Tonglet and Savoie team for two-bike effort in 2017
by NHRA National Dragster staff
LE Tonglet, the 2010 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, will race as a teammate to White Alligator Racing’s Jerry Savoie as part of a two-bike effort in 2017. Tonglet’s bike will carry the familiar colors of Kenny Koretsky’s Nitro Fish brand, and both Suzuki entries will be powered by engines from Vance & Hines.
“I could not be more excited to be racing with Jerry and [crew chief] Tim Kulungian next year,” said Tonglet, who spends his weekdays as a professional firefighter in his hometown of Metairie, La. “They have built an incredible, competitive program and I can’t wait to be a part of it. Ever since I started racing, it has been mostly me, and my brother [GT], and our dad [Gary]. We haven’t had the resources or the manpower that some of the other teams have. Now, we’re going to have two bikes, which we’ll have twice the data, which should help both of us.”
Savoie is a successful alligator farmer who has spent the last six years building a winning Pro Stock Motorcycle program. In 83 career races, Savoie has reached the final round 17 times and recorded five wins. This season, he has been to five finals and recorded a victory at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. When the opportunity arose to have former champion and fellow Cajun Tonglet join his team, it was too good to pass up. Savoie hails from Cut Off, La., not far from Tonglet’s hometown of Metairie.
“It’s no secret that we’ve been looking to add a second bike to our team,” Savoie said. “We’ve explored some options in the past, but we felt that LE was the best choice. He’s young and talented, but more importantly, he’s a genuinely good person who comes from a good family. I raced with his father, Gary, 30 years ago, and I can tell you that they are the type of people you want on your team. This is also a good deal for Tim. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the most talented crew chief out here, and he’s worked hard to build a winning program, but when you have one bike, it’s hard to compete with the multi-bike teams. Now, we’ll have the same data that they do.”
“I’m really excited to have LE Tonglet race alongside Jerry Savoie next season,” added Koretsky. “When LE won the championship in 2010, that was a special moment that I’ll never forget. Now, I believe he is in a great position to win another title. If you look at Jerry’s operation, everything is first class. He’s built an incredible team, and we’re grateful to be a part of it.”
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE’S JERRY SAVOIE BACK IN CHAMPIONSHIP MIX APPROACHING NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS – Jerry Savoie heads to this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in nearly an identical situation as he was in a year ago. The Pro Stock Motorcycle standout trails Eddie Krawiec by just 49 points, putting him in world championship contention for the second straight season.
The goal now is to do what he just missed out on a year ago and the most recent race in Dallas, and that is get a win on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki. He was the runner-up at both aforementioned events, falling to Krawiec in Dallas, and Savoie knows that wins are needed to earn his first NHRA Mello Drag Racing Series world title.
“We’re excited and we’re fortunate to be in this position,” said Savoie, who has five career wins. “We would be a lot more excited if we had won in Dallas, but I have to give a lot of the credit to the crew and (crew chief) Tim (Kulungian). I feel really bad about Dallas and didn’t do what I wanted to do in the final. But we’re excited about Vegas and we think we got it corrected. I know I’ve got a great crew and one fast motorcycle.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1 this October. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the fifth of sixth races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and the penultimate race of 2016.
Getting a Vegas victory would put Savoie in prime position to compete for a world championship against the likes of Krawiec and reigning world champion Andrew Hines, who is 17 points back of Krawiec, at the season finale in Pomona. But despite the pressure of the moment, Savoie, who earned a Countdown to the Championship win in St. Louis, is simply excited to be in the championship mix for two straight years.
“For me, I just love the heads-up competition and I love to get out there and compete against my friends,” Savoie said. “To do something you dream of doing and to accomplish that dream, that’s a big goal on my life. Everything else here is just icing on the cake. There’s a lot of really good riders and some really fast motorcycles, and you need to have a great team to get through this field. You can’t look past anybody.”
Along with the St. Louis victory, Savoie also has four final round appearances in 2016, giving him confidence heading into this weekend’s critical event. But Savoie knows if he meets up with Hines and Krawiec he has to take care of business to remain in championship contention.
He lost to Hines in last year’s final round in Vegas and to Krawiec in Dallas after a poor reaction time led to Krawiec’s holeshot victory. Savoie, who had posted excellent reaction times all weekend in Dallas before the final, believes he has corrected the final-round mishap, which could put him in prime position for the NHRA Toyota Nationals.
“We always run well in Vegas and I think we can win this one,” Savoie said. “If we meet up with Andrew and Eddie, I have to do my job. I feel pretty confident about what we can do. I have no doubts in my bike and my team, and Vegas is an exceptionally run track. It’s a great place with great fans and a great atmosphere, and it really brings out the best in you. This is definitely one of my favorite facilities.”