Las Vegas II: Savoie can clinch third straight Bike championship

LAS VEGAS - Angelle Savoie's 2002 season has been turbulent to say the least. Despite being the defending NHRA Pro Stock Bike champion, the 32-year-old New Orleans resident has had to deal with her share of unexpected difficulties throughout the...

LAS VEGAS - Angelle Savoie's 2002 season has been turbulent to say the least. Despite being the defending NHRA Pro Stock Bike champion, the 32-year-old New Orleans resident has had to deal with her share of unexpected difficulties throughout the season. It's been a rough few months lately, but her record-setting title run can help put the season in perspective.

Savoie will try and become the second female in NHRA history to win three championships when she competes at the second annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Oct. 24-27, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The $2 million race is the 22nd of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

With 12 of 14 Pro Stock Bike races completed, Savoie enters Las Vegas with a 173-point lead in the POWERade standings over her closest competitor, Craig Treble. If she leaves Las Vegas ahead of Treble by 139 points or more, it's over. Savoie will have earned her third consecutive Pro Stock Bike championship, tying her with Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney for the most series championships earned by a female competitor.

"It's always an honor to be listed among the best in your sport, and tying Shirley with three championships is no exception," said Savoie, who has 27 career victories. "I learned a lot about Shirley when I was chasing her for the most wins (by a female, 18), and I know the place she holds in drag racing history. At first, it was incredible just to be mentioned alongside her. Now to be able to equal or top some of her milestones means even more."

Savoie's performance in 2002 has been nothing less than dominant. She has amassed a 36-7 record during eliminations, upping her career won-loss record in eliminations to 215-61 for a .779 winning percentage. She has five wins in seven final round appearances and has not lost in the first round since 1999 at Brainerd, Minn., an NHRA-record 45 straight events. Despite the success, Savoie's 2002 season has been marred by the acquisition and then the abrupt loss of a title sponsor, and accusations about her performance from several other Pro Stock Bike competitors.

"From starting out without a sponsor to fending off allegations made by our competitors to searching for another sponsor in the middle of the year, the fact that we were able to maintain our performance on the track tells you something about what this Star Racing team is made of," said Savoie. "(I'll) really (be) happy to win our third consecutive championship together, as a team. With all their success and championships in the past, Star Racing had never even won two in a row, so to be able to do it three times is incredible."

Savoie could become the ninth NHRA racer to win three consecutive professional titles and would join rival Matt Hines as the only riders to do it in the two-wheel category.

"(A) third consecutive championship also will tie me with Matt," said Savoie. "Up until this year, he was the only one to win three years in a row, so it's awesome to match him."

Prior to the Reading, Pa., race, Savoie and team-owner George Bryce announced a new financial backer for the remainder of the 2002 season. Mohegan Sun, a gaming resort located in Connecticut, joined Star Racing creating the Mohegan Sun Suzuki for the final three Pro Stock Bike events this season and possibly longer.

"It's funny to be talking about a new sponsor so late in the year, but Las Vegas will only be our second race with the Mohegan Sun colors," said Savoie. "The sponsorship has worked well so far. They (came) on board for the last three races, and we're talking about extending the relationship into the future. I think it is a partnership that could be very productive and fun for all involved."

As Savoie nears the end of what can be described as a tumultuous season, the Louisiana native may never get her wish to be looked upon as one of the boys, but she'll be satisfied to know she made a difference.

"Being in the limelight makes you look at yourself pretty often, and I try to be my toughest critic," said Savoie. "On the track, I'd like to be remembered simply as a racer and a tough competitor. But more importantly, I'd like to be known for making a difference, whether to one person or to 100,000 people. That is why I take my responsibility as a role model so seriously and spend as much time as I can with the kids who come out to see us race. If I can help give them a direction in their lives, I'll be happy. Finally, even though this may come after my racing days are over, I'd like to be known as a mother, and not just to (Savoie's Capuchin monkey) Andy."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Craig Treble , George Bryce