Returning to the site of her ground-breaking first NHRA win in 1996, two-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Angelle Sampey qualified in the top spot for the second-straight event and 51st time in her career. Sampey rode her Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson FXDR to a blistering 6.76 on Friday evening, and that run was not bettered on either of Saturday’s two runs. Sampey will be paired with rookie Jianna Salinas when final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Sampey has admittedly been slow to adjust to the Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycle, which is significantly different from any of the other bikes she’s ridden during her career. Progress became evident two weeks ago when she earned the top spot in qualifying at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indy. Sampey closed out qualifying on a high note with a 6.849 in Q4 that was worth two bonus points as the second-quickest run of the round. Sampey also ran a 6.868 in Q3 to complete a consistent.
Sampey’s teammates, Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, are qualified No. 2 and No. 6, respectively, which in itself is not surprising but was a big relief to the Vance & Hines team that was late in arriving on Thursday after their transporter broke down. The team was late arriving to Maple Grove Raceway on Thursday evening, and they are racing their three FXDR entries out of the truck normally used by their Flat Track team. Hines, the top seed in the Countdown to the Championship standings, ran a 6.774 on Friday, and will race against Michael Ray on Sunday. Krawiec is paired with fellow top ten rider Angie Smith to begin the Countdown.
After struggling for much of the season, the Suzuki entries have come to life lately, and there are three of them qualified in the top half of the field in Reading. Chicago runner-up and past Reading winner Karen Stoffer made the best run of her career with a 6.790, 198.90 for the No. 3 spot and she’s joined by teammate and Indy winner Jerry Savoie who is seventh-quickest at 6.813. Stoffer is paired with Ron Tornow, who did not run on Saturday after going into the sand trap on Friday. Savoie, who has committed to running all six events in the Countdown, is racing 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr. Steve Johnson has also been impressive with a 6.810 to qualify No. 4, his best starting spot of the season.