GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer obviously was frustrated over her second-round red light Sunday in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park, but she was more frustrated over not knowing why it happened.
"If I could go to the finish line and say, 'Yeah, I left early (because) I was anxious,' that'd be one thing," Stoffer said. "My frustration is I go down to the finish line, and I'm bewildered as to what happened because I did everything exactly the same as the pass before. I looked at it, and my feet were flat, my handgrip was the same, everything was the same on my side.
"But to go that red, everybody says it's nerves, but it's hard for me to say I was nervous when I really wasn't. My goal is to do the same thing I did the pass before and I did."
Stoffer had a .016-second reaction time in beating Matt Smith in the first round, out-running the past Pro Stock Motorcycle champion with a pass of 6.987 seconds at 191.32 mph to Smith's 7.063 at 187.81 mph.
And in looking over the video of her second-round matchup with another Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, Eddie Krawiec, Stoffer noticed she repeated her starting-line procedure.
"I've been really good with it this year," Stoffer said. "It hasn't even crossed my mind because we had it all taken care of. For some reason, it raised its ugly head at this race track. I'm going to put it behind me. I'm not going to let get it my head."
Stoffer had a solid weekend in Norwalk, posting her best qualifying effort of the season and then winning in the first round for the fifth time in six races this season.
"The team's given me a good bike," Stoffer said. "We're going to be heading out to Denver now. It's a whole different game there. A lot of red-lights happen there because of what you've got to do to the motors. You've got to crank 'em up. There's not a lot of oxygen up there, so you've got to leave the line with them really hard.
"I'm going to put Norwalk completely out of my head and just race the bike they give me. We're going to a track where we did well at last year, so hopefully, we can duplicate."
Stoffer's team of crew chief Gary Stoffer and crew members Greg Underdahl and Doug Johnson put in a Herculean effort in Norwalk, battling temperatures in the upper 90s and heat indexes near 110 degrees.
"To pull up in that fourth session, which is the hottest part of the weekend – but also the hottest pass – and to pull out that 6.99 is great," Stoffer said of qualifying. "It was brutal out here; it's like an oven. And when you're working over these hot motors and doing all the computer stuff, it's hard for the crew. Hat's off to the crew. They gave me a great bike on the last pass for Saturday and today. I blew it and didn't give 'em back the ride I should've given 'em."
Photo by Matt Polio