Ellis shines, takes No. 2
Madison, Saturday: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis shined this weekend in the Schumacher Electric Suzuki, qualifying in the No. 2 spot at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. It is the third consecutive race this season that Ellis will enter Sunday's eliminations from the No. 2 position.
Under overcast, cold and windy conditions, Ellis recorded his quickest pass of the weekend, a 6.907-second run at 191.62 mph, in Saturday's first session, which was followed by a nearly identical 6.907/191.27 in the final round. The No. 1 position he earned Friday night was surpassed, however, by Matt Smith, who claimed the pole with a 6.901/190.32.
Ellis began the weekend with an elapsed time of 7.048-seconds at 185.66 mph, good for No. 7 at the time, then improved by almost a tenth of a second in his second pass, recording an outstanding 6.957/190.22 to propel him into the provisional No. 1 spot on Friday night.
In a rematch of the opening round in Atlanta last Sunday, Ellis will meet Junior Pippen in round one on Sunday .
"It's a comforting feeling to know that the Schumacher Electric Suzuki is running really strong," said Ellis. "We actually lost probably a hundredth of a second on that last run. There's a little bump out there and I hit that and the bike wiggled a little bit.
"I think the way the NHRA has the weight structured right now there's a lot of parity. The fastest Harley, the fastest Suzuki and the fastest Buell are all within a hundredth or two (of a second) of each other every race. It's going to be up to the other Suzukis to get to work like (crew chief) Steve Tartaglia has. He works on these motors like nobody I've ever seen. He's a hard-working guy.
"I have to take my hat off to Steve and the guys working on this bike because they're the ones who are making it really easy for me. Thanks to Schumacher Electric, Matco Tools, NAPA and all the people who are making this happen. It's a real team effort and I'm the one who gets all the glory, but my team deserves it just as much as me."
The windy conditions during Saturday's qualifying rounds didn't faze Ellis. "The wind didn't affect us at all today," he explained. "There are a lot of motor homes lining the track at the top end and the bikes are so low that they're not really sticking up above the wall like the cars. We've made four very straight runs this weekend and I'm just looking forward to tomorrow. I'm really pleased with our performance. On each run we left a little bit out there and in a perfect world we probably could have run a 6.88. The air is supposed to be pretty close to what it is today on Sunday so we'll go out there and tune it up and I'll tune myself up and we'll see what happens."
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