The Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle features a new format for 2019, adding a dramatic flair to one of the best competitions of the season. We know the eight-rider roster already, but we do not know who will race who in the first round of competition on Saturday. The riders race during the third round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, for those unaware.
Now we get a chance to do more than speculate about who will advance to the second round: We get to daydream about the best matchups. The winner will have to go through three terrific riders, of course, but their journey may begin with the toughest motorcycle. That’s a Pro Stock Motorcycle fan’s dream – especially if a rivalry is involved.
So, here are the four dream first-round matchups for the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle; with a little explanation. Yes, we saved the best for last.
Andrew Hines vs. Ryan Oehler
Oehler came up short of winning the Auto Club Road to the Future Award in 2018, but he has put on an incredible display in 2019. He rides the fourth-fastest motorcycle thanks to engines he builds himself. Yes, the EBR he rides helps, but that 194.44-mph average is worthy of praise. He would be the underdog against Hines, who has dominated the two-wheel category, but it would mean something extra special for Oehler to knock off the former champ.
Hector Arana Jr. vs. Hector Arana Sr.
Father-son matchups are an NHRA staple, and while the younger Arana has surpassed his father on paper… well, have you ever tried to beat your dad in competition? It doesn’t matter how good Hector Jr. is against the rest of the field, he would have his work cut out for him against his dad; if for no other reason than facing the pressure of having to go back to the trailer and hear about it all weekend if he lost.
Angie Smith vs. Angelle Sampey
A woman has never won the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle and both these riders have the ability and, as importantly in drag racing, the equipment to do it. That’s a perfectly fine storyline! That is not the one you care about! Matt Smith Racing vs. Vance & Hines Harley Davidson is what we’re all here for and all the smack-talk that comes with it. I wouldn’t pick a fight with Angelle, but Angie is tougher than I am. Low bar, but it’s worth pointing out.
Matt Smith vs. Eddie Krawiec
I’m not saying I would cheat to make this matchup happen, but I am saying they won’t let me near the tires. Smith has been outspoken (quelle surprise!) about his displeasure with the new Harley-Davidson FXDR unveiled at the Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals, while Krawiec has been outspoken his whole life about everything. Smith defeated Krawiec in the final of the Pro Bike Battle in 2018 and went on to win the world championship in the category; it’s impossible to overhype the potential this matchup has, but we’re going to do our best!
You can catch the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle live on NHRA.tv or by catching coverage on FS1 all weekend long.