Sampey earns historic Pro Stock Motorcycle victory at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Angelle Sampey powers to second Wally in three events
Angelle Sampey became the first NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle national event winner in Bristol Dragway history Sunday at the 20th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Sampey, the winningest female racer in NHRA history, added Wally trophy No. 45 to her collection by outrunning rival Karen Stoffer in the final round at the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship Playoff event.
The bikes raced two exhibition events at Thunder Valley in 1999 and 2000, but had never been featured in a championship points-paying event at the Tennessee quarter-mile prior to this weekend. Sampey’s victory Sunday trimmed leader Matt Smith’s series lead to 25 points with two races to go as she pursues her fourth NHRA championship crown.
Sampey shared the Bristol winner’s stage with Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Mike Salinas (Top Fuel).
“The mission this weekend was to try and catch back up,” said Sampey of her second win of the season. “I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the year, but I would like to get the No. 1 back on the bike. I never know if this is going to be the last time I will win or the last time I can win a championship and that’s why I am so focused and enjoying it so much. When I win a race the emotions are 100 percent genuine and that’s why I was so excited out there. I love the sport so much that I really dread when it’s going to be my last time out here. I am not ready to go anywhere.”
Sampey outran her Vance & Hines teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec and also Chris Bostick in earlier rounds to advance to the final round. In the final she used a near perfect .010 reaction time and clocked a 6.773 at 196.85 to cross the finish line in front of fellow Suzuki rider Stoffer, who trailed with a quicker, but losing performance of 6.760 at 197.83.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am to win this race,” Sampey said. “We love Tennessee and we love Bristol and I love winning. I am so glad to be back and this facility is absolutely beautiful. Today was so great. It was tricky to get down this track on a motorcycle. When I am nervous, that’s when I usually do well. When there’s a lot going on in my head is when I do the best on the race track. The biggest task for me was to get it straight down the track. It was a challenge, but we were able to win and it’s been a fantastic day.”
PSM points leader Smith lost to Stoffer in the semifinals when his Buell slowed down track. The other championship hopeful, Steve Johnson, who is third in the series standings, was upset in the opening round by Ron Tornow.
Funny Car No. 1 qualifier DeJoria captured her first victory since the 2017 season when she powered her Toyota past JR Todd in the final round. It was her first victory at Bristol in her second final round appearance at the Tennessee track. Her first career Funny Car final round took place at Thunder Valley in 2012 where she lost to Ron Capps.
“It’s a very special track to me,” DeJoria said. “Del (Worsham, crew chief) and I, this is the first place I went to a final round my first year. To come back here with Del and make it to the final and win, means the world to me. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks, it’s just so beautiful here. I just love it here. The sounds, the people. We love what we do, and we did a great job today.”
DeJoria was emotional after getting the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday and with the victory today she was literally over the moon with happiness. After taking a two-year break from the sport in 2018 and 2019, she feels like her team is really back in the groove.
“It’s a huge weight lifted off our shoulders,” DeJoria said. “The No. 1 was a first step. We got that and now to get the Wally at the same race is just insane. We knew we could do this, it was just a matter of time.”
DeJoria raced past Paul Lee and Robert Hight to get to the final, where she posted an incredible .002 reaction time and followed it with a 3.921 at 327.66 in her Toyota to take the win light over fellow Camry racer Todd, who finished in 3.939 at 326.32.
“This win has been one of the biggest, after taking two years off,” DeJoria said. “It’s been a roller coaster. We’ve been struggling. We kept wondering when we were gonna catch a break. Thank God because I have been really depressed the last couple of races. You come home and you are all bummed out. It’s racing. It’s very humbling. But today I was just ready. I was ready to win. I was calm, cool and collected and I was excited.”
Ron Capps regained the series points lead after advancing to the semifinals with round wins over Blake Alexander and Cruz Pedregon. He holds a slim one-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, who was upset in the opening round by Todd.
Californian Salinas captured his second consecutive Bristol Top Fuel victory in his third straight final round appearance in the Volunteer state. This time he defeated the series points leader and current category kingpin Steve Torrence in the final round.
“This track loves me, what can I say,” Salinas said. “I am literally going to buy a lake house here in Tennessee. The people are so nice and I have met so many great people from around here and they were all here this weekend cheering me on.”
Salinas posted a 3.854 at 245.05 in the final while Torrence, who was making his third career Bristol final appearance, lost traction at the hit of the throttle in his quest to earn his 10th victory of the season.
Salinas defeated a tough trio of racers in early rounds in Antron Brown, Clay Millican and Brittany Force to get the opportunity to face Torrence, the current class points leader.
“Everybody brings their A-game these days so you know every time you go up there you are going to have a tough race, and we had some tough ones today,” Salinas said. “The way I look at it now is it's just a matchup. I didn’t know I was running Clay Millican. I don’t know who I am running until I get in the lane next to them. That’s the best way for me to do this, is to race the track. I don’t race anyone else. Steve is a great champion and he does a great job. Everybody is stepping their game up, and good just isn’t good enough anymore. You really have to step your game up to compete.”
Torrence heads to NHRA’s next series stop at The Strip in Las Vegas (Oct. 29-31) with a 73-point lead over Brittany Force. With the win Salinas moved to fourth in the standings, 150 back of Torrence.
In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series, JR Gray Jr. claimed the victory over defending Bristol winner and newly crowned series champ Jose Gonzalez. Gray powered his late model Camaro to a 5.699 at 250.64 to hold off Gonzalez’ ’69 Camaro, which trailed with a 5.744 at 249.49. With the runner-up finish Gonzalez secured the series championship, the first of his career.
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NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS FINAL ROUND RESULTS
Top Fuel -- Mike Salinas, 3.854 seconds, 245.05 mph def. Steve Torrence, 10.316 seconds, 81.57 mph.
Funny Car -- Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.921, 327.66 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.939, 326.32.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.773, 196.85 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.760, 197.83.
Super Stock -- Greg Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 9.872, 131.91 def. Jeff Dona, Pontiac Firebird, 9.684, 139.33.
Stock Eliminator -- Brett Candies, Ford Mustang, 9.147, 142.85 def. Mark Lewis, Chevy Camaro, 10.777, 115.89.
Super Comp -- Jack Sepanek, Dragster, 8.930, 178.87 def. Adam Gerber, Dragster, 8.973, 152.73.
Super Gas -- Jacob Elrod, Chevy Corvette, 10.039, 150.87 def. Tim Powell, Corvette, 11.361, 93.34.
Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Chad Taylor, Dragster, 7.088, 186.90 def. Steve Furr, Dragster, Broke.
Pro Modified -- JR Gray, Chevy Camaro, 5.699, 250.64 def. Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.
NHRA CAMPING WORLD DRAG RACING SERIES ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS
ROUND ONE -- Clay Millican, 3.840, 327.90 def. Josh Hart, 13.886, 24.26; Spencer Massey, 3.745, 328.46 def. Leah Pruett, 7.565, 81.47; Brittany Force, No Time Recorded def. Lex Joon, 20.583, 660.14; Mike Salinas, 3.672, 334.32 def. Antron Brown, 4.381, 189.47; Billy Torrence, 4.120, 201.34 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.236, 133.63; Steve Torrence, 3.729, 328.38 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.438, 176.81; Justin Ashley, 3.690, 334.48 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.739, 327.43;
QUARTERFINALS -- Force, 3.671, 332.10 def. Massey, 3.777, 320.13; S. Torrence, 3.680, 333.00 was unopposed; Ashley, 3.708, 333.33 def. B. Torrence, 3.705, 327.27; Salinas, 3.707, 326.63 def. Millican, 3.740, 329.26;
SEMIFINALS -- Salinas, 3.698, 330.55 def. Force, 8.209, 79.25; S. Torrence, 3.677, 331.69 def. Ashley, 3.691, 334.15;
FINAL -- Salinas, 3.854, 245.05 def. S. Torrence, 10.316, 81.57.
ROUND ONE -- Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.016, 288.77 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 6.522, 103.46; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.030, 269.83 def. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 8.033, 87.70; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.997, 272.12 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 8.069, 77.10; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.945, 328.38 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 7.575, 78.95; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.924, 324.90 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.958, 326.16; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.940, 328.46 def. Cory Lee, Mustang, 7.391, 96.08;
Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.964, 294.11 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.023, 311.63;
QUARTERFINALS -- DeJoria, 3.931, 321.04 was unopposed; Capps, 3.919, 329.83 def. Pedregon, 3.920, 326.63; Hight, 3.920, 329.34 def. Tasca III, 4.338, 220.55; Todd, 3.916, 328.78 def. Force, 4.118, 324.59;
SEMIFINALS -- DeJoria, 3.904, 327.74 def. Hight, 3.934, 329.10; Todd, 3.921, 327.82 def. Capps, Foul - Centerline;
FINAL -- DeJoria, 3.921, 327.66 def. Todd, 3.939, 326.32.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE -- Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.994, 188.46 def. Charles Poskey, Suzuki, 7.117, no speed; Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.895, 196.93 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.998, 189.98; Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.006, 186.36 def. Ryan Oehler, 8.503, 113.31; Ron Tornow, 6.984, 187.83 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 13.777, 58.06; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.821, 195.62 def. Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.887, 195.70; Scotty Pollacheck, 6.894, 197.71 was unopposed; Matt Smith, 6.853, 199.08 def. Angie Smith, Broke - No Show;
Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.160, 152.97 def. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.778, 175.62;
QUARTERFINALS -- Stoffer, 6.834, 195.14 def. Tornow, 7.054, 187.29; Krawiec, 6.844, 199.29 def. Pollacheck, 6.895, 198.23; M. Smith, 6.843, 198.20 def. Clontz, 6.965, 190.78; Sampey, 7.075, 154.33 def. Bostick, Foul - Red Light;
SEMIFINALS -- Sampey, 6.814, 194.18 def. Krawiec, 7.964, 119.21; Stoffer, 6.785, 196.87 def. M. Smith, 6.895, 196.99;
FINAL -- Sampey, 6.773, 196.85 def. Stoffer, 6.760, 197.83.
NHRA CAMPING WORLD DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
Top Fuel: 1. Steve Torrence, 2,575; 2. Brittany Force, 2,502; 3. Justin Ashley, 2,428; 4. Mike Salinas, 2,425; 5. Billy Torrence, 2,357; 6. Leah Pruett, 2,291; 7. Clay Millican, 2,265; 8. Antron Brown, 2,252; 9. Shawn Langdon, 2,228; 10. Doug Kalitta, 2,180.
Funny Car: 1. Ron Capps, 2,490; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,489; 3. J.R. Todd, 2,407; 4. (tie) John Force, 2,389; Cruz Pedregon, 2,389; 6. Bob Tasca III, 2,343; 7. Robert Hight, 2,337; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 2,319; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,249; 10. Blake Alexander, 2,184.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Matt Smith, 2,451; 2. Angelle Sampey, 2,426; 3. Steve Johnson, 2,395; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,340; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,291; 6. Karen Stoffer, 2,250; 7. Joey Gladstone, 2,235; 8. Angie Smith, 2,225; 9. Andrew Hines, 2,177; 10. Ryan Oehler, 2,150.