The NHRA Route 66 Nationals will mark the 244th race for three-time world champion Angelle Sampey but just her sixth with the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team. From the first time she first rode the team’s Street Rod V-twin during pre-season testing, Sampey knew there would be a steep learning curve, but she feels that she’s not made enough runs that she can and should deliver results.
“I really don’t have any excuses; I should be out there winning rounds now,” said Sampey. “I felt really good in Richmond. I got to the second round and that helped overcome some of the self-doubt that I had this year. When we left Richmond, I wanted to come straight to Chicago to keep going. I didn’t want an off-week where I could think about things. I just want to move forward so badly. I know I’ve been guilty at times of trying too hard but Andrew [Hines, teammate] has been great. He just tells me to ‘relax and just ride like you know how’. The potential is there. I know I can win any race, I just need to take the pressure off myself. I’m just anxious to show everyone what I can do.”
Sampey has made it to the quarterfinals in each of the last two races in Atlanta and Richmond and as a result, she’s ranked in the top ten for the first time this season. She’s also marked her progress by qualifying in the top half of the field in four of the first five races. In the meantime, Hines already has four wins and fellow Harley teammate Eddie Krawiec has two runner-up finishes and is solidly in second place in the points battle.
“Overall the fans have been great to me even the ones that never wanted to see me ride a Harley,” said Sampey. “I just wish they could see some of the finer details that go with riding these bikes. I’ve had a couple of fans ask when they [Vance & Hines] are going to give me the same power as they give Eddie and Andrew and that’s not true at all. If you were able to see the video of our runs in super slow-motion, you’d see me make some really small mistakes like not picking both feet up at the same time or moving my head and shoulders to the left or right. Those are the little things that cost maybe a hundredth or two but all of that adds up. I still make those tiny errors and Eddie and Andrew don’t do that very much. That’s the difference and those are the things I’m working on.”
For the record, Sampey has been to the final round five times at Route 66 Raceway and claimed back-to-back wins in 2002-03. Her most recent final came in 2016 when she lost to Hines. She was also a runner-up in 1998 and 2001.