM with a pass of 6.757 seconds and 199.94 mph. Hector Arana Jr. was second and Smith was third.
“I’m happy to have a green hat (top qualifiers in the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series professional classes earn green ball caps), but, man, I really wanted to be holding that Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle check at the end of the day,” Krawiec said. He called losing the final round, “a kick in the teeth.”
Anderson earned his 102nd career top qualifier and the ninth of the season. That tied him with Bill Glidden for third on the all-time NHRA list. Anderson trails only Warren Johnson (with 138) and John Force (155) on the list. Anderson’s pole-winning time was 6.515 seconds, his speed 211.16 mph.
“I had no earthly idea, that’s pretty cool,” Anderson said of tying Glidden. “I think everybody that races Pro Stock respects the hell out of that guy, admires him, looks up to him, has learned a ton from him all of our careers. We wouldn’t be where we’re at today, we wouldn’t have this great class, if it wasn’t for him.”
Jason Line qualified second in Pro Stock and Deric Kramer was third.
“Couldn’t be more proud,” Anderson said. “We got 1-2-3-4 with our team cars.”
Millican’s claim to the top qualifier spot in Top Fuel earned him a bye run in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Only 15 Top Fuel cars entered the event. Leah Pritchett qualified second and Antron Brown was third. Millican was the top qualifier for the seventh time this season and 17th of his career.
“I’m not complaining, that’s 17 in my career?” he asked. The statistic confirmed, he said, “I have three wins. The ratio is way wrong. I want to improve that ratio, but I am not ever going to complain about being the number one qualifier.”
Millican’s time from Friday, 3.700 seconds, stood through two rounds of qualifying Friday.
Courtney Force topped the charts in Funny Car with a pass of 3.910 seconds. Jack Beckman was second and Bob Tasca III was third.
NOTES: Only 14 Top Fuel cars made qualifying runs Friday. There were 15 entered. … The passes produced for the Pro Bike Battle were counted as qualifying runs, except for the final round. … Alex Laughlin’s Pro Stock car was pushed back from the starting line, unable to make a run, during Q3, for the second time in three rounds. … Leah Pritchett wore former NHRA world champ Jeb Allen’s Hall of Fame ring during her Q3 run. … The four PSM riders who did not make the field for Sunday’s eliminations were Scott Bottorff, Freddie Camarena, Katie Sullivan and Kelly Clontz. … Jeff Diehl and Terry Haddock failed to make the show in Funny Car. … Steve Torrence recorded a 330.55 mph run in his Top Fuel car during Q4.