Memphis: Peggy Llewellyn final report

Llewellyn Dances to the Semis in Memphis NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Peggy Llewellyn improved her standing in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff series, riding her Rush Racing Products Buell to the semifinals at the O'Reilly ...

Llewellyn Dances to the Semis in Memphis

NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Peggy Llewellyn improved her standing in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff series, riding her Rush Racing Products Buell to the semifinals at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park. That performance moved Llewellyn to sixth, with one more race to go in Dallas before half the Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown field is eliminated to set the final four.

It wasn't a weekend without trials and tribulations for Llewellyn and the Rush Racing team, but Peggy persevered to third in the qualifying order.

On her Saturday morning Q3 pass, the front brake failed on Llewellyn's Buell and planted the bike in the sandpit at the end of the track. "I went to the beach, but I didn't bring my bikini!" laughed Peggy. "I shut the bike down a little late and start tapping my rear brakes. I started bringing in the front brake and the lever went all the way to the grip--nothing. George Bryce (co-crew chief on Llewellyn's S&S powered Buell) taught us at his drag racing school to let out the clutch to slow the bike down, and that's what I did. I thought about trying to make the turn, but I didn't want to take out the Safety Safari! It just put the front wheel in the sand, and some rocks in the belly pan."

With the rocks cleaned out, Llewellyn made a big move in Q4. "Peggy was able to run low ET of the round for the first time of her career in the fourth round of qualifying," said Bryce. "We had the whole Rush Racing crew here for that and it was cool that they were able to celebrate with us."

"I'm happy with qualifying for sure," said Llewellyn's other co-crew chief, Shane Maloney. "You always want to be number one, but it was good. It moved us up in the Ringers Gloves Battle for next year, and on raceday Peggy got to watch some of the more closely matched pairings in front of her instead of being in them."

But Llewellyn's own opening round match-up with Karen Stoffer was crucial to the championship hopes of both riders. "I talked to my niece before the round, and she said 'I hope you don't mind, but I'm pulling for Karen this round!'" said Peggy. "Then a reporter came up and said something about it being an important round. After that, I started getting nervous. But then I thought 'Wait a minute, we're doing process and procedure here, not who's in the other lane or the points implications.' I'm always thinking about my process and not rounds, otherwise I'd be a nervous wreck!"

After giving up the tree, Llewellyn out 60-footed Stoffer to drive around by the 330 and continued to pull away for the win, perhaps to the chagrin of her niece.

Again, Llewellyn spotted the tree to Maple Grove winner Matt Guidera before driving around, but this time not until well past the 1000 foot mark. Peggy took the stripe by a mere .0013 of a second--or about 4 inches!

But there was no driving around defending class champion Andrew Hines in the semis. "I'm frustrated because I found a new way to loose," said Peggy. "I guess I sort of grazed the shift button for third instead of pushing it, and it needs to be pushed. So I was on the rev limiter for a long time. It started to scream and nose over and the G-meter dived. I chalk it up as experience."

"Peggy did a great job to win the first and second rounds," offered Bryce. "In the third round, she took off and passed Andrew by the 60 foot and was well in front of him at the 330. Then she missed the shift button and it was all over. If she'd hit second to third, she probably could have outrun the 7.04 that Andrew left hanging there like a ripe fruit. That would have given Peggy her first semifinal win in her young, budding career. Then with Steve Johnson breaking in the final, who knows?"

At the end of the run, an electrical malfunction started a fire beneath the seat of the Rush Racing Buell. "I had hot buns, but I didn't know it," Peggy laughed again. "Then the Safari said, 'Are you on fire?' And I said 'Maybe so.'"

"We just didn't pay enough attention when we put the airbox on," admitted Maloney. "It must have rubbed a fuel injection wire through and touched the carbon fiber, and electricity and carbon fiber go hand-in-hand and you have a little barbeque.

"But the motors ran awesome, and that's a testament to the guys at G2. That was the first time we ran the motor we bought from Rob Muzzy in competition. We took all the fast stuff we had and applied it to that motor, and it worked out pretty good."

"We ran great," agreed Bryce. "We got the clutch fixed and Peggy was able to run the number one 60 foot again. We moved up in points and with one race to go before the final four cutoff, we feel our S&S powered Buell is prepared."

"We've got to work hard to keep up with all these fast bikes," said Maloney. "We can't go to Dallas worrying about points, we just have to go there and do our best. Then Sunday at 4 o'clock, we'll know whether we're racing for the championship or not."

"Dallas is coming up, and that's a home race for our team," said Llewellyn. "We moved up a couple of spots in the points in Memphis, and we'll look to do the same this weekend in Dallas."

"We need every point we can get," finished team owner Karl Klement, who noted that Lou and Jeremy Pringle from Rush Racing were hanging with the team in Memphis. "We had kind of an up and down weekend with the sand trap and the electrical fire, but I'm real happy. We did the best we could do, and we'll do it again this weekend in Dallas."

-credit: rr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Rob Muzzy , Peggy Llewellyn , George Bryce , Karen Stoffer , Andrew Hines , Steve Johnson , Matt Guidera