GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 10) – GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer kicks off the 2012 Pro Stock Motorcycle from the No. 7 position in the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville.
“It’s a tough road out there,” Stoffer said. “We certainly didn’t want to be in the No. 7 spot. We’d like to be a 5 or above, but we’re going to go out there with that GEICO Suzuki, and we’re going to do what we can to put down a good number. The bike’s there. It’s possibly going to get faster tomorrow. I’ll do my job, ride the bike good and hopefully go some rounds tomorrow.”
Stoffer made a best pass of 6.894 seconds at 192.58 mph and will face No. 10 qualifier Shawn Gann in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Stoffer is a former Gatornationals winner, going to victory lane in 2007 from the No. 16 position.
“We’ve obviously done better here in the past, as far as qualifying goes, but we’ve done worse here in the past, too – and we went to the final round and won the race from a further down position,” Stoffer said. “If you’re in, you can win on Sunday.
Stoffer made four consistent passes in qualifying, using Friday’s two rounds as a bit of a test session since the GEICO team didn’t get a chance to test in the off-season.
“The bike did great, actually, considering we didn’t have any test sessions this season,” Stoffer said. “Friday was kind of our test session day, blowing out all the bugs, getting the program down and getting comfortable on the bike after being off for six months.
“Both runs today were faster than the ones the day before, so that’s good.”
Stoffer is coming off one of her best seasons as a pro, finishing sixth in the standings while winning once and reaching four other final rounds. But mechanical issues caused the season to end on a bit of a sour note, so the veteran rider is anxious to return to form from early 2011.
“The object this year is to keep our form from last year,” Stoffer said. “I was riding well last year, and the bike was running good the first half of the season until we had the mechanical issues. We’d like to get back into the season we had the first part of 2011. I’ve got to ride smart and do what I did last year and be a machine out there. That’s my job.”
Crew chief Gary Stoffer has tuned the GEICO bike to be one of the top Suzukis in the field, as only LE Tonglet is higher in qualifying – though Stoffer and Tonglet had the same elapsed time.
“Gary has given me the bike,” Karen Stoffer said. “It’s one of the faster Suzukis, and that’s huge. Gary’s tuning it right, and he was able to come up to speed quickly, considering we didn’t have a test session like all the others did, Kudos to the team for giving me the bike, and we’re going to go do what we do on that GEICO bike and hopefully turn that win light on four times.”