Ellis Keeps G2 Win Machine in High Gear The G2 Motorsports NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team capped off their three-races-in-three-weeks road trip with their second straight win, this time courtesy of Chip Ellis and the DRAG Specialties/S&S Cycle...
Ellis Keeps G2 Win Machine in High Gear
The G2 Motorsports NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team capped off their three-races-in-three-weeks road trip with their second straight win, this time courtesy of Chip Ellis and the DRAG Specialties/S&S Cycle Buell. Gaining momentum as raceday wore on, Ellis took out Louisiana privateer Michael Phillips in the final round of the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals near St. Louis. Chip is now 4-0 in NHRA finals.
"Big" Johnson Makes the Big Call
Through the first three rounds of qualifying, Ellis hardly looked to be heading to the winners circle. Mired in tenth, Chip was two rounds behind teammate Matt Smith, the winner at Englistown last week on the Torco Race Fuels/Skull Gear Buell. The momentum of Matt's win and Chip's 6-second, number 1 qualifying performances seemed to have withered in the stifling St. Louis heat and humidity.
But then Ellis's crew chief Ken "Big" Johnson made a decision that turned their weekend around. "We had kept tuning on the motor that we went 6's with in Chicago and Englishtown," said Ellis. "It's been in the bike through this whole three week stretch. But in the first round of qualifying I hit the bump in the right lane and went from third to fourth right away, basically skipping third altogether. I think that caused some detonation and did something to the motor. Ken made the call to change engines and after that we were flying."
Ellis went from a best of 7.17 to a 7.09 and all the way to third. "Honestly, I think we could have qualified on the pole but I left one of the oil lines loose and we had no vacuum," reported Chip. "We went 7.09 with no vacuum."
Round 1 Hits and Misses
Meanwhile, Smith was consistent in qualifying, but consistent .16's in the middle of the pack. On raceday, though, Matt's bike fell off to a 7.27 in round 1. That wasn't good enough to get past Angelle Sampey and Smith would have to be a spectator the rest of the day. "I was disappointed the way the bike ran this weekend," said Matt. "But the team finally figured Chip's bike out and it flew."
"Saturday night, we put a new engine in Matt's bike because it had worked so well when we put a new one in Chip's," said George Bryce, the Star Racing half of G2. "But in the first round Sunday morning, we didn't have the correct tune-up in the fuel injection and it was really rich. It was perplexing to us because obviously it worked with Chip's. But it turned out that we'd missed the fuel percentage a lot. Matt drove it real good, got a good light, and hit his shift points and he deserved a better result. We tried to talk about his run back at the trailer and he said 'Let's concentrate on Chip.' Matt's become a really good teammate to Chip."
Ellis caught a huge break when Karen Stoffer redlit against him in round 1. "We should have gone home first round, but we had luck on our side," said Chip. "And we haven't had too much luck all year. We'd pinched some coil wires. About halfway through third gear, it went on one cylinder and I shut it off. I thought we'd blown the motor, but Ken found those wires."
Steve Johnson also redlit against Ellis in the second round, but this time Chip didn't need the break. "My bike was fast (7.13), and it was just a normal run," said Ellis, who said much the same about his winning 7.14 against Sampey in the semis. Again in the final against Phillips, Chip and the Buell kept it steady with a 7.15 while Phillips bogged and fell off to a 7.29.
"It was just our day," said Ellis. "All went smooth other than that one little incident. I was kidding George Smith (the S&S half of G2) on the phone Saturday night. I said 'I'm sorry you're not gonna be there to see me win.' He's a vital part of our organization and I wish he could have been there for the win."
"I'm thrilled to death and smiling from ear to ear that Chip won," said Matt. "If you can't win, you want your teammate to win."
"Chip was solid as a rock and we were very fortunate to run all our laps consistent," said Bryce. "It was very tempting yesterday to make dramatic tuning changes."
The win provided a special backdrop for some of G2's sponsors. Dan and Sharon Haak of DRAG Specialties were there shooting photos and writing a story. "And St. Louis area dealer Doc's Harley-Davidson were associate sponsors for the weekend," continued Bryce. "Their whole staff was there plastered to the suite windows like decals and gummi bears for the final, then screaming and yelling in the winners circle!"
The Long Road Winds Down
"After being on the road for 21 days straight, my longest road trip as a touring pro, I'm very proud of our assembled cast," said Bryce. "We had everybody cooped up in trucks and hotel rooms and washing clothes. We're not naturally forced to live in such close proximity to people who aren't blood relatives, but we've all gelled in the common interest of winning races, along with the gang back at G2 and the powerplant providers at S&S."
Bryce also pointed out the winner of the Chicago race was G2 customer Ryan Schnitz, and St. Louis number 1 qualifier was G2 customer Tom Bradford. That meant that G2 Buells swept the table of wins and number 1 qualifiers on the grueling 3 race stretch. "Our customers have some serious engine development programs, and those guys are gonna continue to go to the front," said George.
"To sum it all up for our team," finished Ellis. "Three races, gone for 21 days, won two races, on the pole twice, went in the 6's twice. I think that says a lot about our team and how everybody is working together right now. And I feel really good. That redlight thing at Englishtown made me better for sure. I'm ready to go again. We'll freshen everything up and head on out to Denver."