ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 2) – Karen Stoffer's GEICO Suzuki has been plenty fast during the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park despite not yet making a clean pass.
Stoffer has battled various issues this weekend, yet still qualified No. 11 with a lap of 6.918 seconds at 193.96 mph. The team has yet to make a trouble-free run on a trimmed-out setup, but with the speed she's shown, Stoffer has confidence heading into Sunday's final eliminations.
"As competitive as we've been all year and in the past, anywhere in the top 16, especially at Englishtown, we can do well," Stoffer said. "It's got to be your day, you've got to have a motor that goes from A to B, and the Wally can end up in the GEICO Suzuki's hands."
In Friday's first qualifying session, Stoffer's bike drifted right at about the 300-foot mark, and she sat up and aborted the run. In Q2, Stoffer had a solid run, going 6.919 seconds at 184.25 mph, but the bike wouldn't shift into high gear.
Her GEICO team worked late into Friday night, taking the engine and transmission combination out of the Suzuki in an effort to fix the problem. For Q3, the shifting problem was gone, and Stoffer made her best pass of the weekend.
"That was our first pass down the race track, so we had a conservative tune-up in there," Stoffer said. "That was a .91, and we had high hopes considering we ran a .91 yesterday, and that was in the good air – but we didn't have sixth gear, and we didn't have a vacuum pump.
"Combined with all the issues that went wrong, we thought if we got all those issues corrected, we'd go out and do well."
Tuning on the setup for changing weather and track conditions, Stoffer went 6.969 seconds at 176.97 mph as the bike again wouldn't go into high gear.
"It was a pretty decent pass," Stoffer said. "I think we may have had the tune-up there, but it wouldn't go into high gear again."
The team changed engine/transmission combo after Q4, taking "Wilson" out and replacing it with "Dirty Harry."
"I don't know who we race, I don't know where we're at," Stoffer said. "I just know we've got to get a motor in that bike that goes from A to B without any issues.
"We'll put our A game forward as much as we can tomorrow and throw a tune-up that we know the motor likes for this race track likes and do our job."
In the first round Sunday, Stoffer faces Andrew Hines, who qualified No. 6 with a pass of 6.874 seconds at 196.53 mph.