NORWALK, Ohio – LE Tonglet knew that teaming up with reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Jerry Savoie would pay off at some point during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. But the 2010 world champ didn’t expect it would come quite this quick.
Tonglet won back-to-back races on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki earlier this season and watched Savoie win the most recent PSM race in Englishtown, meaning the team has won three of the four races in the class. It’s an impressive start and one Tonglet hopes to keep going at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
“I knew we could win races and be very fast, but I didn’t think it would happen this early,” said Tonglet, who has 12 career wins. “I thought about midway through the season is where we would start doing well. For it to come this early it’s awesome. It builds a lot of confidence on the team. I’ve been extremely satisfied and the whole team is just doing a great job.”
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including final eliminations coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 25. It is the fifth of 16 races during the 2017 Pro Stock Motorcycle season and Tonglet has positioned himself for a run at a second career world championship.
He posted wins in Charlotte and Atlanta, and sits just two points back of leader Eddie Krawiec. Tonglet has praised the job crew chief Tim Kulungian has done on both his and Savoie’s bike. Savoie has two No. 1 qualifiers to go along with the victory, while Tonglet posted the quickest qualifying run in Englishtown.
“Tim has been great and the hard work has come from everybody,” Tonglet said. “We tested a few times leading up to this year and it just shows what hard work can do. It gives you a lot more confidence. The best thing we can do is be No. 1 and No. 2 entering the (Mello Yello) Countdown to the Championship. That’s going to be our goal. Having both bikes up at the top would be a very big statement, and it should be a fun Countdown season.”
Of course, Tonglet wants to head into the NHRA’s six-race playoffs on a good note, which means carrying this early-season momentum into Norwalk. Savoie sits third in points, but Tonglet will also have to deal with the likes of four-time race winner Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana Jr., Joey Gladstone and Karen Stoffer at one of his favorite tracks this weekend.
But joining a team has taken some burden off Tonglet’s shoulders, allowing him to focus almost solely on riding. The early results have been strong and Tonglet has no plans of slowing down.
“It took me the longest to get used to not having to work on the bike,” Tonglet said. “That took a lot of stress off me and I feel like it’s helped out. Jerry and I work together very well. We drive each other to do better. If I see him make a good pass, I try to be perfect on mine. It’s just a good team and we’re excited for Norwalk. I enjoy this race a lot and there’s always a huge turnout of fans.”
Langdon will shoot for his first Top Fuel win in 2017, facing off against back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, points leader Steve Torrence and Bristol winner Clay Millican.
Defending event winner Capps has been dominant since winning his first Funny Car world championship. He has five victories in 2017, including last weekend in Bristol.
Line started 2017 with a win, but he’s chasing points leader Bo Butner and rookie Tanner Gray, who both have two wins this season. In all, eight drivers have won a race in Pro Stock in 2017.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its eighth of 12 stops in the 2017 season in Norwalk. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Douthit Motorsports eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car vs. Pro Jet Motorsports Al Z’s Hot Blade Jet Dragster. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, June 23 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 24, at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 25.