Qualifying Leader Ellis Moves Up Points Ladder While NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Chip Ellis's weekend in Brainerd didn't finish exactly as he'd hoped, no one can argue that it wasn't a successful weekend overall for Ellis and the DRAG ...
Qualifying Leader Ellis Moves Up Points Ladder
While NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Chip Ellis's weekend in Brainerd didn't finish exactly as he'd hoped, no one can argue that it wasn't a successful weekend overall for Ellis and the DRAG Specialties/S&S powered Buell. >From the second round of qualifying on, Ellis and the G2 flagship Buell were the combination to beat, snaring the coveted Full Throttle Award for qualifying performance and moving up to fourth in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.
A highlight of the qualifying rounds was the friendly but intense competition between the G2/DRAG Specialties team and the G2 customer team of Karl Klement Racing and rider Peggy Llewellyn. Klement hired G2 co-owner George Bryce to share tuning duties on his Buell, and you can bet that when 6-time national champ Bryce and industry veteran-turned rookie crew chief George Smith (the two Gs in G2) meet head-to-head, the game is on. With the pair running one-two and side-by-side in qualifying, both bikes and riders were pushed to their top level of performance by the intra squad rivalry. "When we line up against Peggy, we're really out to beat each other," said Smith. "It turned out to be the best for both teams and a good show for the fans and our sponsors."
Unfortunately for Ellis and Smith, Llewellyn went on to the semis on raceday while their own race ended in round two when Ellis cut a bad light. Hector Arana, also on an S&S powered Buell, took advantage of Chip's miscue and won the round. "Hector was running good, and it was amazing to me that after the first round there was only V-Twins left," said Ellis. "Hector and I staged at the exact same time and that just threw me off. It doesn't happen very often that both lights flash on at the same time, but it does happen from time to time and I just wasn't ready for it. I lost my concentration, and that's the bottom line. It's easy for people on the outside to say they would have done something different, but it's not that easy. Andrew Hines (the eventual race winner) was watching and said when he saw both lights come on, he knew somebody would be late. Turned out to be me."
"Chip looked perfect in the first round," said Bryce. "He was unfazed by his ability to win rounds and make the bike go fast and he looked like he was getting ready to wear everybody out."
"We're working on Chip's ability to focus out distractions," said Smith. "Sometimes it works, like in the first round when Michael Phillips lit both bulbs almost at the same time. Chip's riding ability is great, but we've got to get him to focus out distractions. The class is so competitive and it's won or lost on the starting line."
Indeed. Angelle Sampey ran low ET of the round in round one, but threw it away with a redlight. Ellis talked to her and Army team tuner Steve Tartaglia later in the day. "They were like us," said Ellis. "Everybody was ticked off, but not necessarily at Angelle or me, but at the situation. The good news is we moved up a spot in points, and I think we're on to it now. It's up to me to do the job, and I'm not gonna let a bad light throw me off. The bike ran great. The guys at the shop did an awesome job with the engine, Big George Smith did a great job with the fuel system, and Ken Johnson did a great job with the clutch. I feel bad that I let everybody down, because we definitely had the bike to beat. We just kept working on trying to get the tune-up right. We've been working on engines some, but the main thing is we had the right tune-up in it and I was real happy."
"We were making good power," agreed Smith. "The bike was performing very well. We've got smiling faces every time we're low ET for the round, and we had smiling faces from the second round throughout. We were 4/1000ths behind Peggy in the second round, but that was because Chip short shifted a little after leaving so late against Hector. I really want to thank all the guys at the G2 shop for all their hard work, especially Derek Churchwell, Derrell Mullis, Ron Rees, and George Bryce. The S&S and G2 R&D program is starting to pay big dividends, as evidenced by our performance. We clearly had the quickest bike out there.
"Overall, the S&S bikes performed very well, with the second round including six S&S powered Buells. Hector had Eddie Krawiec covered in the semi but went red, and Peggy covered Andrew but she left late.
"Even with the disappointment of losing in the second round, we did move up to a tie for fourth with Karen Stoffer and solidifying our position in the Countdown. I'm also pleased with the way the team is coming together, as evidenced by our Full Throttle Award, and it's personally gratifying to be making some good calls."
"As part owner, I was very proud of George and our team winning the Full Throttle Award," agreed Bryce.
"One of the fun things about the Brainerd weekend was having Mike Carley of Carley Foundry there Sunday," said Smith. "Mike's company makes a lot of parts for S&S and he took great interest in the technical aspects of our sport. We had a good time and sent him off with a large banner commemorating the event with Carley Foundry as our sponsor."
Ellis and the G2 team race next at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, August 16-19, Maple Grove Raceway, Mohnton, Pennsylvania.
-credit: G2 Motorsports