SAVOIE KEEPS BITING BACK IN POINTS LEAD
Jerry Savoie has only led the points once before his most recent ascension to the top. And, did he ever make the most of the opportunity.
“Last time I was ahead in the points was when we won by one point,” Savoie said with a smile.
For one day, Savoie was the king of the hill.
“That’s it,” Savoie said.
Savoie finds himself as the provisional king of the hill with five more races left in the season; a kingdom, he said, no one saw coming.
“I tell you, man, I mean nobody seen it coming,” Savoie said. “I missed three races, and I wasn’t counting on making the Top 10. I wasn’t going to go to Reading. John Hall was going to ride my bike. So we went to Sonoma and did fair, and then we went to Indy and moved up to number five and then moved up to number one on this trip here.
“Steve Johnson did a lot of that help because he’s not in the points and he knocked out Matt, and he knocked out Junior. And the Harley’s went out, so that was a big jump for us, you know.”
With his big win at Indy and follow-up in Reading, Savoie knows the competition will be looking at the water’s edge for the alligator lurking just underneath the water.
“It was real funny because somebody in the NHRA posted on Facebook early part of last week, week before, and was talking about top contenders Andrew Hines and Matt Smith,” Savoie explained. “And I commented, I said, ‘Be careful, there’s an alligator lurking somewhere.”
“Angie Smith commented. She was laughing about it. But I told them, I said, ‘Be careful, there’s an alligator out there lurking somewhere.”
For Savoie, the breaks keep rolling his way, and he’s going to ride the wave for as long as it keeps moving him forward.
“We’ve got five races left, and it’s anybody’s game,” Savoie counseled. “You know, if you think about the season for me, myself, man I went to the finals in Atlanta, and Andrew ran me down. Then we had a good race in Charlotte, and where else did I race we did well? But anyway, I haven’t done badly, but I missed those three races, and by dropping out, everybody’s like, ‘Well you all been sandbagging.’ This and that.”
“It’s not true. Everybody knows we had crankshaft problems last year. I told everybody. With Byron and Eddie and guys at the shop got together and it was a struggle, man. It seems like it’s got it fixed. We haven’t hurt a crank in a while, and we’re making good power now. We still can’t run the back numbers that Matt and them are running, but, you know, we’ve got a total package.
“They’re [Buell] making more power than we are. They’re complaining about us getting a four-valve, but the bottom line is if we get a four-valve and we go faster, then they can put some weight on everybody, and you can get more interest in the Suzuki market and get more riders to come out that weigh 170 pounds. But the way it is now, these riders can’t compete at this level, they’re too heavy.”
As Savoie sees it, the struggle is real keeping on the south side of 150 pounds.
It’s not so much of a struggle to steer clear of the war of words flying between some of the Buell teams and every other combination in the class.
“If you notice something about our team, you don’t ever hear us commenting or talking about any of that bulls***,” Savoie said. “I stay in my trailer. You don’t ever see me walking around the pits. We stay to ourself, and we focus on our own program. If most people would focus on their own program, they’d probably be a lot better off. I don’t mean that no particular team directly, but the bottom line is we focus on ourselves, and I think it shows.”
But talk against the proposed Suzuki four-valve, and the gator will bite.
“You know, what really gets my ass is they’ve [Buell] got an engine that was never in a production motorcycle,” Savoie said. “So they build a brand new engine. They had a body, well that wasn’t good enough. They come out with another body; the d*** bike ain’t never went into production. And you want to complain about giving Suzuki’s a four-valve? Kiss my ass, man. That’s bull***.
Yeah, he’s riled up.
“I mean they’re the ones complaining mostly,” Savoie continued. “And the bottom line is they’ve got a body that didn’t even exist, and they were already outrunning us 199, 200 miles per hour. What NHRA does is gives them another body. So don’t tell me about getting a four-valve head. I think it will be good for the class because you get more riders interested in coming out is just the way I see it.”
As Savoie sees it, Vance & Hines provides his team with competitive horsepower, and regardless of what concessions NHRA might give the Harley-Davidson combination, he’s 100-percent in support because it’s an honest-to-goodness production bike.
“If Harley-Davidson comes out with a new body, every year, a new motorcycle, production bike, and I’m not taking up for the Harley’s, but this is how the rules are written,” Savoie explained. “If they come out with a brand new production bike every year, don’t you think it’s fair with the kind of money that they spend out there, that they could get a new body if they wanted to once a year?
“Now, whether they come out with it or not come out with it at the end of the season, beginning of the season, you know I’m not the judge of that. That might be something they can work on. But the bottom line is if I was a factory and I built a new Chevrolet car every year, and I wanted to run that body in a Pro Stock car, I should be able to produce that body to replicate that car and run it. So I don’t think it’s a big deal myself really. I mean the bike’s in production. What are you gonna gripe about?”
Make no bones about it, if Savoie wanted to race a Harley-Davidson he’d be on one today.
“I’m going to tell you something. I’ve been offered to buy two of them,” Savoie admitted. “They had a couple of inquiries. They asked me, when we were struggling with the Suzuki, said, ‘Why don’t you just let me build you two Harleys?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m a Suzuki guy, and this is where I’m at.”
“So I stuck it out. But in the past, probably so. That was the truth. But now, it’s not so true anymore. If I wanted one, I could have them.”
Savoie believes having the Harley-Davidsons in Pro Stock Motorcycle makes the class better.
“I’m gonna tell you if it wouldn’t be for the Harleys, the class would probably go to crap because that makes competition, it makes it interesting,” Savoie said. “You’ve got a lot of Harley supporters out there. I probably wouldn’t be as excited when I win a race. Because let me tell you, when you beat those boys, you’re going to put in a day’s work. They’re invincible.”
Putting professional motorcycle drag racing aside, Savoie isn’t certain how much he wants to drag race.
“Number one, I don’t like traveling. Number two, I don’t like hotels,” Savoie explained. “I love racing, and I love competition, and I love winning, and losing is a part of winning. That’s why it’s so good when you win. But I mean I’m 60 years old, I’ll be 61 in February. Could I still ride a few more years? Probably so. But I’ve got other things in life that I want to do, and my wife has sacrificed a lot in the last almost ten years now.
“I just want to stay home more, and go to Mexico, raise cattle, and run the alligator farm and just do the things around the house. I’m not saying I’m going to disband the team, I will keep the truck out there, and Tim and I would work something out to where he buys me out, or we keep it together, and he gets a salary and rent and release a couple of bikes, win a few races and stuff.
“I might pop in and out once or twice a year or something just to have a little fun, but I want to kind of step back. This is not something that I have to do for a living. This is something that I love to do.”
And maybe he will keep the point lead for longer than one day this time.