2016 Pro Stock Motorcycle Season and World Championship Wrap-Up

Victory gets its first win at the Pomona Finals and a Suzuki rider is crowned the new World Champion.

2016 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle World Champion Jerry Savoie
Jerry Savoie earned his first career world championship after he advanced to the semifinals while his nearest contenders, Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines, were knocked out in the quarterfinals. Savoie, rider of the White Alligator Racing Suzuki, never led the points standings until he secured the title.Photo: NHRA

Suzuki rider Jerry Savoie beat the odds this past weekend at the Auto Club NHRA Finals and came out on top of the points race to become the new Pro Stock Motorcycle World Champion for the 2016 season. The final race also saw the Victory Racing Gunner piloted by Matt Smith in the winner's circle for the first time.

Suzuki rider Jerry Savoie celebrating his first-ever Pro Stock Motorcycle World Championship.
Suzuki rider Jerry Savoie celebrating his first-ever Pro Stock Motorcycle World Championship.Photo: NHRA

It was a dominating season for Harley-Davidson, lead by Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines of the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines team. In fact, the two teammates were tied for the points lead going into the last race of the year. But it was underdog Savoie who captured his first Pro Stock Motorcycle world title on Sunday.

Hines vs. Krawiec at Denver
Hines and Krawiec, seen here in a final-round match-up earlier this year at Denver, were tied for the lead going into the Auto Club Finals. Both were eliminated in the second round, ending Harley-Davidson's chance for the 2016 championship.Photo: NHRA

Savoie, the rider of the White Alligator Farms Suzuki, had two victories late in the season, finished runner-up four times, and then secured the number one qualifying spot at the final three races. Some might call it a classic underdog come-from-behind story, but according to Savoie, that’s not the case.

NHRA Rookie of the Year Cory Reed
Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Cory Reed, seen here at the US Nationals in Indy, was named the winner of the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year.Photo: NHRA

When asked if he felt like an underdog, Savoie said, “No, not really. I’ll reiterate this. In Atlanta we seized a piston against Eddie [Kraweic]. That’s pretty much why we lost the race. We had him covered. Then the win got us in Englishtown and had to get out of it against a hometown fellow racer, Angelle [Sampey]. Just little odds and ends of not good things – we call them gremlins in Louisiana. But it paid off, man! Look at where we’re at. It’s amazing!"

And it was an equally amazing race day for Victory Motorcycles racer Matt Smith. Smith rode to an 8.044 at 117.34 on his Victory Gunner to beat Angelle Sampey, who left the line early to red-light on her Buell in the final. Smith claimed his first win since 2013 with the performance. The victory moved him to sixth in the points standings.

Matt Smith Victory Gunner
“We’ve had a fast bike but we’ve had a lot of electrical problems and transmission issues. We finally solved that about four races ago and it was good for us to run as good as we have," said Auto Club Finals winner Matt Smith.Photo: NHRA

“We haven’t had the best season in the world,” said Smith, who claimed his second Finals victory. “We’ve had a fast bike, but we’ve had a lot of electrical problems and transmission issues. We finally solved that about four races ago, and it was good for us to run as good as we have. It struggled in qualifying, but it came around today. To give Victory their first win is huge. I’m so glad I was able to get it done for them. We have big plans for next year, and hopefully you’ll see us a lot more next year.”

Matt Smith Wally
Smith raises the Wally for the first time in 2016.Photo: NHRA

Smith had a hand in Savoie’s championship run in round 2 of eliminations when he lined his Victory Gunner up against Krawiec’s Harley-Davidson. Smith launched hard with a holeshot .029 reaction time to Krawiec’s .063. Krawiec’s quicker ET of 6.871 seconds was not enough to overtake Smith’s 6.904 -second run, and a mere five inches separated the two at the big end. Krawiec’s loss to Smith cost him the 2016 Championship. Smith went on to holeshot Hector Arana Jr. in round 3 before earning the final-round appearance and win against Sampey.

Final Pro Stock Motorcycle Points Standings For 2016
1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki (2,595)
2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson (2,571)
3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson (2,564)
4. Angelle Sampey, Buell (2,495)
5. Chip Ellis, Buell (2,415)
6. Matt Smith, Victory (2,389)
7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki (2,372)
8. Hector Arana Jr., Buell (2,315)
9. Cory Reed, Buell (2,312)
10. Hector Arana, Buell (2,279)