Savoie hoping Phoenix heat will be the great equalizer
CHANDLER , Ariz. (Oct. 13) – As he prepares to head west for the last three races of the 2011 season including this weekend's Arizona Nationals, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Jerry Savoie has a spring in his step following several strong performances aboard his White Alligator Racing Suzuki. In his last four events, including his runner-up finish at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Savoie has added seven round wins to his total and now boasts a very respectable 14-13 record for the season.
The late-season surge has allowed Savoie to move up to seventh in the Full Throttle standings and with another solid performance this weekend, he could easily improve by one or two spots. Although Firebird Raceway has been host to an NHRA event for more than a quarter-century, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class will be making its first appearance at the historic facility, which should help to level the playing field for all competitors.
"Fans have already been telling me that they're really excited because they've never seen a Pro Stock Motorcycle go down the track here," said Savoie. "It'll be a tuner's challenge because nobody really has any data on this race track. Thankfully, I have Mark [Peiser, crew chief] on my side and he's been around a long time. He's very good at making adjustments and adapting to things like weather and track conditions. I have to say I like our chances as much as anyone this weekend."
The weather in Phoenix is expected to top 100 degrees for much of the weekend, conditions that could work to the advantage of the high-winding four-cylinder Suzuki engines that Savoie uses in his White Alligator Suzuki rather than the V-twin combination favored by many of his opponents.
"The weather could be a great equalizer this weekend," said Peiser. "It’s supposed to be very hot which would be similar to the conditions we had last month in Dallas. We went to the semifinals at that race, and I’m thinking we could do even better this time.
"This is bike country," he continued. "It's pretty exciting to be able to come out here and race for these fans."
Savoie also got some good, if not unexpected, news this week as he was named one of nine finalists for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, which honors NHRA's top first year racer. Of the nine finalists, only Savoie, fellow bike racer Hector Arana Jr. and first-year Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile qualified for NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoffs. While Arana and Nobile have each won two events, Savoie remains optimistic that he can score some votes with the members of the media who annually select the winner.
"I tell you, I'd be sincerely honored to be considered," said Savoie. "It's a big deal to be 52 years old and come out here and do what we've done. I've worked all my life and waited all these years. But I had a dream to fulfill, and finally, here I am. When I look at how far we've come, I know that anything is possible."