Matt Smith defeated Eddie Krawiec in the final round of the Auto Club NHRA Finals to become the 2018 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion. Smith also set a speed record in the two-wheel category by going 201.65 mph on his Elite Performance EBR.
“This is absolutely amazing, I honestly can’t believe it,” said Smith. “I have so many people to thank right now. Honestly this is still surreal for me.”
Smith started the season at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals driving someone else’s motorcycle — a partnership that ended in not-so-spectacular fashion. From there, he managed to use his partnership with Mark Stockseth to hook up with Elite Performance and eventually get his hands on an EBR body.
He used that superior piece of aerodynamics to his advantage, eventually surging towards the top of the leaderboard. Smith entered the Countdown to the Championship in the No. 6 position, leaving him with work to do in the playoffs. Smith got right after it — reaching the final round at the Dodge NHRA Nationals and then winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals a week later.
Smith went on to win three times during the Countdown to go along with his one regular season victory. He now has 22 career victories in 243 starts. His meeting with Krawiec in the final round was his first in regular NHRA competition in 2018. The two met up during the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle in Sonoma, and Smith got the better of that matchup, too.
Smith had to beat three former champions: Hector Arana Sr., LE Tonglet and then Krawiec, to collect his third championship. He defeated his wife, Angie Smith, in the first round of competition, after qualifying No. 1 for the fifth time this season.