Three-time NHRA champion Angelle Sampey can’t wait for another shot at the tree after a tough first round loss at the US Nationals. Sampey begins her hunt for championship No. 4 as the Countdown to the Championship playoffs open this weekend at the 37th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champ Matt Smith jumped into the points lead with his victory in Indy. But a sixth world title won’t come easy against a field that includes Joey Gladstone, Steve Johnson, Angelle Sampey and Eddie Krawiec.
Sampey, a three-time world champ, will start from the fourth spot on her Mission Foods/Vance and Hines Suzuki knowing she will need to rack up wins to contend for a title. But she’s much more focused on the small victories at the moment, knowing full well those will lead to big wins down the road.
“I’m just comfortable with where I am and a big part of that is being back on a Suzuki,” Sampey said. “I think that’s where I belong. I’m going to give it all I have, and I want it all. How I try to handle the Countdown is just trying to win each round and the points will come, and that can put me in a position to win a championship. If you do that, win each round, and win the race, the points will come. I’ve learned over my 26 years thinking way ahead of yourself is very dangerous in this sport.”
Smith, though, has a gameplan in place as he prepares for a sixth title, which would tie him with Andrew Hines and Dave Schultz for the most in Pro Stock Motorcycle history.
“I mean, it’s, it’s always good when you enter the Countdown as the points leader, but I think the biggest thing in the Countdown is you just you have to go semifinals or better,” Smith said. “Every race you go to if you’re going to be a contender, you’ve got to be up there, and like I told somebody the other day if I can have a runner up at all five races. I would take that and probably win the championship.”
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