19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil
23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
November 1-3, 2019
Jerry Savoie Thrives on Calming Feeling Vegas Provides
There’s usually a variety of emotions racing at Las Vegas with a potential NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship on the line. Relaxed is usually not one of them, but that’s precisely how Jerry Savoie feels heading to one of his favorite tracks for this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The former Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion feels perfectly at peace at the high-stakes race in the city of big lights, even if it does serve as the penultimate race in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Savoie has always performed well in Las Vegas on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki and with a pair of playoff wins, the veteran, who is 94 points behind points leader Andrew Hines, plans to once again thrive at the facility.
“I don’t know what kind of feeling other people get when they get to Vegas, but the atmosphere there just relaxes me so much,” said Savoie, who has zero career Vegas wins. “I just get to the track and let it fly. Mentally for me, Vegas is just a great race and I’ve been very lucky there. The bottom line is, the atmosphere there just relaxes me. It’s one of the best places to go and there’s just certain tracks that seem to favor certain riders.”
He didn’t run a full schedule during the season, but he started to build momentum as the regular season came to a close. Savoie won at Indy and then he opened the playoffs with a win, which changed the course of his year. His goal immediately shifted to trying to win another title and his victory in Dallas kept those hopes alive. Back-to-back first-round losses in St. Louis and Charlotte hurt, but rebounding in Dallas ensured that everything is still in play heading to Las Vegas.
“I’m pretty fired up right now and I don’t care who gets in the way, I’m going to try to beat them,” said Savoie, who has 12 career wins. “I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen and we’re just peaking at the right time. Engine-wise, performance-wise, I think we’re in good shape and I think we have what it takes to go out there and be competitive. So hopefully we can continue to do well and keep things interesting down the stretch.”
Savoie knows he’ll need something big to stay close to Hines, who has a remarkable eight wins this season. But Savoie’s teammate, Karen Stoffer, is also within striking distance, sitting 81 points behind Hines. The two longtime standouts have thrived racing on the same team for the first time and it could lead to even more good results to finish the year. Savoie also has to deal with the likes of Eddie Krawiec, Arana Jr. and defending world champ Matt Smith, but he and Stoffer have proven to be a formidable duo at the perfect time.
“We came back and did really well in Dallas, and that was big,” Savoie said. “Mentally and physically, I feel great. I feel like I’ve been blessed in so many ways. Andrew is still far ahead of us, but we still have a chance to win. Karen is a great rider and we have some great people behind us. It’s been a great combination. Karen is very intelligent and very family-oriented and it all just came together really well. We’re just going to keep working on what we have.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 12:45 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3.
ABOUT NHRA – Headquartered in Glendora, CA, is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com