Llewellyn Finishes Busy Indy Weekend NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Peggy Llewellyn had a lot on her plate this past weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Peggy's Karl Klement Racing Buell debuted new primary sponsor Rush Racing ...
Llewellyn Finishes Busy Indy Weekend
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Peggy Llewellyn had a lot on her plate this past weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Peggy's Karl Klement Racing Buell debuted new primary sponsor Rush Racing Products, it was her first race in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff series, and it was her first time ever competing at drag racing's biggest event-the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. "On either Tuesday or Wednesday, I was feeling overwhelmed," said Llewellyn. "George Bryce called me at just the right time." Bryce is co-crew chief on Llewellyn's S&S powered Buell, and a legendary riding coach. "He said 'Don't think of it as the introduction of a new sponsor, the beginning of the Countdown, or the U.S. Nationals. Think of it as just another race.' That's right what I needed to hear right at that time."
On Friday, Llewellyn joined the other Countdown contenders onstage in a pre-qualifying ceremony, then was introduced to the crowd again right before her qualifying pass. NHRA announcer Bob Frey introduced Peggy and Rush Racing president Lou Pringle as her bike's new livery was unveiled. "I didn't know they were gonna do it right before I went on the run!" said Llewellyn, who none-the-less laid down a flawless 7.029 that placed her third in the qualifying order.
"I think this event is great for us," Pringle said after the introduction ceremonies. "When I was a teenager and younger, we'd go to the drag races all the time. It's a thrill to be able to stand out there on the line that close to the action."
"It was very cool the way the Karl Klement team debuted the Rush Performance Products team to the NHRA fans," said Bryce. "I'm also proud of how Peggy handled the extra pressure all weekend."
Llewellyn's bike was lined up crooked for the third round of qualifying on Saturday and made a move toward the centerline. "I over corrected," said Peggy. "And then I double bumped the shift button."
"I finally got a good nights sleep," Peggy said Sunday morning after her Q4 pass. It seems the hoopla hadn't dissipated completely with Bryce's midweek phone call. "And I finally got a straight pass in that right lane."
Llewellyn had a relatively slow 1.08 60 foot time in the fifth round, and many in the class found the starting line to be slippery that round. But Llewellyn's other co-crew chief, Shane Maloney, took responsibility for her poor launch. "It was the clutch," said Maloney. "We didn't give her a good clutch tune-up."
Maloney and Bryce would end up singing the same lament on raceday. But before that, Llewellyn's bike stalled out of the water box--a disconcerting blip in her established routine. "You would've thought I'd have stalled the bike the round after the sponsor introduction," said Peggy, who staged quickly after the bike was restarted. "I just let the clutch out too much. But it didn't bother me or upset my process, really."
"We had a 1.09 60 foot," said Bryce. "The worst in the class."
"The engine's running good, but the clutch isn't workin' right," said team owner Karl Klement. "We've changed everything, so we're gonna go back to square one, and we're gonna test."
"We've got a serious, serious clutch problem," agreed Maloney. "We've measured, we've checked, we've double checked, and nothing looks wrong. It's hard, because we're the best 60 footing team out here, hands down, and we went from best to worst. So we'll go home, put a new clutch together, and start over from scratch. But Peggy did awesome. She rode good, hit her shift points on time, and rode straight. If we'd given her a clutch, she'd still be out there."
"I've never seen this before," added Bryce. "I wouldn't have missed five shots at getting it right if I had. Every run I thought I'd fixed it, and it was no good. Every race we go to we're the best on the starting line, and if we're not, we're second. This weekend we were seventeenth sometimes. Every now and them, the game of chance still rears its ugly head. A weekend likes this keeps me from being cocky. It's long way from the shade of that bridge (in the staging lanes) to the starting line, and that's where everything has to work.
"But I was very proud of Peggy for qualifying in the top half of the field at her first U.S. Nationals ever, and I believe that she would have qualified much higher up the ladder if I'd had a better handle on the clutch from the very beginning. As usual, Shane and Garret had the bike prepared to optimum. The S&S engines that we prepared were very reliable and fast, and I'd like to thanks the whole crew at G2 for the excellent work and timeliness. And thanks to Karl and Kim Klement for giving me the ultimate opportunity to show our wares and talents"
" It was an awesome weekend," said Kim Klement. "We're really very pleased with the turnout and the fan appreciation. The people are so nice here."
"The fans were awesome," agreed Llewellyn, who is a fan favorite at every track. "I really enjoyed having breakfast with Shirley Muldowny at the Women in Drag Racing event, and It was a fun weekend with our new marketing partner Rush Exhaust here."
"Lou Pringle, Terry Daniel and the entire Rush staff are very nice people and we're glad to have them on our team," added Kim Klement.
"Peggy is a great representative, not only for Rush, but for the NHRA as well," said Pringle. "She's developed such a fan base in such a short time. I'm amazed at the lines that form out here after each pass. It also amazes me how quickly this whole team gelled, and it shows every time they go to the line. A lot of that has to do with Karl. His disciplinary standards show in the whole team. Our association with their team brings the awareness to the public that we're a performance driven company."
"We've already exceeded a lot of our goals," said Llewellyn. "Now they're gonna go back and fix whatever's wrong with the bike, and I have full faith in them. I just need to work further on my lights and consistency."
"We will go back to Georgia and solve the clutch mystery, get it under control, and prepare for Memphis in short order," vowed Bryce.
"We're gonna get them in Memphis," finished Kim Klement.
Peggy and the Rush Racing team race next at the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, Sept. 14-16_Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tennessee