Michael Ray will make his Star Racing Debut from 13th in Gainesville
Even though I believe we could have run much better than we have so far..
Gainesville, Fla., March 12, 2011 -- The Star Racing team and rookie rider Michael Ray overcame the odds on Saturday, qualifying 13th for Sunday's final eliminations of the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. Fighting to overcome the daunting challenge presented by a 27-bike field and record-setting conditions at Gainesville Raceway, team owner George Bryce, crew chief Ken Johnson and rider Michael Ray coaxed their S&S powered Buell to a best time of 6.933-seconds, 187.52 mph run, an impressive accomplishment considering neither team nor rider had entered an NHRA event in two years, and had done limited testing prior to the event.
"Even though I believe we could have run much better than we have so far, for the first time in my life I'm pleased qualifying thirteenth," said Bryce. "We had come here after testing at South Georgia Motorsports Park, where we had run a 6.88 under much worse conditions that we had here. We came out yesterday morning and made a crummy run, rolling the throttle and going up against the wall, and ran 6.93.
"We looked at the data and video and thought we had a tenth left in our Star Racing Buell, so we made some changes trying to make the bike go straight, but we were never able to go as fast as we did in Valdosta, even with the world record conditions. We know our capabilities, so we felt we underachieved.
"However, looking at it from our sponsors' perspective, it's their first race, and they were absolutely thrilled that we were able to qualify in the quickest field in Gatornationals history, so under those circumstances I would have to say it's a good start. We've taken the motorcycle completely apart, made some changes and put it into race trim. We're going to try and avoid making any mistakes, and Michael's going to do his best to stay focused and make our motorcycle go really fast tomorrow. We'll look to throw a number on the board and see how the cookies crumble. If we run the way the motorcycle is capable, we could surprise our first round opponent and become the spoiler in this field."
With numerous sponsors in attendance, including Lister Herrell, co-owner of the Xtreme Rebellion eyewear and apparel company, the pressure was on Ray and the Star Racing crew to deliver a solid performance. Despite experiencing some expected growing pains, the team responded with a solid qualifying performance, much to the delight of everyone connected with the tight-knit team.
"If you look at how many bikes tried to qualify for the 16 bike field, I could complain about how we race, but in reality I am just so excited for Star Racing and all our sponsors to qualify for our first race with this rookie team, with all of us coming together as we did," said Ray. "Naturally, I would have loved to have made four 6.80 passes, but just making the top 16 going into race day is all I could ask for. Tomorrow is when it really counts. We made a bunch of changes to our Star Racing Buell taking it back to square one to give both myself and the crew a little confidence for tomorrow. Our goal for tomorrow is to take it one round at a time and let the cards play out the way they were dealt."
-source: starr racing