DINWIDDIE, Va. — A self-described slow starter in her Pro Stock Motorcycle career, Angie Smith has been determined to change that in the new NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
She’s done just that through the first three events for the motorcycles, advancing to the final round at the first race of the season and currently sitting fifth in points on her Denso Auto Parts Buell heading into this weekend’s Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.
A victory would certainly keep that momentum rolling and Smith is beyond thrilled with the progress her team has made to open what has been a very competitive campaign in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“I couldn’t have asked for a much better start,” said Smith, who has two career wins in the class. “It’s been huge for me because I’ve never started off this well before. I’ve always told people I don’t really show up to race until (later in the season). We showed up in Gainesville and that was good for me. We fixed a problem on the bike in the off-season and that’s given me a lot of momentum and confidence. I know I’ve got a good motorcycle and a fast motorcycle, and I have all the confidence in the world in our team and program. For as many good bikes as there are in this class, I’m happy to be in the place we’re in right now.”
The stop in Virginia is the fourth during the Pro Stock Motorcycle season and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the last time the NHRA visited Virginia Motorsports Park, but no rider in the PSM category on this weekend’s entry list has ever won in Virginia.
Smith will look to change that and pick up her first victory since winning in Las Vegas at the end of the 2020 season.
She has certainly been close this year, losing to Karen Stoffer and her record-breaking weekend in the final round at Gainesville. She’s also qualified well at each race and advanced to the second round at the four-wide event in Charlotte.
In the midst of three races in a four-week stretch for the class, Smith hopes to keep a good rhythm heading into the weekend.
She also had nothing but praise for the track surface in Richmond, which is regarded as one of the best on the NHRA circuit. That could lead to standout performances and Smith is ready to rise to the challenge.
Smith is taking on a top-tier field that includes points leader Steve Johnson who has won back-to-back races, her husband and defending world champ Matt Smith, Stoffer, Eddie Krawiec, Joey Gladstone and Jerry Savoie.
“It’s very good to have several races in a short span because it gets you acclimated with the bike,” Smith said. “I really like going to Virginia. We’ve tested there a lot and that track is really awesome. I love the surface and they’ve done a phenomenal job there, so I’m really glad we’re going back there. A smooth surface means fast runs for a bike, so that’s very good for us. We’re just trying to find more horsepower, but we’re looking forward to the weekend and being back in Virginia. I think we’ll do well. The track is so good, we’ll have a good plan right out of the box and hopefully we can lay down a good number and go from there.”
Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence won both the 2018 and 2019 events in NHRA’s return to the track, using that momentum to win world titles in both years. He’s won the last four championships in the nitro class, but the Texan is after his first win in 2022 in the loaded class.
Brittany Force and Mike Salinas both have two wins this year, with Force currently leading the points.
Funny Car legend John Force has four wins in Virginia, with the last coming in 2000. He heads to the track on a roll, thanks to his impressive four-wide win in Charlotte. John will face off with points leader Matt Hagan, who has already claimed two wins this season, and defending world champ Ron Capps, who won the race in 2019.