Sampey Looks Toward Brighter Norwalk At a race marked by tragedy, Angelle Sampey had her best qualifying outing of the year and maintained her NHRA POWERade points position on the Rush Racing S&S powered Buell. But everyone's thoughts at the ...
Sampey Looks Toward Brighter Norwalk
At a race marked by tragedy, Angelle Sampey had her best qualifying outing of the year and maintained her NHRA POWERade points position on the Rush Racing S&S powered Buell. But everyone's thoughts at the Lucas Oil SuperNationals were on Scott Kalitta and his family. The Funny Car driver and former Top Fuel champion was killed in a dramatic qualifying crash on Saturday at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. "The only thing I really have on my mind is all my thoughts and prayers are going to the Kalitta family," Angelle said immediately following the race. "It was a horrible weekend. Everybody was very somber and sad. There was no excitement, only grief. Even the winners, I think, couldn't fully enjoy or celebrate their wins. It was just a hard weekend to really wanna be out there racing. On behalf of my whole team, we are very saddened by what happened with Scott."
"That was an unbelievable tragedy," agreed George Bryce, the six-time POWERade champion tuner/crew chief on Sampey's bike. "It just shocked everybody, of course. Our feelings, hopes and prayers go to the entire Kalitta family and organization."
By the time of Kalitta's accident, Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying was complete and Sampey sat fourth.
"We actually qualified our best this year and went within .033 of low ET," said Bryce. "When we went into Saturday, we put all our efforts into making perfect runs. Angelle hit all her shift points, made good laps and went 6.95 and 6.97"
"We had some really good runs in qualifying," agreed Angelle, who won Englishtown three years in a row in '98, '99 and 2000. "I think our team did a pretty good job again. I don't think we held back by any means, and we were still moving forward very well. My lights in qualifying were all good except for one. In eliminations, I couldn't have asked for anything better (at the tree), so I think my focus on that is right where I want it."
"We have room to improve and are on the right track of doing that," Bryce said after the second round loss to former champ Andrew Hines. "We're gonna go to Norwalk and keep improving."
"This is only our second year racing at Norwalk, so this is a very new track to us," said Angelle. "Anytime we go to a new track it takes some getting used to. I'm still not really familiar with the surface of the track or how we need to run there. Especially being with a new team, we're gonna have to figure that out together. We're gonna have to figure out what it takes to get the bike as straight as possible down the lanes. From what I remember it's a very good track, both lanes, so I don't think we'll have any issues.
"We do have the race back to back with last weekend at Englishtown, which is very tough. Physically and mentally, you just get exhausted. I flew home for one day and got my bills paid, unpacked and washed my clothes, put 'em back in my suitcase, and got right back on the road again. But the good thing is that you do kinda stay in a race frame of mind, so going from one race to the next is actually better. You don't lose your momentum."
The bike went straight from New Jersey to Ohio, and the team has been hard at work in the Norwalk pits. "We've been doing maintenance and putting our stuff together," said Bryce. "We're gonna try to go some rounds and move up another spot in the points."
"It's getting pretty frustrating that we haven't won anything yet," finished Angelle. "We all want to win very bad. I think our performance is showing that we can win, we just have to have everything going right. Good luck, good teamwork, good tuning, good driving, and all at the same time. We just haven't had everything all at the same time yet. But we'll get it together. I'm feeling pretty confident about this weekend."