Smith on pole, Ellis confident
Indianapolis, Sunday: G2 teammates Matt Smith and Chip Ellis hope to take widely divergent paths to success at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, a successful raceday will have the two meeting in the semis.
Smith, who joined the milestone Mickey Thompson 6 Second Club on Saturday, will start eliminations from the number 1 qualifying position with a track record 6.994. Smith, Rick Maney and the G2 team spent Sunday tweaking the S&S motor that has put Matt's Torco Race Fuels/Skull Gear Buell at the top of the order for two straight races now.
Ellis's Drag Specialties/S&S Cycle Buell had a brand new development engine (number 029) in the frame rails on Sunday. "It's never been down the track before," noted G2 wrench Ken "Big" Johnson. "It ran a good lap, too."
qualifying round 4
1st Matt Smith right lane 7.019 at 188.33 mph
4th Chip Ellis left lane 7.063 at 185.61 mph
True enough, Chip ran 7.06 despite the bike breaking up with a miss. "We hope we fixed it," Johnson said between rounds. He also noted they were breaking in a new tire for raceday.
"We're just doing normal maintenance," Maney said about Smith's bike. "We ran so good the first pass, we're really not changing much. A slight turns of the knobs, so to speak."
qualifying round 5
1st Matt Smith right lane 7.094 at 185.87 mph
4th Chip Ellis left lane 7.053 at 185.56 mph
"A slight turns of the knobs," was a bit of an understatement, as the team made some maintenance changes that should help on raceday, but sent Smith's performance back in the round. "We put a new tire and a new chain on and it spun really, really bad and never recovered," said Maney. "But the tune-up was good. I also wanted to find out the lifespan of a part and I found it. We used the pass as a test 'n tune. If we'd been in the hunt for the Full Throttle Award, it would have been different. But there's a lot of people out there who would have paid good money for an .09."
Johnson expects Ellis's bike to be very strong if they can get it to quit cutting off. "If glitch is cleared, Chip's bike will run 7.03 in round 1 (against Michael Phillips)" predicted G2 tuner/crew chief George Bryce. "If we fix everything, there's a chance we'll have low ET of the first round tomorrow. That's our goal."
"G2 has been struggling trying to get Chip's bike performing back to the levels before the Sonoma engine blow-up, and I think we're there," said G2's George Smith. "We were the only ones to improve in that last round. We think there's more there and we're looking forward to tomorrow."
"Matt's bike is also tuned up and ready to go," added Bryce. Smith faces G.T. Tonglet in round 1. "We made a few changes that didn't work for the last run, but every time we go the right way it goes fast. We wanted to win the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, but we went the wrong way on Matt's bike and Chip's bike and it cost us. But we sure learned a lot, and we hope to cash in tomorrow on what we learned."
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