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Star Racing team eager to defend last season's win at Englishtown


AMERICUS, Ga. – As the Star Racing team travels to Englishtown, N.J., for the Toyota NHRA Summernationals race event this weekend May 30 – June 1, these defending event champions hope to repeat their previous 2013 win at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and bring home their 81st “Wally” trophy.

Last season’s Englishtown event marked Star Racing’s first National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national event win since their three-year hiatus from drag racing. It was also the second career win for racer Michael Ray, who went on claim the 2013 Chicago race victory for the team as well.

“When we won at Englishtown last year, I think we surprised everyone by winning. This year, I think they know we are ready to win and just haven’t done it yet. We’ve been qualifying No. 1 and running in the front of the field. When Michael won this event for us last year, Star Racing hadn’t won a Wally since 2008; we had been at 78 wins for too many years. Now that we’re at 80 wins, we’d like to keep adding to that number,” Star Racing co-owner and team crew chief George Bryce said.

Ray, who claimed last year’s Englishtown win after only a few races with the Star Racing team, is excited to see the team’s progression from this point last season to where they are now.

“This was a race last year where we really turned a page as a team, and I think that it showed when we left Englishtown and really got on a roll. You can see that we’ve gone a long way since then. Now, George knows exactly what I’m going to do when I get on that bike, and I have confidence every time I put on that helmet. We have that trust as a team, and you can’t put a price on that. Having that just makes us a little more prepared for anything that comes our way,” Ray said.

Ray’s fellow Star Racing driver and 19-year-old Rookie of the Year contender, Chaz Kennedy, also participated in the team’s winning weekend last season as a crew member working on Ray’s motorcycle.

“It was really exciting to be a part of that win last year and to be able to physically put my hands on the bike that provided that winning combination for Michael to go four rounds and take home the Wally. It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to win. It also gave me great experience to work on a winning bike alongside Ken (Johnson), with him teaching me how to make the bike perfect for every round so that we don’t have any issues. It’s truly a team effort, and we need everyone – the racers, George as the tuner, the crew at the track, and the guys at the shop – to really be a winning combination,” Kennedy said.

It would seem that Ray’s two No. 1 qualifiers this season and the high expectations from being defending Englishtown champions would create added pressure for the Star Racing team to win this event. But, in reality, these factors just make the team more confident in their own abilities to turn on win lights when the time comes.

“Every weekend when you show up, you already have your work cut out for you. That big truck doesn’t leave the shop without the expectation of coming home with a Wally, but I think that winning there last year gives us a better road map to victory lane. We’ve done it; we did it last year in great fashion. We really struggled at this race last year and still got that great win,” Ray said.

For his seventh professional NHRA appearance this weekend, Kennedy hopes that some slight changes to his racing style and starting line procedure will lead to more win lights for him as well.

“Like I said after the last race, Chaz is just about to turn a corner in his racing abilities to start hurting some people’s feelings. He’s cutting his (starting line) lights so close, but everyone knows that once he fixes that he’ll be hard to deal with,” Bryce said.

“At the last race in Atlanta, I was just a little bit early (leaving the starting line). So, I’m really going to focus this weekend on my clutch hand so that we don’t have any more issues there. Once I get that figured out, which won’t take me long, we’re going to get a lot of win lights. If I just cut consistent .020 (second) lights and let it ride, we’ll be very hard to beat,” Kennedy said.

The Star Racing teammates are currently in the top ten overall points standings for the NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Motorcycle class, with Ray at No. 6 and Kennedy tied with Adam Arana for the 10th position.

After two No. 1 qualifiers and his most recent No. 5 qualifying position, Ray is also holding onto the No. 1 spot in the MiraMonte Records NHRA Pro Bike Battle points standings, which awards points based on qualifying positions at each event. Kennedy is currently No. 8 in the Pro Bike Battle prior to this weekend’s event.

“Michael is already at No. 6 in the point standings, which gives us a really good chance after the countdown starts. Of course, we love winning Wally’s, but it would be a shame to win some more Wally’s and then not win the Championship, so that’s still our main goal this season,” Bryce said.

Television coverage for the event begins with qualifying from 4:30 – 6 p.m. (EST) Saturday, May 21 on ESPN and final eliminations from 4 – 7 p.m. (EST) Sunday, June 1 on ESPN2.

The Star Racing Team would like to thank the following sponsors:
  • Star Racing
  • Georgia International Raceway Park
    (formerly the Americus Motorsports Complex)
  • HopUpYourHarley.com
  • Underground Professionals Inc. (UPI)
  • Uncle Hal Gottspeed Racing
  • Jay Warner
  • Arrow M
  • S&S Cycle
  • Daytona Sensors
  • Worldwide Bearings

The HopUpYourHarley.com campaign represents Star Racing’s state-of-the-art upgrade options for Harley-Davidson® and other Big Twin street motorcycles. Star Racing offers a full range of S&S Cycle V-Twin replacement engines for Harley-Davidson® Dyna™, Softail®, and Touring models that deliver huge increases in horsepower and torque. For 2007 and up Harley models, Star Racing has also developed a 107” Thrasher Upgrade Kit that produces 120+ horsepower while maintaining the stock appearance and reliability.




Michael Ray Chaz Kennedy


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

Michael Ray Fast Facts:

  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
  • Job: Harley-Davidson motorcycle salesman
  • Years in racing: 12

Chaz Kennedy Fast Facts:

  • Age: 19 years old
  • From: Ormond Beach, Florida
  • Job: Star Racing crew member
  • Years in drag racing: 4

 

Thanks to ...

Star Racing

Georgia International Raceway Park

HopUpYourHarley.com

Uncle Hal
Gottspeed Racing

Underground Professionals Inc. (UPI)

S&S Cycle

Daytona Sensors

Worldwide Bearings

Arrow M

Jay Warner


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