Angelle Sampey wanted to show her fans, her fellow Pro Stock Motorcycle racers and anyone else watching that she could handle riding one of the powerful Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycles and the three-time champ did just that on NHRA’s biggest stage when she captured the pole position for the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. On Saturday, Sampey rode her FXDR-bodied V-twin to a 6.816 to take over the top spot in the 20-bike field. On Sunday, no one was able to match or better Sampey’s performance. She has been the low qualifier 50 times in her career, the most for anyone in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
"The thing I'm most happy about is the fact that I have more low qualifiers than [teammates] Andrew or Eddie," said Sampey with a laugh. "That's the only thing I have left on them. They've both passed me on wins. I never imagined that I'd be No. 1 at this race. It's not secret that I've struggled this year and I was starting to feel like I couldn't do it anymore. I mean, I still feel like I can get the bike down the track, but I was down on myself and wondering if I could still be competitive. Thankfully, my husband, Seth, told me he didnt' want to hear me talk like that. Thank God I have someone like that to help motivate me.
"Race day is going to be a different feeling; it's one thing to be fast in qualifying but I want to be able to win rounds on Monday," said Sampey. "I am much more comfortable now so I hope we can keep this momentum going. We seem to have fixed the issues with my bike. Andrew swapped all the parts from his bike to mine and I hope he lets me keep them but he probably won't. My daughter, Ava, is here and I think if I win this race with her in the winner's circle you're going to see some tears."
The last time Sampey was the low qualifier was the 2016 fall Charlotte event, shortly after her return to the sport after a seven-year retirement. Sampey was not a one hit wonder during Indy qualifying. She followed Saturday’s 6.816-second run with a 6.836 later in the day. Sampey used Sunday’s two runs as a final tune-up for eliminations with runs of 6.913 and 6.882. All told, Sampey earned 10 qualifying bonus points through the five qualifying sessions and as the top seed, she will race against Joe Gladstone in round one on Monday.
There was very little movement in the field on Sunday with Matt Smith (6.820) and Andrew Hines (6.823), holding on to the next two spots on the ladder. Smith, the reigning champ and a past U.S. Nationals winner, will race Chris Bostick, who is making his return to the sport for the first time since 2004. Hines is scheduled to take on Kelly Clontz, one of five women who attempted to qualify for the 16-bike Pro Stock Motorcycle field.
Angie Smith, who qualified sixth, earned four qualifying bonus points when 6.878 when she made the quickest pass in Q4. Smith, the wife of reik gning champ Matt Smith, will face Scotty Pollacheck in the opening round in a match that could have implications on the final Countdown standings. Pollacheck, who also rides a Smith-prepared EBR, came into The Big Go as the No. 11 ranked driver in the field and must win at least two rounds to overtake tenth-ranked Jerry Savoie.