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Michael Ray moves up to No. 4 in the Countdown

 

after semifinals appearance at St. Louis



AMERICUS, Ga. – Sovereign-Star Racing’s Michael Ray raced to his fifth semifinals appearance of the 2013 season this past weekend at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals and advanced to the No. 4 position in the NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown to the Championship.

Ray moved up one spot in the overall points standings from No. 5 to No. 4, leaving him only 17 points, or less than one round of competition, out of the second place position.

“They haven’t given anyone that Championship title yet. There’s a lot of racing still left to go, and I’d say we’re definitely not out of this yet. We may have an uphill road towards winning the Championship, but anything can happen on Sundays. You can go from hero to zero. I think if we can keep up this consistency that we’ve shown, then we can keep turning some heads and have a real legitimate shot to go win (the Championship),” Ray said.

Over the weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Mo., Ray set the low ET (Elapsed Time) of the round twice during qualifying and posted the second and third lowest ETs for the other two sessions, earning a total of nine bonus points towards the Championship.

“As a team, I think we did twice as good as we did in Dallas as far as consistency and performance. Out of seven runs on three different days, Michael’s average was a 6.852 (ET). Also, Michael’s 196.99 mile per hour from Q3 (qualifying round three) was the second best mile per hour ever for our company,” Star Racing owner George Bryce said.

Ray was the No. 2 qualifier going into Sunday’s eliminations after setting a new career best ET of 6.830 seconds at 196 mph during Saturday’s qualifying sessions.

The team’s S&S Cycle-powered Buell continued to produce consistent numbers during Sunday’s elimination rounds, beginning with Ray’s 6.860-second win over No. 15 qualifier Shawn Gann’s 6.939 pass in round one.

Ray advanced to the second round to face No. 10 qualifier Jerry Savoie. Ray turned on the win light and set the low ET of the round after improving from his previous time to a 6.855 ET against Savoie’s 6.919.

In the semifinals, Ray was up against No. 3 qualifier Matt Smith, who took the win after Ray left too soon from the starting line to turn on the red light.

“Overall, it was a great weekend. We really improved our consistency on both sides. Our motorcycle ran well and I did a really good job of driving the bike, but unfortunately in the semis I pushed the tree too hard and came up on the wrong side of the light. I didn’t really change my routine any; I was just a little quicker on the trigger than I had been (the previous runs),” Ray said.

On Tuesday morning before the St. Louis event, Scotty Pollacheck announced that he would no longer be driving one of the Sovereign-Star Racing team’s two motorcycles for the remaining four races of the season. Pollacheck also said that he would, instead, be driving his own motorcycle tuned by Matt Smith Racing, leaving the Sovereign-Star Racing team with only one championship contender. Pollacheck was No. 6 in the points standings at the time of his resignation from Sovereign-Star Racing.

With such short notice before the St. Louis race, NHRA would not allow Sovereign-Star Racing to enter Chaz Kennedy as the replacement driver to pilot their second motorcycle at the event. Kennedy, a 19-year-old recent high school graduate, has been training with Sovereign-Star Racing throughout the 2013 season because the team had planned to have him race their new Pro Stock Suzuki at the last two events in Las Vegas and Pomona. The team now plans for Kennedy to make his first pass in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle this coming weekend in Reading, Pa., on the Buell left empty by Pollacheck’s resignation.

“We have three more NHRA Nationals left to go to this year. We will start again this Friday with Michael (Ray) and Chaz Kennedy and will be trying to improve their personal bests even more. I’m looking forward to running on Friday at Reading. We always go fast there. We have a lot of good history there, and I’m excited to see how well Chaz does,” Bryce said.

The Sovereign-Star Racing team will compete this coming weekend Oct. 4-6 at the Auto Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

The 2013 Sovereign-Star Racing Team is a partnership between Georgia-based Star Racing and the Hungarian-based Sovereign Racing Team, the 2011 UEM European Pro Stock Bike Championship Team, owned by sugar distributor Jenõ Rujp.

The Sovereign-Star Racing Team would like to thank the following sponsors: Sovereign, Star Racing, Americus Motorsports Complex, S&S Cycle, Daytona Sensors, Worldwide Bearings, CP Pistons, Cometic Gaskets, and Uncle Hal Gottspeed Racing.


Michael Ray



Star Racing Fast Facts:

  • Based in Americus, Georgia
  • Six-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Championships
  • 80 NHRA national event wins with 10 different riders
  • Owned by George & Jackie Bryce

Sovereign Racing Team Fast Facts:

  • Based in Budapest, Hungary
  • 2011 European Championship Team with rider Jesper Thiel
  • Owned by Jenõ Rujp

Michael Ray Fast Facts:

  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
  • Job: Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Salesman
  • Years in racing: 11

Chaz Kennedy Fast Facts:

  • Age: 19 years old
  • From: Ormond Beach, Florida
  • Job: Sovereign-Star Racing crew member
  • Years in drag racing: 3


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