Sampey salvages 6th in points
Houston, Sunday: The first two races on the reunion tour of three-time NHRA POWERade champion Pro Stock Motorcycle driver Angelle Sampey and six-time champion tuner George Bryce have not gone as well as the team had hoped. But they feel pretty lucky that, despite lackluster performance, they have a strong position in the point standings. From there they can solve their mechanical issues and move forward to meet the high expectations surrounding them.
The first pass of the weekend proved to be the high water mark for the Rush Racing S&S powered Buell, as Sampey ran within .001 of her opening round pass at the Gators. And just like in Gainesville, the bike posted another slow 1.12 60 foot time.
qualifying round 1
4th Angelle Sampey right lane 7.042 at 189.92 mph
That was the number that Sampey would qualify on, as the Buell's performance progressively softened through the weekend. "We did have a hurt engine on Friday's qualifying runs," reported Angelle. "Hurting engines is throwing us for a loop for what's really going on, 'cause there's definitely something that's holding us back." At the end of the day, the 7.04 was stout enough to place her safely with the NHRA's new 12-spot qualifying rule.
qualifying round 2
9th Angelle Sampey left lane 7.085 at 186.18 mph
qualifying round 3
9th Angelle Sampey right lane 7.160 at 181.74 mph
qualifying round 4
9th Angelle Sampey left lane 7.182 at 183.52 mph
The minimum weight for S&S powered Buells was increased by 5 pounds before the Houston event, yet it was the Buell of champion Matt Smith at the top of the charts as the qualifying session ended.
As Sampey's first round of qualifying echoed the Gators, so it was in the first round of eliminations. Her first round opponent again posted a scant redlight to save the Rush team from a first round defeat. This time, though, it was the bike that let Angelle down and not the other way around.
eliminations round 1
(W) Angelle Sampey .021 7.282 at 178.73 mph
Shawn Gann -.006(R) 7.196 at 182.92 mph
The G2 Motorsports flagship Buell driven by Chris Rivas was suffering through a weekend very similar to Sampey's, but the redlight went the other direction for Rivas, and the G2 team then focused their efforts on Sampey. "Ken Johnson and Derrell Mullis came over and helped our crew guys Larry Cook and Curtis Jackson," said Angelle. "All four of them, along with George, were working on my motorcycle, checking everything, changing things and doing everything they could. So it was good to see my teammate Chris Rivas's G2 team working on my motorcycle. It shows that these two teams all work together and we're willing to help each other out as best we can."
Despite the best efforts of the combined crew, the Gainesville déjà vu continued in round 2, where Sampey's Buell again got outran by eventual race winner Smith.
eliminations round 2
(W) Matt Smith .039 7.055 at 189.66 mph
Angelle Sampey .031 7.286 at 180.79 mph
"We were able to win first round again and maintain sixth position in the points," said Bryce. "But I know that's trying to make egg salad out of bad eggs. We ran really bad this weekend, never made a good run, and never figured out what was wrong. Same with the G2 team, so we're glad that we got out of there relatively unscathed. But the G2 customers really did well with the S&S packages, getting first and second. We had seven out of sixteen qualifiers, and that was really neat."
"It was really cool having the G2 team help us out after the first round of eliminations today," said Angelle. "But unfortunately, we still didn't figure out what's wrong. There's definitely a problem that they're gonna have to figure out back at the shop."
"The Rush Racing team worked really hard, and Angelle drove really well," added Bryce. "It was a neat effort that we all put forth. We worked hard enough to go really fast, to go as slow as we did."
"I did a much better job of driving this weekend, and I was on my game with my reaction times and shiftpoints," agreed Sampey. "I had a few glitches here and there but really did a better job. I was more focused and did some practicing back at home between Gainesville and here. I was determined to do a better job and feel like I did.
"But I'm very disappointed for my sponsors and all of our guys from Rush Racing, CycleSpot.com, Doc's Harley-Davidson, and everyone who supports us. I'm pretty disappointed we weren't able to put on a better show for them. It's pretty frustrating. I know George is very frustrated, but we are gonna work it out. Our team owners Karl and Kim Klement are being very good sports. They continue to give me a pat on the back and tell me I'm doing a great job, and that's very important. The mental game of drag racing can be just as devastating as the actual performance, if you let yourself get down. And I don't think the team is doing that. I think we're all high spirited and we're working really hard and we're gonna figure it out. Everybody seems to be real motivated no matter how bad things seem to be going for us so far. So when it comes around, it's gonna be our turn and we're gonna look forward to being a thorn in everybody's side as soon as possible."
"We're gonna go back to the home base and really dig into the machines and the engines and figure out exactly what we made a mistake on and fix it," finished Bryce. "Then we're gonna go test, go fast, and be prepared for the Atlanta race.
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