POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13) – The 2011 Pro Stock Motorcycle season didn’t end the way she wanted in the NHRA Finals on Sunday, but GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer can still hold her head high.
That’s because 2011 was one of the best seasons of Stoffer’s career, and the GEICO team hung together despite trying circumstances late in the year.
Stoffer finished seventh in the final points standings, matching the second-highest finish of her career (she was sixth in 2006). Stoffer won one race and set personal bests with four other final-round appearances and a 22-14 win-loss record.
Stoffer led the points standings in late July before numerous engine problems cropped up in the closing months of the season. The GEICO team was forced to swap engines in six consecutive races as the season came to an end.
“This sport is so humbling,” Stoffer said. “You have so many highs. We started off the season on a high. Everything was good, we were hitting shift points, we had out bike tuned well, we were running fast. Things were clicking, and we were running for a championship. That was huge for the team. We had a lot of first for us, with a lot of final rounds and a win. We were on a good path.
“Then the bottom fell out, quite honestly. It was like the whole world collapsed on us, as far as racing goes. The cool thing about it is this team hung cool, hung tough, and we worked our butts off. We changed motors, we bought motors, we scrapped things, we changed things. We did everything we could to maintain that top-three standing. The team is striving for a top-three every year.”
Stoffer fell in the first round Sunday to Eddie Krawiec, who clinched the 2011 Pro Stock Motorcycle championship in the next round. Stoffer left first on Krawiec and made a solid pass of 6.993 second at 191.54 mph, but Krawiec made the winning run of 6.873 seconds at 196.22 mph.
“That was the best we had,” Stoffer said. “We got him on the tree, barely. We cut a good light, he cut a good light. We had a good pass, the tune-up was there, the pass was there, the shift points were there. Everything was good.
“I think everybody and their brother in this world that watches drag racing knows we were on our last motor. We have an old motor, and we were going to try to be in the show. We got in the show, which was good. It was just one of those deals. We put our best foot forward, and somebody else had a better foot. That’s how it goes.”
Stoffer and the GEICO team, led by crew chief Gary Stoffer, continued to work together despite the late-season problems.
“We worked our tails to the bone, and we had a good, synergistic team,” Stoffer said. “What we’re coming out of this with is a good season. We couldn’t have done anything different to change the outcome. There was nothing that this team did all year long to change the outcome. Anything that happened to us was completely out of our control. What we did have control of, we tried to make changes, tried to repair.
“We have a great, strong team, and we can pull it together when we have to. We’re out here putting on a good show.”
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