Four Riders Set for Pro Stock Motorcycle’s First Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge

Four Riders Set for Pro Stock Motorcycle's First Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge

As part of this weekend’s Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance, the Pro Stock Motorcycle category will be able to participate in the fun for the first time in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

As part of this weekend’s Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance, the Pro Stock Motorcycle category will be able to participate in the fun for the first time in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge adds competitive racing to the regular-season qualifying schedule at NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series events by matching up the two winners in the final qualifying session and pitting semifinalists from the previous race against each other in a pair of rematches.

Four semifinalists from the season-opener in Gainesville will compete on Saturday for a bonus purse and bonus points in the Countdown to the Championship. This weekend’s return to Chicago will be Pro Stock Motorcycle’s first opportunity to compete in the specialty race.

In one race, Gainesville’s Angie Smith will compete against rookie Chase Van Sant, while the points leader Gaige Herrera will compete against Jianna Evaristo. Another chance for Herrera to build on his outstanding start to the year. On his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki, Herrera has won the first two races of 2023, and he is optimistic that his strong start will continue.

“I’m excited about it. I’ve got one bad hot rod right now,” Herrera said. “(I feel good knowing that I have Andrew Hines’ (crew chief) complete confidence. On rails, those bicycles travel from point A to point B. The weekend is something I’m eagerly anticipating, and I think our team is working really well together.”

The defending world champion Matt Smith was defeated by Evaristo to advance to the semifinals in Gainesville after qualifying fifth. Her career would advance significantly and would be perfectly atoned for by victory over Herrera on Saturday.

Smith, driving a Denso Auto Parts Buell, defeated Van Sant in the semifinal of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, but Herrera prevailed in the championship race. They may face each other in the specialty event final on Saturday, and Smith has ambitious plans for the weekend. She is eager to emulate the success of her husband, the reigning world champion Matt Smith, who has won the last two races at Route 66 Raceway.

“I’m excited to race in the first motorcycle Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge,” Smith said. “My goal is to maintain the excellent track record that Matt Smith Racing has at Route 66 Raceway. I’m hoping that by outpacing my rivals, I’ll be able to finish the weekend with a little extra cash.”

With his rookie season off to a strong start, Van Sant sees the weekend as a chance for atonement. He considers it an honor to have competed in the inaugural Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in Gainesville, where he advanced to the semifinals on his White Alligator Suzuki. Winning on Saturday would be the only thing that could surpass it.

“Being a part of this deal is cool. When I first heard of the Mission Challenge, I was hoping we’d see some new faces in there and then I ended up int the first one,” Van Sant said. “I also appreciate that racing on Saturday will be the main focus rather than just another qualifying run. I still need more experience racing since I’m relatively new to the NHRA. Every round, I make an effort to become more accustomed to the bike, and getting a chance to compete in a race is a wonderful bonus.

“Our two engine failures thus far have cost us at the worst possible time. I now have the opportunity to make up for the semis in Gainesville and, hopefully, win a few rounds. It occasionally happens, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. A first-place finish would be so awesome.”

Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence and Tommy Johnson Jr. (The most recent race in 2019 was won by Funny Car, Deric Kramer of Pro Stock, and Matt Smith of Pro Stock Motorcycle, and Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will air it this year. The NHRA Pro Stock All-Star Callout will also be held on Saturday as part of the thrilling return to Chicago for the sixth of the 21 races taking place during the 2023 season.

The start of qualifying is set for May 19 at 5 p.m. CT before the 1 and 4:30 p.m. qualifying sessions. on Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 20. The first round of the NHRA Pro Stock All-Star Callout begins at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 21. Saturday at 3:15 p.m. CT, the semifinals will follow. and the final round at 4:55 p.m. CT.


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