Matt Smith locked up his sixth pole position of the 2019 season and second in as many races at the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil. Smith ran a 6.840-second pass at 194.18-mph in the final qualifying session, improving on his 6.842 from the second session.
He will get a shot to race Katie Sullivan, who got into the field on the final session with a 7.049 hit at 191.78. Smith entered Las Vegas in fifth place, 167-points behind Andrew Hines. That makes his chances of defending his Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship long, but he can at least put a dent in his rival's hopes if he wins his second race of the season.
"We've got a lot of confidence going into tomorrow," said Smith. "We tested in the third qualifying session and it didn't work like we needed it to, so we went back to our basic setup for Q4 and went low and ran low e.t. of the meet again. So all in all I think we've got a pretty fast hot rod."
Race day is set to begin at 11 a.m. Pacific at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. You can find the whole schedule here.
Hines qualified in the No. 4 spot with a 6.866 hit, just .002-second behind teammate Eddie Krawiec. The duo will race Melissa Surber and Kelly Clontz, respectively. They both out-qualified Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Angelle Sampey, who will race for her first victory as a Harley-Davidson rider from the No. 7 position. She will take on Hector Arana Jr. in the first round.
Steve Johnson continued his incredible second-half surge by qualifying in the No. 2 position with a 6.848, just .008-second behind Smith. He will take on Ron Tornow in the first round and chase down his first win of the 2019 season. Johnson reached the final of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship opener in Reading but fell to Jerry Savoie.
Savoie is qualified fifth with a 6.870, ahead of teammate Karen Stoffer by .023-second. Stoffer, who entered Las Vegas in second place, will race Angie Smith in the first round for the second time in the Countdown to the Championship. Stoffer got the best of that matchup and will continue to chase Hines as she battles for her first championship.
Jianna Salinas, Eiji Kawakami and Andie Rawlings failed to qualify for the 16-motorcycle field.