With two season wins and a top 10 ranking in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor John Hall is excited about finishing off his sophomore season in a positive fashion, riding for the Matt Smith-owned Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell team.
Riding high after winning the last regular-season event in Indianapolis and advancing to the Countdown to the Championship for the first time, Hall was met with a rude welcome at the first three playoff events: He posted back-to-back first-round losses in Charlotte and Dallas and lost in the second round in St. Louis. But Hall says he has already exceeded his preseason expectations and is hoping to finish on a high note as he prepares for the 29th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, Oct. 3-6 at scenic Maple Grove Raceway.
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), V. Gaines (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last season’s winners at the race, round No. 4 in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
“I feel very confident as we arrive in Reading,” Hall said. “This entire season has been a dream come true for me. I’m just glad to be in the Countdown along with [team owner] Matt [Smith] and the whole team. We have just three races left but still lots of room to step it up and keep climbing. It’s going to be tough with the many great riders in the class, but this Viper team is ready and able to win the championship.”
The New England native has been red-hot in the class this season, knocking down former world champs and taking victories at the inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals in Epping and the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. With those victories, Hall earned his first playoff start and sits eighth in the standings aboard his Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell.
Hall said his win in Indy will be one he cherishes forever.
“Racing Matt was more fun than anything, and the win was the icing on the cake,” Hall said. "I’m so honored to become a part of NHRA history and take home wins for two notable events. Now, it’s playoff time, and it’s time to shine.”
Hall, who lives just more than three hours from Reading in Connecticut, hopes to continue that forward trend at his home-away-from-home race this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway. After all, the famously fast track has been good to his teammate/crew chief Smith, who is a past winner at the Pennsylvania dragstrip.
“I’m staying calm and focused as we arrive in Reading,” Hall said. “Last season, I was just learning how to race and get comfortable on a bike. Now, I’m more relaxed, comfortable, and confident in this team. So the weekend of Reading, I’m looking forward to having my family come down to the event and cheer me on.”
Smith, who took over the series points lead for the first time this season with his win last weekend in St. Louis, also has much to cheer about with his successful team expansion.
“These last seven races have been a blast,” Smith said. “I think the highlight of my year has been John and me in the final of the U.S. Nationals. We all know what that race means, but to be racing your teammate in the final was nothing short of amazing. I knew we had some good motorcycles; we just had to get the lucky breaks and round-wins.”
Hector Arana Sr. and Hector Arana Jr. are tied for second in the points standings, 75 back of Smith. Michael Ray and defending world champ Krawiec round out the top five in points. St. Louis runner-up LE Tonglet, the 2010 world champ, seems to have his Nitro Fish Suzuki back in solid form and is marching to the top of the points standings.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will also thrill the crowds throughout the weekend with intense competition on the track.
As always, every ticket purchased for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals is a pit pass, which offers an extraordinary look behind the scenes in the world of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and enjoy some face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals qualifying opens Friday, Oct. 4, with sessions at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Oct. 5, at 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.
For tickets and other great ticket offers for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, call Maple Grove Raceway, 610-856-9200, or log on to www.maplegroveraceway.com.