Ellis has sights set on strong finish
Las Vegas, pre-race: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis has his sights set on completing the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season on a high note, beginning at this weekend's Las Vegas NHRA Nationals followed by the season-ending event in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 13-16. The penultimate season event in Las Vegas is the fourth of five races for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in the NHRA Countdown to I championship playoffs.
The Schumacher Electric/XXX Racing Fuels Suzuki that Ellis rides and that Steve Tartaglia tunes has been arguably one of the quickest bikes all season, qualifying for all 16 races for the class in the top half of the field. Issues with red-light starts (which have plagued most of the top riders in the class) have limited Ellis' full potential. He has reached a pair of final rounds, earning a runner-up finish in Atlanta and a victory in Englishtown, and entered the Countdown to 1 playoffs following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend in No. 3. He is now No. 7 coming into this weekend's race in Las Vegas, 143 markers out of the lead.
"It's been great to be a part of the Countdown," said Ellis, who is mathematically still in contention for the PSM championship. "Unfortunately, we haven't stayed as high in the points as we'd like to, but there are still two opportunities to gain some pretty good ground and finish a lot higher than we are right now."
Ellis has enjoyed success at The Strip, winning the 2004 fall event in his first career final-round appearance. He followed that with another victory at the same event in 2005. Last season he qualified No. 1 at the fall race, setting the track elapsed-time record of 7.023 seconds and finishing runner-up to Matt Smith. He also set top speed of the event of 189.60 mph.
"I've tried not to think about the Countdown too much," he said. "I know what this team needs to do and it's just a matter of getting there and performing the best we can.
"I look forward to going back to Las Vegas. I've always done well there and I can't wait to return," added Ellis, who enjoyed a four-weekend hiatus from competition between events. "It's been a long time since we've raced, but I haven't forgotten how."
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