By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. — After scoring his first ever career Pro Stock Motorcycle a few weeks ago at Sonoma, the momentum just keeps on rolling for Reed Motorsports’ and the Joey Gladstone motorcycle team.
For the time in 25 years since 1997, the Pro Stock Motorcycle rolled into Heartland Motorsports Park on a hot and steamy weekend with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, which made for tricky track conditions on Saturday afternoon.
On Friday night, Gladstone made a pass of 6.882 and 195.14 mph that originally put him on the top of the board. While that run was good enough to be on top of the other 13 riders, the riders knew Saturday was going to be a challenge and that times and mph speed could change.
In the heat of the afternoon at 2 p.m./ local time, the temperature was 95 degrees for the start of the second qualifying session. Gladstone raced Angelle Sampey in the second round of qualifying and bettered his ET and mph speed of 6.848 and 196.24 mph. The run of Gladstone made his pass the fastest for the round. During his run with Sampey, she had to shut off the bike right away. There were some other notable shakeups in this round, as Angie Smith improved from seventh to third with a run of 6.935 and 194.60 mph.
Heading into the final round of qualifying, Gladstone had already earned six bonus points for his efforts and was seeking another three points to be the No. 1 qualifier. In the final run, he again made the quickest pass in the round with 6.878 and 197.10 mph, giving him his first No. 1 qualifier of his career in just 69 career starts.
By earning his No. 1 qualifier on Saturday, Gladstone is hoping to ride this wave throughout the rest of the season.
“I hope this wave never crashes,” Gladstone said. “I’m enjoying this ride while it lasts and I’m so happy. I’ve been waiting my whole life for moments like this and I can’t say enough about my team and how much fun we’re having. They’re so great and I’m so thankful for all they do and allowing us to come out here.”
Additionally, Gladstone feels like he can perform in the Countdown and be a threat in the championship.
“I think we have all the momentum on our side right now,” Gladstone added. “If we just stick to our guns and don’t change our strategy, then I think we can be a force to be reckoned with in the later races (of the Countdown), even when it cools down. Right now, we have a recipe that seems to be working and we’re not going to change anything. We’re going to keep on keeping on and if the cards fall the right way, we’ll take it all.”
Only two drivers who are active in today’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class qualified for Sunday’s race. 1997 winner Angelle Sampey qualified second with a time of 6.882 at 195.14, while Steve Johnson who also raced here in ’97 qualified sixth with a pass of 6.935. Eddie Krawiec retook third going 6.913 and 194.16 mph.
Rounding the top five were Angie Smith in fourth and LE Tonglet in fifth.
With being No. 1 in all three rounds of qualifying, Gladstone earned nine additional points heading into Sunday’s race.
First-round matchups are slated below. 1. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.831, 195.08 vs. 14. David Barron, EBR, broke; 2. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.882, 195.14 vs. 13. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 7.080, 187.91; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.913, 194.16 vs. 12. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.060, 191.21; 4. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.926, 197.28 vs. 11. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.001, 191.35; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.927, 194.88 vs. 10. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.997, 191.59; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.935, 194.60 vs. 9. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.995, 196.59; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.946, 194.24 vs. 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.962, 194.44.
Final eliminations are slated for 10:30 a.m./local time live on NHRA TV and later taped delayed on Fox Sports 1.
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