As dominant as Gaige Herrera’s 2023 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle season has been, it is not surprising that he added his name to the sanctioning body’s record books on Saturday.

Herrera clocked a 6.716-second elapsed time at 201.79 mph on Friday on his Vance & Hines / Mission Foods Suzuki, and it held through Saturday for him to grab the No. 1 qualifying spot at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis.

“It felt really good. We were kind of expected to go like a 72, so to go out there and run at 71, I'm happy with that,” Herrera said.

Herrera has now qualified No. 1 for the 11th time this season in 12 races. That ties him with Matt Hines for the single-season Pro Stock Motorcycle
record of No. 1 qualifiers. Hines accomplished his feat in 1998.

“Oh, it's very exciting. I mean, I think it's more exciting for Andrew (Hines) and his dad, Byron, and they work on those motor programs nonstop,”
Herrera said. “So that's more towards them. It showcases their work. I mean, I'm just excited to be a part of it. I'm very lucky to ride for them and
to be a part of that. And so overall I think it is a showcase for Vance & Hines.”

On Saturday, Herrera clocked qualifying runs of 6.762 and 6.781-second elapsed times, respectively.

Herrera had a dominating regular season and then had his points lead essentially erased when the six-race Countdown to the Championship began.

Herrera, who is in his first season riding for the powerhouse Vance & Hines team, slipped up at the first race in the Countdown in Reading, Pa., losing in the second round.

He bounced back and won the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals last Sunday in Charlotte to regain the points lead – 52 points in front of reigning world champion Matt Smith.

“I have one of the baddest best bikes out there,” Herrera said. “So, actually, when I got here [Friday morning] and saw that he [Matt Smith] was running it [his Buell he won three world championships on], I was actually excited
because I feel it's going to give us more competition. It's more what Matt's used to when he is comfortable on and as far as power wise, riding wise, and I feel it's going to be good. I think it's good, like I said, or like I've said, I'm
ready for it. I'm ready for anything.”

One thing is certain Herrera has been the gold standard in the PSM class this year.

The Charlotte victory was Herrera’s seventh win in 11 races this season. Matt Hines has the record for most Pro Stock Motorcycle wins in a single season with 10 in his 1998 championship-winning campaign.

“I just think it brings excitement; it brings fun to it. I mean, I've been having fun all year, but all the little changes, basically they're out to get us
as a team or me,” Herrera said. “Basically, Matt's doing everything he can to try to knock us off the top and I just think that makes us drive harder, push harder, and me as a rider try and be more consistent.”

The Vance & Hines team has had plenty of success in St. Louis. Matt Hines won in St. Louis in 1998 and 2000, Eddie Krawiec scored in 2009 and 2012, and Andrew Hines was victorious in 2008.

Herrera faces Joey Gladstone in Round One.