Sampey Jumps to Third in Countdown Three time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey hasn't yet scored that elusive first '08 win, but a strong performance in the first race of the Countdown to the POWERade Championship moved her and...
Sampey Jumps to Third in Countdown
Three time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey hasn't yet scored that elusive first '08 win, but a strong performance in the first race of the Countdown to the POWERade Championship moved her and the Rush Racing S&S powered V-Twin to third in points with 2112, just 2 points out of second place and 36 points out of first. "And we'll do an even better job next time out in Dallas," vowed George Bryce, Sampey's six-time national champion tuner and crew chief.
Always trying to gain an edge, Bryce and the team pulled some new tricks out of their bag in Friday's qualifying sessions. "It was the first race of the championship, and probably not a good time to start experimenting," said Bryce. "We had some things we've wanted to try all along. We should probably get in the show first before we try stuff like that."
qualifying round 1
11th Angelle Sampey left lane 7.123 at 187.26 mph
qualifying round 2
13th Angelle Sampey right lane 7.255 at 181.26 mph
So after two rounds, Sampey was outside of the twelve protected spots going into Saturday's sessions. And after a problematic morning round, she was still not qualified with only one more shot to get into the field.
qualifying round 3
17th Angelle Sampey left lane 7.826 at 137.32 mph
"We were backed up against the wall," said team owner Karl Klement. "Angelle had qualified 178 straight times, and we didn't want this to be the first time she didn't. The pressure was on, but Angelle did a great job just like a champion should." True enough. Her last gasp pass punched her into the field, bumping out fellow female competitor Valerie Thompson.
qualifying round 4
10th Angelle Sampey right lane 7.056 at 187.99 mph
"We did get in, thank goodness," said a relieved Bryce.
"It was the closest to not qualifying I've ever been to in my 12 year career, and I wasn't enjoying the whole episode," said Angelle. "The fans were on the edge of their seats and the NHRA likes that kind of thing, but we were not enjoying it. We like to get deep into the field on the first qualifying attempt and we didn't make it in until the last.
"We had a lot of electrical problems and some clutch problems in qualifying. It was very hard and very frustrating. We never really made a run down the racetrack with a pass to tune to until the first round of eliminations. The four runs of qualifying are the chance for George and the crew to tune the bike and for me to get my head and mind straight on how I need to ride the bike. We were all a bundle of nerves, but very blessed that we were able to be racing at all."
"But after all we learned in qualifying, we felt we were well prepared to go fast on Sunday," said Bryce.
And Saturday's stress must have made Sampey wake up mad, 'cause she was a demon on the tree, rode the bike straight down the groove and nailed her shift points to slice her way through the field. "The champ had an .01 light against Karen Stoffer in the first round," said Bryce. "We ran a good number that was competitive and felt like we had some more in it.
eliminations round 1
(W) Angelle Sampey .015 7.018 at 189.84 mph
Karen Stoffer .021 7.030 at 190.22 mph
Sampey faced 65 year-old veteran rider Joey Desantis in round 2. "Joe had the lights blinking because he was trying to get back into first gear while pre-staged," said Bryce. "Angelle was confused about why the lights were blinking, but she still had an .06 light, which was good enough. She promised to do better next round."
eliminations round 2
(W) Angelle Sampey .066 7.082 at 186.64 mph
Joe Desantis .032 7.186 at 188.91 mph
And she did. The bike ran better, too. "We put a good tune-up back in the bike for the semis against Eddie," said Bryce. "We felt if we ran an .02-.03 and Angelle had an .01 light that we would probably win the round, but Eddie had a good light and a perfect run and we got beat by a few feet."
eliminations round 3
(W) Eddie Krawiec .015 7.016 at 191.21 mph
Angelle Sampey .003 7.039 at 187.57 mph
"Everybody had their chins up and were real proud to make it as far as we did considering what we had to fight through," said Angelle.
"It took a championship team to pull a semifinal finish off this weekend," said Klement. "I'm pretty proud of everybody and want to thank all our sponsors for their support."
"It was nothing that was anybody's fault, just the crazy gremlins that have been getting us all year. We didn't manage to get the win that we've wanted all season, so we were disappointed for our sponsors. Rush Racing, Doc's Harley-Davidson, XXX Racing Fuel and everybody have been so patient and so supportive."
"Thank you to all our sponsors," agreed Bryce. "And thanks to Karl and Kim Klement, and good job driving, champ! Angelle and this team can really handle the pressure!"
"It's all one big test for us, and I think we continue to pass the test," said Angelle. "One day before the end of the season it will be our turn.
"The new track in Concord was absolutely awesome and beautiful. The track workers, owners, and townspeople were great. The fans were outstanding and it really was a beautiful weekend. I wish we could have all our races there.
"We want to win more and more every weekend. Maybe we'll have good luck in Dallas like the team did last year, maybe that's where it's gonna turn around."
Angelle and the Rush Racing team race next September 18-21 at the O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals ?presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas