2021 NHRA Thunder Valley National Results
Cycle News Team | October 19, 2021
So the idea of Angel Sampey of Vance & Hines Suzuki winning a fourth NHRA Camping World Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship is not so far-fetched.
By Kevin McKenna | Photos of Matt Polito
Sampey won his third championship in 2002, and many thought it would be his last, even after joining the powerful Vance & Hines team three seasons ago. Fast forward to 2022 and Sampey is not only competitive, but she’s one of the favorites after winning her second race of the season at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee, October 15-17.
Racing against WAR Suzuki’s Karen Stoffer in a rare but not previously unseen all-female final round, Sampey won a close battle, with her 6.77 elapsed time pushing back Stoffer’s faster 6.76, in large part thanks to almost perfect reaction time at the start line. Sampey, who made his debut for Stoffer 25 years ago in the Denver round, quickly recognized the historic significance of his latest victory. His 45th victory, Sampey is now tied with the late Dave Schultz for third in the category. Only Hines and Kraweic have more with 56 and 49 wins, respectively.
“I’ve been here for so long, I’ve really come to appreciate everything I get now,” Sampey said. “When I win a race, the emotions are 100% genuine because it’s a task to get there. Getting four wins per lap is really tough and it means so much to me. I love this sport so much and this team works so hard. This mission was to catch up in the points race and we succeeded. It was a fantastic day and it would be great to find number one on the bike again.
There were other reasons for Sampey to celebrate the victory. First, she managed to get 25 points closer to leader Matt Smith with just rounds in Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif. Sampey also became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to win a race on the historic Bristol Dragway. The track, nestled in a tree-lined canyon at the foot of the Appalachians, hosted an NHRA event for 15 years, but the Pro Stock Motorcycle class had not been included until this season.
“I love this track; it’s so beautiful here, but it’s also bumpy and it was tough there today, ”said Sampey. “The biggest task for me was to bring him straight to the track. I had to stay on the throttle against Karen. Before the first round I was so nervous. But it seems like when I’m nervous, that’s when I usually do well. When there is so much going on around me, I feel like this is when I do best on the track. I’m so proud of Vance & Hines and it was one hell of a race in the final round.
Sampey didn’t have it easy on race day as she had to win races against her two Vance & Hines teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec. She also ran Chris Bostick, who took a red light.
Sampey was consistent for the most part with a 6.821 against Hines and a 6.814 against Krawiec, which was his fastest run of the weekend before the final.
Stoffer was not considered a favorite to win the race until the last four, when she unloaded an elapsed time of 6.78, the fastest race of the weekend at this point. Stoffer needed this race as it faced points leader Smith, who had also been the second fastest qualifier on his Denso Buell. Stoffer’s also beat Ron Tornow to reach his second final round this season and 25th of his career.
Before the penultimate round in Las Vegas, Smith leads Sampey by 25 points with Steve Johnson still in the mix, 56 points behind.
- Angelle Sampey (Suz)
- Karen Stoffer (Suz)