Angie Smith makes NHRA history: Earns first national event win in first husband-wife final round

3 Comments

It should be an interesting next few days in the Smith household.

Matt Smith, the defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, lost in Sunday’s finals of the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

But instead of losing to one of his chief rivals, Smith lost to Mrs. Smith.

Yep, that’s right, Angie Smith (6.905 seconds, 191.89 mph) earned her first career NHRA national event win, defeating hubby and teammate Matt Smith.

It marked the first time in NHRA history that a husband and wife have met in the final round of a NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Matt Smith appeared headed to the win, but his motorcycle lost traction near the end of the track.

Mrs. Smith took advantage of it and rode right past to trip the win light first.

“In this sport, I’ll take it any way I can get it,” Angie Smith said. “It’s my first one, I’m proud to be here.”

Angie Smith also put a bit of levity into her post-race celebration:

“I’m really tired of dusting all of (Matt’s) Wallys (national event victory trophies),” she said with a laugh. “I at least want to dust one of mine at the house. Now I have one, and I’m good with that.”

Angie Smith did not have an easy time of it en route to her first career national event win, defeating teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines – who had combined for wins in the last three PSM events – before beating her husband in the final.

In other pro classes, Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Dave Connolly in Pro Stock:

* After five semifinal showings this season, Capps (4.095 seconds at 315.19 mph) reached the final round for the first time since last summer at Brainerd, Minnesota, defeating Alexis DeJoria to earn his first win of the 2014 season.

“It was huge to get [crew chief] Rahn Tobler back his mojo,” Capps said in a NHRA media release. “He was beating himself up. He found something overnight. He and Eric [Lane, assistant crew chief] worked all night on what they were going to do this morning.”

* Schumacher (3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph) earned his second Top Fuel win of the season and 74th of his career, defeating points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round Sunday.

“The fans that paid good money to go to a drag race got the best show I’ve seen this year,” said Schumacher, a seven-time Top Fuel champ. “It was outstanding racing. It’s cyclical. You go up and down. Right now we’re up and it’s outstanding.”

Schumacher has now won at every racetrack on the NHRA circuit except for Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia.

“I’d like to have that,” Schumacher said. “It would be really cool. Of all the records we’ve set and we’ve set everything there, that’s the one that’s out there.”

* In Pro Stock, Connolly (6.536 seconds, 213.23 mph) earned his 24th career national event win, defeating Gray Motorsports teammate Jonathan Gray.

It was Connolly’s first final round appearance, as well as his first win, since 2012.

“I had very high expectations of this team,” Connolly said. “I know the caliber of people working on it. The talent pool is deep. What a great weekend.

“This class is brutal right now. It’s tough. One-thousandths of a second separate us every weekend. Today was no different.”

The next NHRA national event, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals, will be June 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

SUNDAY’S FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Richie Crampton; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Spencer Massey; 6.  Antron Brown; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Khalid alBalooshi; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Steve Torrence; 11.  Dom Lagana; 12.  Todd Paton; 13.  Bob Vandergriff; 14.  Shawn Langdon; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16.  Brittany Force.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Alexis DeJoria; 3.  John Force; 4.  Courtney Force; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Cruz Pedregon; 7.  Del Worsham; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  Matt Hagan; 11.  Jack Beckman; 12.  Tony Pedregon; 13.  Jeff Arend; 14.  Bob Tasca III; 15.  Dave Richards; 16.  Mike Smith.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Dave Connolly; 2.  Jonathan Gray; 3.  Allen Johnson; 4.  Greg Anderson; 5.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 6.  Shane Gray; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Shane Tucker; 9.  Jason Line; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Jeg Coughlin; 12.  Larry Morgan; 13.  John Gaydosh Jr; 14.  Val Smeland; 15.  V. Gaines; 16.  Kenny Delco.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Angie Smith; 2.  Matt Smith; 3.  Andrew Hines; 4.  Hector Arana Jr; 5.  Eddie Krawiec; 6.  John Hall; 7.  Adam Arana; 8.  Hector Arana; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Michael Ray; 12.  Steve Johnson; 13.  Chaz Kennedy; 14.  Justin Finley; 15.  Shawn Gann; 16.  Jim Underdahl.

 

 

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.813 seconds, 323.89 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.095, 315.19  def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.121, 309.98.

Pro Stock — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.536, 213.23  def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.577, 213.16.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Angie Smith, Buell, 6.905, 191.89  def. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.230, 145.99.

 

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.833, 319.14 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.831, 313.15; Clay Millican, 3.920, 305.63 def. Brittany Force, 4.560, 274.22; Richie Crampton, 4.028, 300.20 def. Dom Lagana, 4.044, 297.75; Antron Brown, 3.858, 315.12 def. Todd Paton, 4.081, 290.88; Doug Kalitta, 3.810, 325.45 def. Terry McMillen, 4.341, 186.00; J.R. Todd, 3.826, 317.05 def. Bob Vandergriff, 4.081, 230.61; Spencer Massey, 3.968, 293.86 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.141, 254.86; Tony Schumacher, 3.854, 322.34 def. Steve Torrence, 3.922, 304.19;

QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.800, 325.14 def. Massey, 3.794, 323.97; Millican, 3.834, 318.62 def. Todd, 3.836, 320.97; Schumacher, 3.787, 324.28 def. Brown, 3.794, 320.66; Kalitta, 3.813, 325.45 def. alBalooshi, 3.856, 318.92;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.792, 325.92 def. Crampton, 3.822, 325.37; Schumacher, 3.825, 322.81 def. Millican, 3.860, 316.38;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.824, 323.27 def. Kalitta, 3.813, 323.89.

 

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.069, 314.39 def. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 7.026, 89.34; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.089, 313.73 def. Dave Richards, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.900, 160.23; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.107, 291.76 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.744, 176.12; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.127, 312.64 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.767, 190.14; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.120, 310.13 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.374, 224.17; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.127, 309.84 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.123, 309.20; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.064, 316.45 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.061, 314.46; John Force, Mustang, 4.129, 312.50 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.119, 305.36;

QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.095, 314.83 def. Hight, 4.067, 312.35; Capps, 4.097, 311.13 def. C. Pedregon, 4.109, 308.85; C. Force, 4.124, 312.86 def. Worsham, 4.133, 308.92; DeJoria, 4.106, 310.98 def. Johnson Jr., 7.002, 88.00;

SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 4.086, 312.21 def. J. Force, 4.130, 312.06; Capps, 4.104, 314.09 def. C. Force, 4.131, 312.21;

FINAL — Capps, 4.095, 315.19 def. DeJoria, 4.121, 309.98.

 

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.525, 213.16 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.530, 213.64; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.547, 212.56 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.532, 213.43; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.525, 213.27 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 11.043, 88.86; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.531, 213.43 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.563, 208.59; Shane Tucker, Chevy Cobalt, 6.537, 213.16 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.719, 209.95; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.513, 213.23 def. Kenny Delco, Cobalt, broke; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.527, 212.49 def. Val Smeland, Cobalt, 7.609, 142.46; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.518, 212.73 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.563, 211.76;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 7.742, 181.18 def. Tucker, 13.393, 63.99; J. Gray, 6.564, 212.59 def. S. Gray, 6.559, 213.06; Anderson, 6.551, 212.86 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.551, 213.40; Connolly, 6.526, 212.93 def. Nobile, 6.562, 213.13;

SEMIFINALS — J. Gray, 6.583, 212.76 def. Johnson, 6.525, 213.60; Connolly, 6.517, 213.23 def. Anderson, 6.549, 212.93;

FINAL — Connolly, 6.536, 213.23 def. J. Gray, 6.577, 213.16.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, Buell, 7.061, 191.27 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, broke; John Hall, Buell, 6.820, 196.04 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.922, 189.76; Adam Arana, Buell, 6.995, 193.85 def. Michael Ray, Buell, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.826, 196.67 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 10.531, 78.32; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 195.28 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.897, 193.88; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.827, 194.80 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.893, 194.35; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.799, 197.48 def. Justin Finley, Suzuki, foul; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.834, 195.48 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.904, 194.21;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Smith, 6.879, 194.86 def. A. Arana, 6.979, 193.88; Hines, 6.919, 195.14 def. H. Arana, broke; Arana Jr, 6.808, 196.47 def. Hall, 6.868, 194.72; A. Smith, 6.896, 192.49 def. Krawiec, 6.862, 197.25;

SEMIFINALS — A. Smith, 6.908, 193.77 def. Hines, 6.921, 192.33; M. Smith, 6.873, 195.11 def. Arana Jr, 13.014, 61.08;

FINAL — A. Smith, 6.905, 191.89 def. M. Smith, 7.230, 145.99.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel — 1.  Doug Kalitta, 1,001; 2.  Antron Brown, 844; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 783; 4.  Spencer Massey, 709; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 670; 6.  Steve Torrence, 651; 7.  Khalid alBalooshi, 587; 8.  Richie Crampton, 546; 9.  Brittany Force, 540; 10.  J.R. Todd, 485.

Funny Car — 1.  Robert Hight, 970; 2.  Alexis DeJoria, 716; 3.  John Force, 713; 4.  Ron Capps, 683; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 682; 6.  Courtney Force, 658; 7.  Del Worsham, 645; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 599; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 569; 10.  Matt Hagan, 564.

Pro Stock — 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 972; 2.  Jeg Coughlin, 789; 3.  Allen Johnson, 776; 4.  Jason Line, 733; 5.  Shane Gray, 713; 6.  Dave Connolly, 709; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 671; 8.  V. Gaines, 520; 9.  Chris McGaha, 492; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 400.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1.  Andrew Hines, 482; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 445; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 351; 4.  John Hall, 338; 5.  Matt Smith, 306; 6.  Scotty Pollacheck, 283; 7.  Michael Ray, 270; 8.  Angie Smith, 228; 9.  Hector Arana, 224; 10.  Steve Johnson, 218.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

Getty Images
1 Comment

There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.