Al-Anabi Racing Buell
Norwalk, pre-race: There’s no question NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship format has created more interest and intrigue in the 11 Pro Stock Motorcycle races that lead into the six-race Countdown to the Championship.
Matt Smith has been no lower than third place after he rebounded from a first-round loss in the season-opener – he won the Four-Wide Nationals the next time out – and, as regular-season races have dwindled to four, he’s eyeing a second-place finish. He’s currently four points behind Michael Phillips, who vaulted over Smith and into the runner-up spot with a recent victory at Englishtown, N.J.
As the two-wheel series rolls into Norwalk, Ohio for the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals, Friday through Sunday, Hector Arana leads the pack with 615 points. Phillips is next with 488 and Smith’s at 484. But Arana’s advantage shrinks to a mere 30 points over second place (2110 to 2080) when the Countdown finale begins with the 56th Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 3-6, at Indianapolis. Each top 10 driver’s total drops 10 points from the previous one. Should Smith remain third, he’ll open with 2070.
As one would guess, Smith wants to finish as high as possible and have the point difference a little as possible. He has confidence in the performance of his Al-Anabi Racing Buell that has taken him to two semifinal rounds in the last three races. At the same time, the engine responded to a series of changes.
“We feel pretty good going into Norwalk,” said Smith, who also builds and maintains his motors. “We had a new set-up in Englishtown and we’ve tested it since then. We’ve seen an exciting change in the bike’s performance. But we can’t get too excited until the good runs keep coming.”
Smith was runner-up at the first Norwalk NHRA event in 2007 and reached the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2009. “We hope to get to the finals this time and win that last round,” he said.