INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 4) — It has been a decade since two-time world champion Matt Smith last won drag racing’s most prestigious and longest-running national event, and the way the Victory Motorcycles factory rider sees things, 10 years is long enough.
“Man, I want to win this thing more than you know,” Smith said. “It’s Indy, and aside from winning the championship, this is as big as it gets in our sport. Back then, 10 years ago, it was the biggest day of my career. Even now, if I were to win again tomorrow, even with our two world titles in hand, it would still rank way, way up there.”
Smith’s 6.876-second pass at 193.52 mph down Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis placed his Victory Gunner comfortably in the field, although he said the powerful motorcycle hasn’t shown its full potential as of yet.
“There’s plenty left in this Gunner,” Smith said. “This bike is fast and when we tested it was flying. It seems like something little has popped up every round here, and we’re still running well despite our issues. If we can get everything cleaned up, I’ll take on anyone in the field and feel confident going into the race.”
Smith’s first opponent will be No. 6 qualifier LE Tonglet, who rode to a best elapsed time of 6.860 at 196.44 mph in qualifying his Nitro Fish machine. Both Smith and Tonglet are sponsored in part by Nitro Fish apparel.
“One at a time,” Smith said. “We’re going to focus all our attention on the next race and not worry about anything else until it gets here. Right now, our focus is on Tonglet. I’m sure he wants to win as much as we do, so we’ll need to be ready to go.”
Even though Smith’s teammate and wife Angie missed the cut and will not race on Monday, she found a silver lining in her situation.
“I’ll be the No. 1 Victory Motorcycles salesperson in the country tomorrow,” she said. “If I can’t race — which kills me, by the way — the least I can do is work the pits and get as many people as possible to come over here and check out these beautiful Victory Motorcycles. They really are the coolest bikes, and when people see them up close or go test ride them at their local dealer, they are hooked.
“Of course I’m upset about not qualifying. This is our biggest race of the year, and I sure wanted to give our sponsors two chances to win. The best I can do now is help Matthew out and hope he can go some rounds and put himself in a position to win. Winning Indy is huge, so maybe we can get it done as a team.”
Eliminations begin at noon, Monday. FOX Sports 1 will air the early part of Monday’s eliminations live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Live TV coverage will then shift to the main FOX Network with action from 1 to 4 p.m. (All times listed in ET).
Credit: Geiger Media Global