Strong mid-season momentum in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class

NHRA-9-Angelle Sampey-2

Team Suzuki Press Office – August 15.

Angelle Sampey: Suzuki Hayabusa – 2nd in Championship.
Eddie Krawiec: Suzuki Hayabusa – 3rd in Championship.

Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki rider Eddie Krawiec capitalised on his strong mid-season momentum in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class by racing his Suzuki Hayabusa to a second consecutive final-round appearance in scorching hot conditions at the Menards NHRA Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, KS on Sunday.

After qualifying third overall with a 6.913-second/194.16 mph pass, Krawiec began an advance to his 91st career final round appearance with a first-round 6.908-second/196.16 mph victory over Ryan Oehler (7.081-seconds/192.36 mph). For the second race in a row, he advanced out of round two with a clutch win over Matt Smith, defeating the reigning class champion with a 6.874-second/196.36 mph blast to grab a 0.0054-second margin of victory over Smith’s 6.896-second/198.52 mph run.

A victory over Jerry Savoie (6.913-seconds/195.25 mph vs. 6.992-seconds/193.54 mph) in the semi-finals pitted Krawiec in a rematch of the most recent final round at Sonoma against Joey Gladstone, but the four-time class champion couldn’t muster the horsepower to overcome the hot-streaking Gladstone, who rode his Suzuki Hayabusa to a second-consecutive victory with a 6.876-second/195.59 mph pass to defeat Krawiec’s 6.935-second/195.36 mph run. Gladstone took over the class points lead from Krawiec’s teammate Angelle Sampey, as Krawiec jumped up to third in the standings. Suzuki congratulates Gladstone on his second win this season.

With high humidity and temperatures soaring well into the 100s, the brutally hot conditions in Topeka created tuning and riding challenges for the racers and their motorcycles.

“This is weather you don’t even want to go outside in and we’re racing in it,” Krawiec said. “We saw 110 degrees under our awning yesterday. In the semi-final round against Jerry, I was getting ready to pre-stage and felt sweat running down my forehead. It blurred my vision in one eye, so I put it on the rev limiter early and luckily got away with it.

“I was very happy with my bike set up all day today,” he continued. “It ran nice and straight, and everything worked well. I was just up against the most consistent motorcycle in the class right now in that final round. But we’re making headway and moving forward. I jumped up to number three in points and Angelle is second, so we’re in the hunt and we’ll just keep picking away.”

Entering Topeka with the class points lead, Sampey qualified her Suzuki Hayabusa in the second starting position with a 6.882-second/195.14 mph pass and advanced to the second round with a 6.970-second/196.02 mph run against Jianna Evaristo (no time). But trouble struck in her matchup against Jerry Savoie when an apparent electrical issue forced her to shut the motorcycle off mid-track.

“It was missing and stuttering. I’m not sure exactly sure what the problem was, but it just wasn’t my day,” Sampey said. “It was unbearably hot, so to keep my composure in this heat was quite a task. I’m not defeated by any means. I’m a little disappointed that we lost the points lead, but Indy is a big race with points and a half, so things can change there. It doesn’t really matter where you are going into the Countdown, it matters how you finish those last five races. That’s what I’m focusing on.”

Crew Chief Andrew Hines was unable to immediately pinpoint the problem with Sampey’s motorcycle but said the Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki team will return to its shop in Indianapolis to sort out the issue in preparation for the upcoming U.S. Nationals over the Labor Day weekend.

“It was definitely not our most phenomenal weekend, but it’s something to learn from. Luckily, we won’t run in conditions like this the rest of the year,” Hines said. “We brought some experimental parts to test that didn’t really work out for us in qualifying. We put our regular parts back in for today and at least got one bike in the final. Our Suzukis are very competitive, but Joey had everything dialled this weekend. That’s just the way it is sometimes. We’ve got some work to do in the next couple of weeks, but we’ll treat Indy like any other race and move on from there.”

After nine of 15 rounds, Sampey and Krawiec currently sit second and third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship standings with 660 and 628 points, respectively. The Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle team will be back in action on August 31 – September 5th at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis, IN.

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