Angelle misses by an eyelash in Columbus. To all those in attendance at Sunday's final eliminations of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, it appeared that Angelle Savoie and the CVEC Suzuki Racing team were headed to their third NHRA POWERade...
Angelle misses by an eyelash in Columbus.
To all those in attendance at Sunday's final eliminations of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, it appeared that Angelle Savoie and the CVEC Suzuki Racing team were headed to their third NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series victory of the season. After qualifying second, Angelle started to work her way through the field.
In the first round, Fred Camarena's red light handed Angelle the easy victory. Even so, the CVEC Suzuki gave notice of its intentions by powering down the Columbus quarter-mile in 7.205 seconds, the quickest of eliminations and one hundredth of a second quicker than their qualifying effort.
Angelle's second-round victory over Geno Scali came as the result of an equally strong 7.206-second pass, which once again paced Pro Stock Bike. This set the stage for a semi-final encounter with Antron Brown, marking the third consecutive race these two would meet.
But all was not right with the CVEC Suzuki. From the start of day, the Star Racing team had been fighting an unusual mechanical problem. The combination of a sick engine and a non-functioning vacuum pump was robbing top end performance, as evidenced by the diminishing top speed. This forced team owner George Bryce to make adjustments to compensate. With a fresh motor waiting in the wings for the final, Bryce had special instructions for the two-time champion.
"I told Angelle to pretend that the bike was going to be slow, and that she would have to win on grit and determination," said Bryce. "I told her not to leave anything on the table, and if it blew up, to find a way to turn on the win light anyway."
Faced with this challenge, Angelle knew she would need a near-perfect reaction time to gain the advantage on Brown, who is also one of the best leavers in the category. Unfortunately, she left the starting line one thousandth of a second early, awarding the win to her rival and negating a solid 7.219 second pass.
"I was expecting a .405 light from Antron, because that's usually what he does," explained Savoie. "I wish I had checked his times from today before we ran, because I just noticed that they weren't that good. He must have had something on his mind, or had a problem with the bike.
"However, I did do something in the semis that I don't normally do, and now know not to do again. I relaxed the hand I hold the clutch with because the more relaxed your hand is, the better your reaction time. Basically a contracted muscle releases slower than a relaxed muscle, and I relaxed my hand way too much. It's a practice I did early in my career when I would go red all the time, and I had changed to a normal grasp a long time ago.
"I guess I was thinking that I hadn't red-lit in a long time, and my lights are not usually in the .400 range, and we were thinking the engine was hurt, so I pushed the tree really hard. I guess I was due for a red light - maybe it will be out of my way now.
"The bottom line is that I just wasn't meant to win today. In one way or another, we had been fighting problems, and we were a little lucky to get as far as we did. If we can keep going to the semis or better at every race, we will be just fine."
- Throughout her career, Angelle has raced six times in Columbus, compiling an impressive 15-4 eliminations record.
- In her six races at National Trail Raceway, Angelle has scored two wins (2000 and 2001) and four semi-final appearances.
- After six of 14 Pro Stock Motorcycle national events, Angelle leads the NHRA POWERade Series points standings with 585 points, 36 better than second place Craig Treble. - - Angelle has not suffered a first-round setback since August 22, 1999 at Brainerd, Minn. That span of 39 races represents the longest streak in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing, and is two short of the all-time record currently held by Bob Glidden.
- Angelle has qualified in the top half of the elimination ladder (eighth or better) at every one of the 82 races in which she has competed in her Pro Stock Motorcycle career.
- Angelle has won 21 of her last 51 national event starts, has appeared in 28 final rounds and owns a 132-31 (.810) elimination round win record during that span. In that same period, she has also recorded 22 low qualifier efforts.