Ellis #1 Again in Vegas
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship contender Chip Ellis qualified number one for the fifth time in the last six races. Starting right off the trailer in round one, Ellis and his DRAG Specialties/S&S Cycle Buell set the pace for the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals. Maintaining that level of performance through this weekend's finals in Pomona will be crucial to the team's championship hopes.
When qualifying was finished, Ellis and the team had also captured their seventh Full Throttle NHRA Pit Crew Challenge award of 2007 and, unofficially at least, taken over the Full Throttle season points lead.
"The bike was running good, and I was happy with how consistent I was on the tree," Ellis said about his raceday. "But I just got a little anxious in the final and short shifted the 3-4 shift, and I think that cost us the final. Other than that, it was all good."
"I was real pleased with Chip's consistency on the lights in eliminations," agreed G2 co-owner George Bryce. "He made his first final in 21 races, but then pushed the button too many times instead of watching the shiftlight. We had it tuned up to run better than the 7.05 we ran in the semis, so that would have won the final."
"That's the most consistent Chip has ridden in quite some time, except of course the final," said G2 crew chief and co-owner George Smith. "It took us 21 races to get past the semis, but we finally did it. That's the good news. The bad news is we didn't execute very well in the final.
"But overall, the weekend in Las Vegas was a good one. DRAG Specialties VP of sales and marketing Greg Blackwell was there and attended the sponsorship meeting Saturday morning with Jackie Bryce (G2's vice president of operations). It was very informative and productive and we enjoyed having him cheering us on as well. He discovered some new ways they can benefit from their partnership in the NHRA.
"We really had a lot of visitors. European Pro Stock champ Tom Tinndahn, one of our customers, was there, and we sold and delivered a new bike to Redell Harris. My brother Ken and his wife Evelyn, part owners of S&S, were there. They're the unsung supporters of the G2 team."
Ellis spent Monday back out at The Strip, working on fellow Countdown contender Peggy Llewellyn's S&S powered Buell and watching Antron Brown make his first passes in a Top Fuel car. "He did great," Ellis said about Brown. "We put a bearing in Peggy's bike and welded the frame a little bit. Now we're fixing to head out to California this afternoon (Tuesday)."
And in California, Ellis and the DRAG Specialties/S&S Cycle/G2 team will face the final showdown for the 2007 championship. "We were positioned for a golden opportunity to go ahead of the competition in Vegas, and we didn't quite get it done," said Smith. "That makes Pomona real challenging. We've got a very fast motorcycle, but we're running out of opportunities. Pomona's our last shot and we're gonna give it our absolute best."
"If we can go fast enough at Pomona, like we did a couple of weeks ago down in Rockingham (6.879 at 193.07 mph), we can qualify number one with a record," reasoned George Bryce. "If we set the record, and we race Andrew Hines in the final and win, we could win the championship."
"Tony Schumacher did that last year and that would be a storybook finish," noted Ellis. "But I'm just gonna focus on riding the bike. That's what I did this last weekend. I didn't think about what round it was or who I was racing. I'm just gonna go out there and do my thing. My bike is plenty fast, and if we can get some good air and maybe a little bit of tailwind, I think we can set the record."
"All we need is 1000 feet of air, but I don't know if we're gonna get it with all the forest fires burning up the trees and oxygen there," finished Smith. But if any team is capable of burning up the Pomona track to deliver a championship winning performance, it's Chip Ellis and G2.