Pomona 2: Savoie looks to repeat championship

POMONA Calif. - Entering her fifth year of competition, Angelle Savoie continues to make her mark on the annals of NHRA history. Her 17 career wins places her in the top five all-time in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Her 2000 Winston ...

POMONA Calif. - Entering her fifth year of competition, Angelle Savoie continues to make her mark on the annals of NHRA history.

Her 17 career wins places her in the top five all-time in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Her 2000 Winston championship made her, and legendary Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney, the only two females to ever win a Winston championship in a professional category. Her career win total is one behind Muldowney's professional mark for victories by a female. She has never qualified lower than sixth in her career and her .745 winning percentage ranks fifth among all active NHRA competitors with 50 or more decisions. The rest of the two-wheel competitors know this 5'3" registered nurse isn't even close to being done.

Savoie, from New Orleans, will continue her celebrated career when nighttime drag racing returns to Southern California for the first time in more than 20 years with the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels, July 5-7, at historic Pomona Raceway. The $2 million race, which will be televised by ESPN2, is the 13th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 2001.

Early in her career, Savoie focused on the Winston standings with astute attention. In 1999, it cost her the championship to Matt Hines in the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway. She entered that event with a 14-point lead, and watched as Hines captured his third straight series title by an eight-point margin..

"I'm not as worried about the points situation right now as in years past, and that's a good thing," said the recently married 30-year-old rider. "My new goal is to beat Shirley for the most wins by a female in NHRA history competition. At first I really didn't care about that mark, I actually thought it was stupid. But because of what Shirley means to drag racing, I'd like to be the one to take a shot at it. I'm going to focus on that because it takes my mind off the points situation. There's still a lot of rounds left this season and I want to just focus on getting wins instead of where I am in points. If you let yourself think about points, it's so easy to lose it. I know from experience."

The competition among riders continues to tighten. Through the first six motorcycle races of 2001, Savoie, Hines, and Antron Brown have each won two events. Entering the St. Louis event, Brown led the standings, five ahead of Savoie, and 24 ahead of third-place Hines. Every round will become vital as these 190-mph bullets race towards the Winston crown. The rider that's able to capitalize on the other's mistake will be able to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

"We really do have an advantage with that new cylinder head," said Savoie. "It's awesome. I had no idea the engine would be that great. We call our current engine Jesse, after (WWF wrestler) Jesse Ventura, and we have another one called 'The Rock', and it is supposed to be better than the one we have now. I know over the past couple of races, (crew chief) George (Bryce) had his feelings hurt because people were talking like he couldn't do it any more. He got mad, and that's what it takes. When Team Winston gets mad, and their faces turn red, we usually end up in the winner's circle."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Antron Brown , Matt Hines