Following a semifinal loss at the season’s penultimate race in Las Vegas, Matt Smith was prepared to concede the 2007 Pro Stock Motorcycle title to Andrew Hines, who entered the final event in Pomona with a 39-point cushion in the standings.
Hines had a chance to make history in Pro Stock Motorcycle as the first rider to win four straight championships, but he staged his points-leading Harley too shallow in the second round and drew a foul start against Antron Brown's U.S. Army Suzuki.
Smith saw an opportunity and capitalized on it.
Smith and Ellis then began the long climb to reach the final round that either of them needed to surpass Hines, and in improbable fashion, both did, setting up a winner-take-all final, only the second in NHRA history behind the Joe Amato-Gary Ormsby final-round bout that decided the 1990 Top Fuel championship in Pomona.
“After Las Vegas, I thought my hopes were gone,” Smith said. “My goal was to win Pomona, and I thought if I did that, I would probably finish second to Andrew. I was at the scales when the NHRA tech crew told me that Andrew lost, and all of a sudden I was back in it. I knew we had Antron Brown in the semifinals, and I thought I could beat him. Then, I had to worry about racing Chip in the final, but I really thought our bike was as good as anyone else’s.”
Smith's Torco Buell raced to a 6.94 to 6.95 victory to earn him his first championship. Hines finished second, Ellis third.
“I never expected to be there, but once we got to the final, I knew that it was do or die,” said Smith. “I just focused on doing the same things I’d been doing all day. I’ve been cutting good lights all year, and I just wanted to have one more and then let the bike do its thing. I knew that Chip was fast, but I knew that I was fast, too.
“At half-track, I was tempted to look over, but I didn’t,” said Smith. “I didn’t know who was ahead, and I didn’t want to know. I just stayed tucked and waited for the finish line. When the win light finally came on in my lane, I can’t explain the feeling. It was a mixture of excitement, relief, and a lot of tears.”
1. Matt Smith: 3,211
2. Andrew Hines: 3,205
3. Chip Ellis: 3,204
|CLOSEST FINISHES IN NHRA HISTORY|
Hector Arana Sr.