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Sampey Rides To Provisional Pole In Atlanta

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2016
Angelle Sampey got off to a good start in Georgia on Friday.

Angelle Sampey got off to a good start in Georgia on Friday.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

The new concrete launchpad at Atlanta Dragway officially received Angelle Sampey’s stamp of approval burnout Friday evening.

A three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Sampey rode her Precision Service Equipment/Star Racing Buell to the provisional No. 1 spot during qualifying for the 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories in Commerce, Ga., at the seventh event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Sampey covered the quarter-mile in 6.943-seconds at 190.81 mph during Friday’s opening session, placing her fifth on the ladder. Sampey returned for Friday’s night session and improved to 6.865-seconds at 193.32 mph. That pass secured the provisional pole by more than 0.03-seconds over No. 2 rider Andrew Hines, the five-time/reigning PSM world champion.

“To be able to go No. 1 on Friday at Star Racing’s home track is really exciting,” said Sampey, who won her championships consecutively from 2000-02. “I want this so badly for my team. All the guys back at the shop that are in the shadows and don’t come out to the track and get the glory are going to be here this weekend. I want to go No. 1 so badly for them.”

Sampey, who hasn’t qualified No. 1 since 2008, has earned six poles and four victories at Atlanta Dragway during her career. A resident of Mathews, La., Sampey will attempt to secure the 47th pole of her career on Saturday.

The NHRA-owned track’s launchpad received a makeover during the offseason, when a crew of paving specialists poured and smoothed approximately 225 feet of concrete in both lanes to improve traction.

I’ve only been back for a handful of races and I struggled with the bike when I first returned,” said Sampey, 45, who ended a self-imposed retirement at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis in September 2014. “So the excitement of getting the No. 1 qualifier, even it’s just for Friday, is so exciting for the whole team. We’re working really, really hard. It’s a lot of work for me to stay in shape, stay mentally and physically fit to do this and I want to do it so bad.

“I know everyone says they work really hard but we really are. Racing is a mental game. If you go up there thinking you can conquer the world, it’s so much easier to perform. This is the motivation and the boost we all needed.”

Hines sits second with a 6.898-second pass at 192.22 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Hines, who won the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle event in Concord, N.C., has two career victories at Atlanta Dragway.

Karen Stoffer sits third through two sessions and is followed by former world champion LE Tonglet and point-leader Eddie Krawiec, a three-time world champ and Hines’ H-D teammate.

Kalitta, riding the momentum from his victory at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, two weeks ago, powered his Mac Tools dragster to a 1,000-foot performance of 3.731-seconds at 328.70 mph to take the qualifying lead. Kalitta, whose time and speed were both Atlanta Dragway track records, has one pole this season and 44 in his career. He was the No. 1 qualifier at this event in 2014. 

“That was a great run,” said Kalitta, who moved into the Top Fuel point lead with his Friday qualifying effort. “(Crew chief) Jim Oberhofer and my whole team were really serious about making a good run tonight. That thing left really hard. I was glad there were only two cars left after I made my run because the conditions were really good. They let the sun go down and let everything cool off a little bit more.

“We’re all hungry to do good out here. We’ll see what tomorrow brings but it’s definitely a good start for us.”

Richie Crampton sprinted to the provisional No. 2 spot with a 3.761-second pass at 321.50 mph in his Lucas Oil dragster. J.R. Todd is third and Steve Torrence, who won the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., is fourth.

Brittany Force, a two-time winner this season in her Monster Energy dragster, entered the event leading Kalitta by one point in the championship standings. Currently qualified fifth, Force now trails Kalitta by two points.

Two-time Atlanta Dragway winner Beckman took the qualifying lead in Funny Car with a track record 1,000-foot performance of 3.939-seconds at 326.32 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Beckman has three poles this season but still is chasing his first victory of the year. “Fast Jack” has 18 career poles, but none at Atlanta Dragway.

“This year we have not had the same performances as we did last year,” said Beckman, who raced to a career-high seven victories in 2015 for Don Schumacher Racing. “We’re fine when the track conditions are cool, but we’re struggling when it’s warm. There’s still some more performance in this car. At the end of the day, end of the weekend, end of the race, really the only thing that matters is holding up that trophy with your group in the winner’s circle. We haven’t even been to a final yet, and I’m hoping this Sunday is our first one.”

Matt Hagan, Beckman’s DSR teammate and a two-time world champion, is second with a pass of 3.943-seconds at 326.08 mph in his Rocky Boots/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T.

Recent Baytown winner and point-leader Courtney Force is third in her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS. With her qualifying effort Friday, Force moved two points ahead of Tim Wilkerson, currently qualified seventh, for the Funny Car point lead. Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria is fourth and Gatornationals winner Robert Hight, Force’s teammate and a former world champion, is fifth.

In Pro Stock, Anderson posted a quarter-mile pass of 6.610-seconds at 210.14 mph at the wheel of his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to take the provisional lead. Anderson, a four-time Atlanta Dragway event winner, has three poles this season and also has won three of the first six races of 2016. Anderson has 83 poles in his career, including six at the NHRA Southern Nationals.

“It was a good day,” said Anderson, a four-time world champion. “I’ve always loved this racetrack. I’ve got a lot of history here. Ever since I started this driving gig of my own, I’ve had a lot of success here. I’ve had a lot of laps both outside of the car and inside of the car, so I love coming here. We’ve had a great year and we’re looking to keep it going. We know the competition is going to close the gap on us, but we’re just trying to keep this string going as long as we can.”

Jason Line, Anderson’s Summit Racing Camaro teammate and a two-time world champion, posted a 6.615-second pass at 209.36 mph to sit second through the first two sessions. Line, who has raced to the final round of every event this season and won three times, is a two-time Southern Nationals winner and currently has control of the Pro Stock point lead.

Shane Gray is third in his Gray Motorsports Camaro. Bo Butner, a Ken Black Racing teammate of Anderson and Line, is fourth. He is trailed by Chris McGaha in fifth.

The final two qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 and 4 p.m. (EDT), setting the field for Sunday’s eliminations, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying coverage Saturday at 10 p.m. (EDT).  The network will televise three hours of finals coverage Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (EDT).


Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.731-seconds, 328.70 mph; 2. Richie Crampton, 3.761, 321.50; 3. J.R. Todd, 3.762, 323.81; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.771, 324.12; 5. Brittany Force, 3.777, 320.51; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.783, 319.52; 7. Antron Brown, 3.789, 321.27; 8. Tony Schumacher, 3.811, 319.82; 9. Leah Pritchett, 3.822, 303.50; 10. Clay Millican, 3.868, 312.64; 11. Pat Dakin, 3.878, 295.34; 12. Scott Palmer, 4.008, 295.08.

Not Qualified _ 13. Chris Karamesines, 4.532, 199.67; 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.571, 167.51; 15. Terry McMillen, 5.421, 129.29.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.939, 326.32; 2. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.943, 326.08; 3. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.946, 324.67; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.949, 318.69; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.980, 323.58; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.011, 322.04; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.016, 311.41; 8. John Force, Camaro, 4.019, 321.73; 9. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.022, 311.05; 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.042, 306.95; 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.057, 312.35; 12. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.192, 288.27.

Not Qualified _ 13. John Hale, 4.210, 288.89; 14. Jeff Diehl, 4.216, 285.95; 15. Chad Head, 5.335, 136.88; 16. Jim Campbell, 7.944, 82.16.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.610, 210.14; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.615, 209.36; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.620, 207.75; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.624, 209.04; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.648, 208.39; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.649, 208.46; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.666, 207.37; 8. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.686, 206.86; 9. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.688, 206.70; 10. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.708, 207.05; 11. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.714, 205.85; 12. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.738, 206.54.

Not Qualified _ 13. John Gaydosh Jr., 6.876, 199.67; 14. V. Gaines, 8.859, 107.22.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.865, 193.32; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.898, 192.22; 3. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.907, 194.04; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.910, 193.63; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.911, 194.80; 6. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.932, 192.17; 7. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.933, 192.69; 8. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.940, 192.49; 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.949, 191.62; 10. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.950, 193.05; 11. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.952, 190.38; 12. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.959, 194.13.

Not Qualified _ 13. Michael Ray, 6.964, 192.38; 14. Steve Johnson, 6.969, 190.70; 15. Matt Smith, 6.972, 191.05; 16. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.977, 191.10; 17. Mike Berry, 7.001, 190.70; 18. Hector Arana Jr., 7.011, 192.00; 19. Angie Smith, 7.020, 187.52; 20. Joe DeSantis, 7.046, 188.38; 21. David Hope, 7.048, 188.41; 22. Jim Underdahl, 7.196, 161.87; 23. Lance Bonham, 7.229, 183.64; 24. Brian Pretzel, 11.003, 73.60.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2016
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