2017 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Qualifying Results

Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Jerry Savoie earns 10th No. 1 qualifier.

2017 Four-Wide Nationals drag racing results
Defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Jerry Savoie (near lane) sporting new bodywork on his White Alligator Farms Suzuki at the 2017 Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in North Carolina.Photo: Tim Hailey

Defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Jerry Savoie will start the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Concord, North Carolina's zMAX Dragway as the number one qualifier. "I never think anything is perfect, but we got what was out there, mostly," crew chief/tuner Tim Kulungian said about the White Alligator Racing (WAR) team's qualifying performance. This is Savoie's 10th No. 1 qualifier of his career. He goes up against Steve Johnson, LE Tonglet and Scotty Pollacheck in the first round of eliminations.

Jerry Savoie, Suzuki
Savoie launching his Pro Stock Suzuki during Friday qualifying.Photo: NHRA
Erik Buell Racing pro stock motorcycle
Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Chip Ellis qualified the Junior Pippin EBR fourth for NHRA’s Four-Wide Nationals at Concord, North Carolina’s zMAX Dragway. Ellis had a best of 6.852 at 194.69 mph.Photo: Tim Hailey

Eddie Krawiec qualified second on his Screamin' Eagle Vance Hines Harley-Davidson with a 6.835 run at 196.93 and will open eliminations against Shawn Gann, Hector Arana Jr. and Matt Smith. In the No. 3 spot on the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder is Krawiec's teammate Andrew Hines followed by Chip Ellis on the Junior Pippin EBR (Erik Buell Racing) entry. Hines will be trying to make it two straight Four-Wide wins at zMAX.

The third qualifying round saw Savoie’s bike bitten by the curse of new bodywork. His brand new Suzuki TL1000 body was hit by a chunk of something on the track that made his run squirrelly, punched a hole in the body, and slowed his pass.

“If you even miss a shift point by 150 rpm with one of these Suzukis, or if there’s any disturbance in the seat—it just knocks the wind out of it,” said Savoie. “Then in round four we kinda stepped it up a bit and ran with the rest of them. We didn’t improve, but conditions weren’t as good.”

And no one else improved enough to better Savoie’s 6.824 at 196.24 mph from Q2 and knock the Louisiana alligator farmer off of his perch at the top of the field for Sunday’s unique Four-Wide eliminations.

“Tim’s got a good handle on this bike. It’s predictable. When he makes changes, it responds,” said Savoie.

Tim Kulungian, crew chief and tuner
Tim Kulungian, crew chief and tuner for the White Alligator Farms Suzuki and LE Tonglet's Nitrofish Suzuki.Photo: Tim Hailey

The team is trying to get that same level of predictability and performance out of teammate LE Tonglet’s Nitrofish Suzuki. After a motor change to try and solve a persistent clutch problem, Tonglet’s bike broke a gear on the vacuum pump, costing him ET on his final run.

“Having two bikes is definitely a lot of work,” said Kulungian. “Once they both start going fast consistently, maybe we can see a common denominator between the two. But for now, it’s all hands on deck to try and get LE’s bike going fast. It’s gonna take ‘til Englishtown or after to feel like we have something that’s really predictable and reap the benefit of having two motorcycles, up to speed, and going fast. We’re doing everything we can to get LE’s bike as competitive as we can. We’re working diligently.”

Savoie has no doubt about that. “I’ve got one helluva crew chief, and I’ve got a good team too,” said Savoie. “He works his butt off and he loves going fast. If I do a better job, we win races. I’m confident.”

“So far this year we’re doing exceptionally well,” said Kulungian. “We’ve got a few things we have to work on, but overall it’s a pretty competitive program. But this is a tough race. These races are tough. I know Jerry’s wearing the green number one qualifier’s hat tonight, so for me to sit here and say it’s tough—it really is.”

Savoie, Tonglet, Kulungian and the WAR team will show just how tough they are in one of NHRA’s toughest races on Sunday. Jerry and LE will have to race each other in their round 1 foursome, along with Steve Johnson and Scotty Pollacheck. A bummer perhaps, but as Tonglet points out, “Hey, it’s the only race where two guys can advance out of the match-up.”