A year after edging Andrew Hines by six points for the 2007 Pro Stock Motorcycle championship, Matt Smith was attempting to hold off Hines’ Harley teammate, second-place Eddie Krawiec, and third-place Chris Rivas to win his second straight championship.
Smith entered the event with a 19-point lead and increased it to an even 20 by qualifying No. 1, one spot ahead of Krawiec’s Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson. With Krawiec holding the all-important tiebreaker — most round-wins in the playoffs — all Krawiec needed to do to win his first championship was go one round further than Smith and fend off Rivas, who was 25 points behind him.
All three reached the second round, but Smith fell out of contention with his Nitro Fish Buell against Rivas. Krawiec then eliminated Smith from title contention by beating Chip Ellis in their second-round battle.
Needing to win the event and reset the national record, Rivas got half the job done by beating Craig Treble in the semifinals, but he was unable to secure a run good enough for a potential national event backup he needed to pass Krawiec. Krawiec then beat Hines in the other half of the semifinals to clinch the title.
Rivas got a measure of revenge by beating Krawiec in the final, 6.92 to 7.00 to lift him into second place in the points, just five markers behind Krawiec, who became just the second driver in NHRA history to win a championship without winning a national event (Rob Bruins won the 1979 Top Fuel crown in such fashion).
“Once Rivas took out Matt, I knew that the worst I could finish was second,” said Krawiec. “The race against Andrew was tough, and all I can really say is that I was fortunate enough to get the win. I’m enjoying [being the champion], but at the same time, it’s a little weird because I didn’t win anything all year except for the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle.
“It’s a little bittersweet; I have this big, huge [championship] trophy, but I still don’t have a national event Wally.”
1. Eddie Krawiec: 2,471
2. Chris Rivas: 2,466
3. Matt Smith: 2,451
|CLOSEST FINISHES IN NHRA HISTORY
Hector Arana Sr.