ENGLISHTOWN, NJ – June 9, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Jerry Savoie admitted to being a slow starter throughout the course of his Pro Stock Motorcycle career. That appears to have changed during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the result could spell more success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the site of this weekend’s 47th annual NHRA Summernationals.
Savoie enters as the defending event winner on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki. His win at Raceway Park one year ago got his season going. Savoie had not yet won a round entering the race in 2015, but his start to 2016 has been much more impressive.
Savoie finished as the runner-up at the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle race in Atlanta, giving the Louisiana alligator farmer added confidence he can capture a second straight NHRA Summernationals victory.
“Every year it seems like we usually start off slow and step up,” said Savoie, who is currently fourth in the points standings after three Pro Stock Motorcycle races. “This year we got going a little earlier. We normally never run well in Atlanta, but we’ve been creeping up on the bike and we had a really good weekend. The goal this year is to finish in the top three and if we can make it there I’ll be pretty happy.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the iconic summertime event that for the first time will be televised on FOX Sports 1. It is the fourth of 16 events for the Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors and a year ago it proved to be the first highlight in Savoie’s standout season.
He finished with two more victories following Englishtown and third in points behind Eddie Krawiec and defending world champion Andrew Hines. As satisfying as that was, Savoie wanted a better start to his 2016 campaign and that’s exactly what has happened.
Savoie and his team, led by crew chief Tim Kulungian, focused on a couple of specific aspects and the results have been impressive. He already has five round wins in 2016 – five more than he had at this point one year ago – and qualified fourth in Atlanta before falling to Krawiec in the final round.
“Starting off, my reaction times the last couple years have been a struggle and I’ve been trying to figure out what was going on,” said Savoie, who has four career victories. “It turns out we had an issue with the motorcycle and (in Atlanta) it seemed like maybe we got on the right track with that. With the engine, Tim went with a different set-up and that’s worked really well.
“We ran well a year ago in Englishtown and stumbled onto something. To go faster than any Suzuki had ever gone in the class, that was pretty amazing. We just figured out something and hopefully we can keep it going this year.”
Savoie started to click as the temperature got warmer and the season got busier a year ago, and he’s expecting nothing less than that this season as well.
“I like it when the weather gets warmer and I think Tim has the upper hand on tuning in those conditions,” Savoie said. “When things are clicking, people start pressing against you and make mistakes. When that starts happening, I get even more comfortable.”
But he also has to deal with a deep and talented Pro Stock Motorcycle field led by Krawiec, who has two victories and final round appearances in all three races. Other top riders include Hines, three-time event winner Angelle Sampey, Gatornationals runner-up Hector Arana, two-time champ Matt Smith, veteran rider Steve Johnson, Chip Ellis, Michael Ray Jr. and rookie Melissa Surber.
Savoie, though, feels good about his own improvements and knows his team will continue to push forward in the ultra-competitive class.
“To be honest, at this point in time I feel more comfortable,” Savoie said. “We’ve got a couple things we need to get figured out, but we’re working on it. That’s the whole process of being a race team, you go at it slowly and try to make tweaks, but we’ll be fine. I don’t really get stressed. I’m a very mellow person, and take it day by day and just keep moving forward.”
New Jersey native Brown raced to his first win at Englishtown in Top Fuel last year en route to his second world championship and won the most recent event in Epping. He will be looking to defend his hometown event this year against a tough field, which includes points leader Doug Kalitta, who had won three races in a row before Epping. Other top standouts are Brittany Force, a two-time winner this season, and past NHRA Summernationals winners Richie Crampton, Shawn Langdon, Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence.
In Funny Car, Hagan outlasted Alexis DeJoria in the final round of last year’s event and is currently riding high in 2016 with two wins. DeJoria also has a win this season but everyone is chasing points leader Courtney Force, who won in Houston. Other Funny Car drivers to keep an eye on include two-time winner this season Tim Wilkerson, four-time event winner and 16-time champion John Force, three-time event winner Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps, who raced to his second victory of the year last weekend in Epping, Tommy Johnson Jr. and reigning world champ Del Worsham.
In Pro Stock, Summit Racing Chevy Camaro driver Anderson sprinted past Allen Johnson in the final last year in Englishtown to earn his sixth career victory at Raceway Park. Anderson has four wins this season but is chasing teammate and points leader Jason Line, who has had an unbelievable start to 2016 with five wins and eight final round appearances in the all new Pro Stock class, which features electronic fuel injection, a 10,500 rev-limiter, flattened hoods and shortened wheelie-bars. Competition in the door-slammer category is stiff with drivers like back-to-back world champ Erica Enders, four-time Englishtown winner Jeg Coughlin, rising star Bo Butner, 2015 Rookie of the Year Drew Skillman and tough Texan Chris McGaha.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series returns to Raceway Park for its fourth of 10 races in the 2016 season. The NHRA Summernationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, June 10 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 11, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 12.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA SUMMERNATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 47th annual NHRA Summernationals, the 10th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, N.J. From the North, take N.J. Turnpike South to Exit 9, follow the signs to Rt. 18 South. Go six miles to the Englishtown exit. Take Rt. 527 South five miles. Make a left onto Pension Rd. Go ¼ mile, track entrance on left. From the South, take N.J. Turnpike north to Exit 8 to Route 33 east. Go eight miles to the Englishtown exit. Take Rt. 527 north. Go through Englishtown. Make a right onto Gordons Corner Rd. Go ¼ mile. Make a left onto Pension Rd. Got two miles. Track entrance is on the right.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 60 feet above sea level; Track direction is northeast to southwest
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, 2016
THURSDAY, June 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, June 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:30 p.m.; Round 1 of eliminations at 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 12 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 11, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, June 12, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock, Jerry Savoie, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Kenny Bernstein, 7, (4 FC, 3 TF); Joe Amato, 6, TF; Greg Anderson,6, PS; Larry Dixon, 6, TF; Don Prudhomme, 6, FC; John Force, 4, FC; Jeg Coughlin, 4,PS; Bob Glidden, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 4, PS; John Myers, 4, PSM; Dave Schultz, 4, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.725 sec. by Antron Brown, June ’15; 329.91 mph by Massey, June ’12.
Funny Car – 3.959 sec. by Cruz Pedregon, June ’14; 321.04 mph by Del Worsham, June ’14.
Pro Stock – 6.464 sec. and 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, June ’14.
PS Motorcycle – 6.747 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, June ’14; 199.37 mph by Hector Arana Jr., June ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Doug Kalitta, 785; 2. Antron Brown, 739; 3. Steve Torrence, 658; 4. Brittany Force, 623; 5. Tony Schumacher, 483; 6. Clay Millican, 475; 7. J.R. Todd, 473; 8. Richie Crampton, 450; 9. Shawn Langdon, 399; 10. Leah Pritchett, 360.
1. Courtney Force, 654; 2. Jack Beckman, 639; 3. Ron Capps, 632; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 608; 5. Del Worsham, 558; 6. Matt Hagan, 556; 7. Robert Hight, 545; 8. John Force, 527; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., 503; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 483.
1. Jason Line, 1,026; 2. Greg Anderson, 937; 3. Bo Butner, 680; 4. Allen Johnson, 559; 5. Drew Skillman, 497; 6. Chris McGaha, 459; 7. Vincent Nobile, 405; 8. Alex Laughlin, 381; 9. Erica Enders, 373; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 372.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 353; 2. Andrew Hines, 233; 3. Hector Arana, 207; 4. Jerry Savoie, 204; 5. Chip Ellis, 193; 6. Angelle Sampey, 179; 7. LE Tonglet, 143; 8. Matt Smith, 124; 9. Karen Stoffer, 118; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, 117.