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Team Liberty To Retreat After Missing The Countdown

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 12 2017

Angelle Sampey and her Team Liberty organization will sit out races in the Countdown after having failed to secure a berth in the six-race playoffs. (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Having failed to qualify for NHRA’s impending playoff season, Team Liberty Racing’s Cory Reed and Angelle Sampey have opted to take time off from the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule to focus on their Pro Stock Motorcycle engine program.

NHRA’s six-race Countdown to the Championship postseason will begin with the 10th annual Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., Sept. 15-17. Reed and Sampey plan to return to the series for the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 26-29.

“We decided as a team to take a step back to regroup and get ready for next year,” team-owner and 2016 Rookie of the Year Reed said in a release from Cordele, Ga. “We have a lot of shop plans while we take this break. Our dyno is on the way and we’ve got a bunch of little things to do that we haven’t been able to do while on the road. It sucks not to race because we’re racers and that’s what we want to be doing, but sitting-out these next few races will benefit us in the long run.”

Sampey, a three-time PSM world champion, noted the team faced a number of logistical and mechanical hurdles this season.

“This year was not only the birth of Team Liberty Racing but the birth of the Victory Magnum motorcycle with a brand new S&S engine,” Sampey said. “We started this team from the ground-up. We didn’t have a shop, race rig or bikes when this all came together. We worked hard and I’m very, very proud of the year we’ve had so far.

“Cory and I didn’t make the Countdown to the Championship but our goal was to qualify both bikes at every race we entered and we’ve done that so far, even with unfortunate engine failures and hurt engines. Even if we wanted to go to Charlotte, we have five engines that need to be repaired and it’s a three-in-a-row (schedule) which doesn’t help us. We’re looking at this time off as an opportunity to stay at the shop, repair those engines, find what’s causing the failures and get our dyno in place.”

The downtime will prove especially beneficial to Chris Rivas, the team’s co-crew chief and a former Pro Stock Bike competitor.

“There are several new pieces of equipment that have become available to us that will help us make the engines more reliable and pick up the performance level,” Rivas said. “Between the new equipment and components that are on the way to our shop, it’s just smarter to stay at the shop and work on those things so our team can come back stronger in Vegas in October.”

Reed and Sampey are partnered this season with S&S Cycle, Precision Reprographics, David Ward with High Performance Lubricants and Chris Himmler with Allegany Motor & Pump Service.

The top-10 in points in PSM, Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock were firmed-up during the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Clermont, Ind., on Sept. 4.

After competing at zMAX Dragway, the playoff schedule will continue with the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., from Sept. 21-24; the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Sept. 29-Oct. 1; the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Oct. 12-15; the Toyota Nats in Vegas and the 53rd annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9-12.  

“Cory and I also want to apologize to the fans that we won’t be able to see at the races we won’t be attending,” Sampey said. “We’re very disappointed but we’re excited to come back to the track in Las Vegas.”


Point standings (top-10)  heading into the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., Round 19 of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule:

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. LE Tonglet, 958; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 884; 3. Hector Arana Jr., 781; 4. Jerry Savoie, 768; 5. Matt Smith, 696; 6. Andrew Hines, 620; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 611; 8. Joey Gladstone, 475; 9. Karen Stoffer, 457; 10. Angie Smith, 443.

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 1,667; 2. Antron Brown, 1,599; 3. Leah Pritchett, 1,563; 4. Tony Schumacher, 1,220; 5. Doug Kalitta, 1,126; 6. Brittany Force, 1,105; 7. Clay Millican, 1,080; 8. Terry McMillen, 770; 9. Scott Palmer, 698; 10. Shawn Langdon, 647.

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps, 1,530; 2. Robert Hight, 1,344; 3. Matt Hagan, 1,280; 4. Jack Beckman, 1,275; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,229; 6. Courtney Force, 1,072; 7. John Force, 1,007; 8. J.R. Todd, 959; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 902; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 730.

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner, 1,616; 2. (tie) Greg Anderson, 1,423; Tanner Gray, 1,423; 4. Drew Skillman, 1,270; 5. Jason Line, 1,206; 6. Erica Enders, 1,093; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,054; 8. Vincent Nobile, 947; 9. Allen Johnson, 736; 10. Chris McGaha, 728.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 12 2017
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