Headed to a track that has brought Angelle Sampey so much success might be just the thing to get some positive momentum on her side. Sampey, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, is a four-time winner at Atlanta Dragway, the site of this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, and that’s good news for a rider who hasn’t had much fortune to start the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
A litany of difficulties has struck Sampey’s Precision Services Equipment Victory during qualifying, and she only squeaked into the field on her final attempt last weekend in Charlotte. Hopeful that those issues are now gone for the time being, Sampey is eager to enjoy some success again in Atlanta and for the first time this season.
“If we get qualified in the first round of qualifying in Atlanta, it’s going to look like I won the race,” said Sampey, whose 42 career wins are the most in NHRA history for a female competitor. “This is the track where it all started for me, and the first track I ever raced for my training. I’ve made a lot of runs on the track, it’s the local track for our team and it’s the closest race to home for me.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 7. It is the third of 16 races during the Pro Stock Motorcycle season and Sampey, currently 10th in points, hopes it provides a spark for her and teammate Cory Reed.
Reed, named NHRA’s top rookie in 2016, started the new two-bike team for 2017, with Sampey taking on the role of rider and team manager. Sampey’s round win last weekend in Charlotte is the only one either has this season, but Sampey knows they have the potential to be great.
“We have the power, we just haven’t been getting the runs down the track because some of the things that are happening,” Sampey said. “When things start working, we’re going to be an unbelievable team. Cory’s going to be great. There’s nothing you can to do upset him, his reaction times are great and he doesn’t beat himself. Even with some of the struggles, the team’s morale is unbelievably awesome. You couldn’t ask for a better scenario. We have a good thing going.”
Getting the season jumpstarted in a talent-rich class will be difficult this weekend, as Sampey will face off with the likes of defending world champion Jerry Savoie, Gainesville winner Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines and Charlotte winner L.E. Tonglet. But Sampey remains eager to perform on the bike and is locked in on success this season, even with the added duties of being the team manager for Reed’s growing team.
“It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot on my plate but this team is so awesome and easy to work with,” Sampey said. “They’ve put a lot of responsibility on me and it makes me real proud. It’s humbling and exciting at the same time, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s amazing how smoothly everyone has worked together. But I still have every bit of passion to race and I don’t want to stop.”
Kalitta’s third Atlanta win in Top Fuel came last year, but back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, and three-time 2017 winner and points leader Leah Pritchett pose stiff challenges.
Defending Funny Car event winner Hagan had two victories to start 2017, but he’s chasing points leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has won two straight races.
Line’s second straight Pro Stock win at Atlanta helped his title run, but he will be pushed by season winners Greg Anderson, Bo Butner, Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and his son, rookie Tanner Gray.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its fourth of 12 stops in 2017 at Atlanta Dragway. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System, and Douthit Motorsports Black Pearl Nostalgia Jet Funny Car. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:15 and 4:45 p.m. on Friday, May 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 6, at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
WHAT: 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. – I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take a left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 5-7
FRIDAY, May 5 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:15 and 4:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 6 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and Round 1 of eliminations at 3:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 7 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:00 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations 12:45 p.m.
Friday, May 5, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, May 6, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 7, FS1 will televise three hours of elimination highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS:
Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Antron Brown, 4, TF; Larry Dixon 4; Doug Kalitta 4; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Dave Schultz 8 PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.731 sec. by Doug Kalitta, May ’16; 328.86 mph by Kalitta, May ‘14.
Funny Car – 3.906 sec. by Matt Hagan, May. ’16; 329.02 mph by Hagan, May. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.493 sec. by Erica Enders, March ‘14; 213.00 mph by Jason Line, March ‘14.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 197.54 mph by Eddie Krawiec., May ‘14.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
Order tickets by phone at (800) 884-6472. Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
GLENDORA, Calif. – Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Leah Pritchett, 569; 2. Tony Schumacher, 535; 3. Antron Brown, 501; 4. Steve Torrence, 470; 5. Doug Kalitta, 417; 6. Clay Millican, 330; 7. Brittany Force, 316; 8. Terry McMillen, 267; 9.Troy Coughlin Jr., 264; 10. Scott Palmer, 212.
1. Ron Capps, 518; 2. Matt Hagan, 475; 3. John Force, 433; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 390; 5. Jack Beckman, 375; 6. Robert Hight, 365; 7. Courtney Force, 343; 8. J.R. Todd, 295; 9. Jonnie Lindberg, 286; 10. Jim Campbell, 242.
1. Greg Anderson, 554; 2. Bo Butner, 464; 3. Jason Line, 457; 4. Tanner Gray, 423; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 419; 6. Chris McGaha, 365; 7. Shane Gray, 350; 8. Drew Skillman, 300; 9. Erica Enders, 295; 10. Vincent Nobile, 288.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Eddie Krawiec, 225; 2. Andrew Hines, 177; 3. LE Tonglet, 172; 4. Joey Gladstone, 135; 5.Scotty Pollacheck, 124; 6. Jerry Savoie, 108; 7. Steve Johnson, 105; 8. Matt Smith, 104; 9.Karen Stoffer, 83; 10. Angelle Sampey, 82.