GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer roared to the No. 4 qualifying position in the final qualifying session for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Summit Motorsports Park.
Stoffer was outside the top half of the field before Q4, but crew chief/husband Gary Stoffer put a solid setup on the bike, and Karen rode it to a pass of 6.992 seconds at 192.52 mph.
"We kind of waited to the midnight hour, didn't we?" Stoffer said. "I think Gary and I were still on vacation for the first three hits because he wasn't exactly on his game tuning and I wasn't exactly on my game riding. We finally put it all together and realized why we were here, I guess, on the last hit."
Stoffer was being self-deprecating, of course, as her and husband Gary are veterans of the sport who have won numerous races at the national level. Fresh off a vacation to Sweden and Finland, Stoffer made plus-7-second runs in each of Friday's first two sessions, and then Stoffer got out of the throttle early in Q3.
"We struggled. It's a hot, slippery track out there," Stoffer said. "If you look at the Pro Stock bike class, there were a lot of us who improved in the hottest session, and that shouldn't happen unless you were way off on your tuneup. We were definitely in the majority, but luckily we were able to figure it out."
Stoffer said the GEICO team hesitated even making a run in the final session but decided they needed the data for a hot-weather setup.
"The strange thing is we finally got the tuneup for this weather, and now we're going to have wacky, cooler weather tomorrow," Stoffer said. "We'll have a totally different tuneup in the bike, but Gary's pretty comfortable going in to tomorrow. And we needed to figure out hot, slippery tracks. We've got a few more in front of us."
In the first round of eliminations Sunday, which should take place around noon,
Stoffer faces Matt Smith, who qualified No. 13 with a pass of 7.086 seconds at 189.28 mph.
Photo by Matt Polio