INDIANAPOLIS, IN – November 23, 2022 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – With three championships in four years entering the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Matt Smith had already put together an impressive recent run in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
But the veteran standout had even more history on his mind this year riding his Denso Auto Parts Buell, extending his dynasty-like streak to three straight championships and four in five years. This one, though, struck an even bigger chord with Smith, as his 2022 world title in the two-wheeled category gave him six overall, tying Smith with Dave Schultz and Andrew Hines for the most in Pro Stock Motorcycle history.
It was a mark he wouldn’t have thought possible at the beginning of his career, but an incredible run in recent years has made it possible. Reaching that mark was Smith’s major goal all season long, one he accomplished in standout fashion with another terrific year.
“I always looked up to Dave. He was the best out here and just to have my name associated with him and Andrew, and to tie them for the most championships in NHRA (Pro Stock Motorcycle) history, it’s amazing,” Smith said. “Hopefully I’m not done. I turn 50, but I’m not done yet. I’m going to continue this and hopefully go above and beyond and get a seventh championship.”
It would be hard to doubt Smith at this stage, as he’s been nearly unstoppable since 2018. He put on a show again this year, winning on both a Suzuki and a Buell, and distancing himself from the field during the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
He opened the year with an early-season victory in Virginia, winning on a Suzuki before opting back to the Buell on the Western Swing. That led to a dominating performance in Denver, pushing Smith from sixth to third in points, and he jumped into the lead at Indy by taking a victory at the prestigious U.S. Nationals.
That made him – once again – the man to beat in the postseason and after an early slip-up in Reading, losing in the second round, Smith went to work. He qualified first and won in St. Louis and added another No. 1 qualifier and runner-up appearance in Las Vegas, taking control while his rivals fell early down the stretch. The sixth title became reality with his first-round win in Pomona as Smith continued to reign supreme in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“This Denso bike has been awesome all year. To be the only Pro Stock Motorcycle rider that’s won every (NHRA) championship with Camping World so far, it’s pretty amazing,” Smith said. “People don’t realize how much effort you have to put into this class. We work harder in the off-season than we do all year long.”
That work came to fruition at the perfect time, as Smith used the early portion of the season testing different things on his Suzuki. He went back to the Buell just as everything was heating up in the class, as the points lead changed hands at six straight events in the category. That included Steve Johnson, who won twice this year, Angelle Sampey, Smith, and Joey Gladstone all leading during that stretch, with Smith leading over the final four races.
Gladstone enjoyed a breakout year, winning his first career race in Sonoma and finishing 2022 with three victories and a second-place finish, while Karen Stoffer opened the season with a record-breaking run of 6.665-seconds en route to her Gainesville victory. Hector Arana Jr. won two straight in Dallas and Vegas as a playoff spoiler, while Angie Smith, who finished a career-best third in points, Sampey and Jerry Savoie also added victories in another diverse year in the category.
But like it has most years as of late, the season belonged to M. Smith, who will now spend this off-season working on the Suzuki as he looks to stand alone in Pro Stock Motorcycle history with a seventh world championship.
“Our goal for next year is to develop the Suzuki program, get it better and try to come out here on a Suzuki next year and win a championship,” Smith said. “We’re going to develop this Suzuki program and we’re going to be fast with it next year.”
The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season begins March 9-12 with the 54th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway. For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
About Camping World Holdings, Inc.
Camping World Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lincolnshire, IL, (together with its subsidiaries) is America’s largest retailer of RVs and related products and services. Our vision is to build a long-term legacy business that makes RVing fun and easy, and our Camping World and Good Sam brands have been serving RV consumers since 1966. We strive to build long-term value for our customers, employees, and shareholders by combining a unique and comprehensive assortment of RV products and services with a national network of RV dealerships, service centers and customer support centers along with the industry’s most extensive online presence and a highly trained and knowledgeable team of associates serving our customers, the RV lifestyle, and the communities in which we operate. We also believe that our Good Sam organization and family of programs and services uniquely enable us to connect with our customers as stewards of the RV enthusiast community and the RV lifestyle. With RV sales and service locations in 42 states, Camping World has grown to become the prime destinations for everything RV. For more information, visit www.CampingWorld.com
Headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 22 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and NHRA Street Legal. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. With over 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates three racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association