story and photos by Tim Hailey
After failing to make the field last time out at Norwalk, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champ LE Tonglet stormed back with a vengeance—winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals this weekend just south of Chicago. Tonglet faced Chip Ellis in the final, who a few years ago made final rounds a near weekly habit. This time around Tonglet took the tree but Chip’s Buell out-60 footed LE’s Suzuki, which then drove around for the win.
Tonglet started the day qualified third and took out Angie Mcbride-Smith, David Hope and Matt Smith on his way to the final. Ellis, qualified fourth just behind Tonglet, remained lossless against Mike Berry, 5-1 against Eddie Krawiec and now 1-0 against Jim Underdahl. While Tonglet is back from just a one race absence, Ellis—with the help of Harry Lartigue and Vance & Hines—is back in contention from too long an absence of a steady, competitive ride.
Arana Jr. again on top at Route 66
The combination of baby-faced Hector Arana Jr. and the Lucas Oil Buell is working well in qualifying, as the rookie rider took his second straight NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle #1 qualifying position, this time at Route 66 Raceway just south of Chicago. H2 ran 6.950 at 191.65, placing him ahead of Karen Stoffer’s 6.979 and LE Tonglet’s 6.980. It was a great comeback perfomance for class champion Tonglet, who failed to make the field last time out in Norwalk. LE’s brother GT brings up the rear of the field, while this week’s not qualified surprise is Mike Phillips. Mike’s bike wouldn’t shift and he got all Rickey Gadson on it, reaching down with his left hand to shift. A game effort, but no go. Craig Treble also missed the cut.
Chip Ellis is fourth with a 6.986, while Kwick Eddie Krawiec is best placed Harley with a 6.988 in fifth. His teammate Andrew Hines is way down in 11th with a 7.029, just behind Jerry Savoie’s 7.020. In between them and Krawiec lay Hector Sr, Matt Smith and David Hope (below) in sixth. What a great session for Hope and his bike owner John Hammock.