GEICO racers Stoffer and Lucas ready for big race day in Gainesville
"It was cool setting the record and it helped us make the Countdown last year," Stoffer said. "Overall, consistency is what we're shooting for and have been for the last three years. I'll take the consistency any day. I'm starting the season more excited than when we set the record last year."
Stoffer put her Suzuki fourth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle field, while GEICO teammate Morgan Lucas has the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster 12th on the Top Fuel ladder.
Stoffer had a best pass of 6.833 seconds at 198.00 mph. Most importantly, the elapsed times she was posting were all within a few hundredths of a second.
"When you can make the bike run the same way over and over, it makes us pretty excited," Stoffer said. "Consistency has been the name of the game. My trees have been consistent, which is great for the team because it helps them tune the bike."
As the No. 4 qualifier, Stoffer squares off against No. 13 qualifier Michael Ray, who made a best pass of 6.933 at 187.52 mph.
"Our testing helped us out quite a bit," Stoffer said. "We discovered a lot and fixed a lot. Now that bike has made nine or 10 consecutive perfectly straight passes on two different tracks. If we can maintain that consistency Sunday we'll be happy."
Top Fuel points leader Lucas, who won the season opener in Pomona from the bottom half of the ladder, had a best pass of 3.879 at 317.57 mph.
"I feel a lot better today than I felt Friday," Lucas said. "Yesterday wasn't anything the team did wrong, more that I made a mistake driving. Today I brought my lunch pail and I did what I had to do. The guys gave me a really good car."
Lucas draws No. 5 qualifier Steve Torrence, who went 3.860 at 313.80 mph.
"You have to be in it to win it," Lucas said. "So it doesn't really matter where you end up, as we showed in Pomona. All those cars out there are tough. It all depends on the breaks that you get. I want to show up tomorrow and be the best driver I can be, and we're going to go out there with the best car there can be."
Eliminations for the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals begin at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday. ESPN2 picks up its coverage of the event at 6 p.m. EDT.