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Jerry Savoie back in championship form at NHRA Sonoma Nationals

2016 world champion Jerry Savoie looks like his old self at NHRA Sonoma Nationals
28 Jul 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Feature
Jerry Savoie

Jerry Savoie's crocodile grin conceals ferocious ability. The 2016 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion won because of two reasons: His incredibile riding ability and the tuning prowess of Tim Kulungian. He looked, for all the world, like a contender again in 2017 alongside riding partner LE Tonglet. 

That was not the case in 2018 when tired motors hurt the team's chances. Savoie took a step back in 2019, racing a reduced schedule and refocusing himself. He reached the pinnacle in 2016 and ever since said he did what he needed to do. He's out here to help others reach their goals and have a good time. 

It's hard to keep your eyes off the White Alligator Racing team right now. Savoie returned to competition a few races ago and since then has been an outright star in the category. Karen Stoffer, who is aboard the other Suzuki (the one that took helped take home the Wally in Sonoma in 2018, in fact) and is one of the best riders in the class. Together, with fewer runs put on the motors, they are a threat to win every weekend. 

"We were doing a lot of testing and whatnot and we finally, after another year, have our engines in a good place," said Savoie. "Vance & Hines put in a ton of work on these motors back at the shop to solve some of the issues we had and it has been a blessing that we've been able to make a little more power. We're still a little down on the dyno by about five horsepower. I think at this race here the Harley-Davidson team is just missing it a little and I've done a good job riding the motorcycle."

Savoie is averaging a 6.885-second elapsed time over the last six races on tour, paired with a .027-second reaction time. The latter is the second best on the circuit. His teammate leads the category over the last six races (.019). That makes them a threat to win Sunday, especially with one of the savviest crew chiefs in the pits. 

He's planning on running the rest of the season, which should concern everyone else in the category. Savoie will not be a favorite to win the championship, but if his bike keeps up this torrid pace... well, look out. 

It raised eyebrows when Stoffer joined White Alligator Racing, but it probably shouldn't have. She's been a spectacular rider her entire career, just like the rider she replaced, but has not always been blessed by great equipment. That's the way it goes in motorsports at times. She's taking advantage of her opportunity, though Kulungian took a moment to apologize for her motorcycle during qualifying on Saturday (it should be noted it's tough to discern when the sarcastic crew chief is joking). 

"She's done a really good job and I think she's going to be back out here next year," Savoie said. "We're working on some things right now and on something to try to get another rider out here."

Stoffer is racing for a championship. She is not a favorite, but she at least has an opportunity to chase one in 2019 while mentoring rookie rider Jianna Salinas. She's doing that alongside a former champion in Savoie, who looks very capable of winning in Sonoma from the No. 2 qualifier position. White Alligator Racing was a premier team in Pro Stock Motorcycle just a calendar year ago -- perhaps this is a reminder that it still is.