As Sovereign-Star Racing’s championship contender No. 4 Michael Ray continues to compete for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Motorcycle title, he will be joined by 19-year-old rookie teammate Chaz Kennedy this weekend Oct. 4-6 at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
“I’m looking forward to going to Reading and running really well. We’ve been taking those baby steps forward, so now it’s just time to keep up the momentum towards the championship. We’re not out of it yet. Maple Grove has been such a truly magical place for our team. That’s where Angelle (Sampey) got her first win with the Star Racing team.
“The pressure is really on for all the teams. With the performance gains at that track, it’ll be a good chance for the teams to show what they can do. Especially with Chaz (Kennedy) coming out, I’m excited to see him get his shot. He doesn’t know how fast that motorcycle is gonna go, so he has a chance to go out there and break some hearts this weekend,” Ray said.
So far during his 2013 season with Sovereign-Star Racing, Ray has earned two national event wins, three other semifinal round appearances, two No. 1 qualifiers, low ET for the Norwalk event, and the top speed for Norwalk that also set a new track record. For the last nine races, Ray has also maintained a position within the top five competitors in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, holding the No. 2 position for three consecutive races.
With only three races left to go in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, Ray is only 17 points, or less than one round of competition, out of the second place position as he enters this weekend’s race at Maple Grove Raceway.
“I have my sights set on the championship just like Michael (Ray) does, but you can’t force it. You have to stay in the moment; make the next run be the most important one; and collect all the points you can. Then, by Sunday afternoon, we’ll have a new story about where we stand in the Countdown to the Championship,” Star Racing owner George Bryce said.
Kennedy, a Sovereign-Star Racing crew member and developmental driver for 2013, has been training with the team with the intention of making his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle debut aboard the team’s Suzuki during the last few races of the season. After receiving the sudden news that former Sovereign-Star Racing driver Scotty Pollacheck would be leaving the team to compete as an individual for the remainder of the Countdown, Bryce made the decision to continue their two-motorcycle program with Kennedy piloting the S&S Cycle-powered Buell left empty by Pollacheck’s resignation.
“I’m excited to see Chaz (Kennedy) run because I’ve helped him for two years to learn how to do it, and this will be his first time on this ‘rocket ship.’ It will be good to see how well his focus is with all the surroundings. It’s going to be intimidating (for him) to say the least. The only thing that will seem normal to him will be the inside of his helmet. But, as long as I’ve been working with him, he’s been a quick study and quick learner. I’ve been impressed with how fast he adapts,” Bryce said.
During Star Racing’s nearly 30 years in NHRA national competition, Bryce has introduced six other rookie Pro Stock Motorcycle racers into the class, including three-time champions John Myers and Angelle Sampey.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity, and my dreams are finally coming true. It’s a great opportunity to race with the best, since I’ve always wanted to race in Pro Stock Motorcycle. I was surprised to find out that I was driving the Buell. The original plan was to go out and race the Suzuki at Vegas and Pomona. We’ve been training all year on the Suzuki, so this will really mix it up. But we’re gonna go out and just have fun,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, who has been racing since age 5, has claimed three American Motorcycle Racing Association (AMRA) Championships. He was also named AMRA Rookie of the Year, AMRA Racer of the Year, and All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) Rookie of the Year. This weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals will be his first time competing at an NHRA National Event.
Kennedy’s father, Chuck Kennedy, has also been a member of the Sovereign-Star Racing team for the past two seasons as the crew chief for the Buell motorcycle formerly driven by Pollacheck.
Television coverage for this weekend’s Reading, Pa., race will begin with qualifying from 11:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. EST Saturday, Oct. 5 on ESPN News and final eliminations from 8 – 11 p.m. EST Sunday, Oct. 6 on ESPN2.
The 2013 Sovereign-Star Racing Team is a partnership between Georgia-based Star Racing and the Hungarian-based Sovereign Racing Team, the 2011 UEM European Pro Stock Bike Championship Team, owned by sugar distributor Jenõ Rujp.
The Sovereign-Star Racing Team would like to thank the following sponsors: Sovereign, Star Racing, Americus Motorsports Complex, S&S Cycle, Daytona Sensors, Worldwide Bearings, CP Pistons, Cometic Gaskets, and Uncle Hal Gottspeed Racing.