Lucas Oil Racing press release
Running strong on her GEICO Suzuki, Stoffer a contender for Charlotte title
CHARLOTTE (Sept. 17) – GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer qualified No. 3 for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway, piling up some all-important qualifying points as the Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend.
Stoffer, who came into the Countdown third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, earned six points for qualifying No. 3 overall with a run of 6.873 seconds at 195.59 mph. Plus, she earned eight more points for placing in the top three in each of the four qualifying sessions.
"The important element of having the bonus points is we're getting back to the program that we had at the beginning of the year," Stoffer said. "Accumulating those bonus points through those first four or five races when we were doing well helped out significantly when we started having some issue in the last four races. It kept us above water and in the No. 3 spot in points.
"Right now, rounds are what is carrying the most weight, but those little tiny points you get for qualifying sure did help us out in the first half of the season, so hopefully, it'll help us out in the Countdown, too."
Stoffer led the points after four of 10 regular season races, and was on top as recently as the Brainerd race in mid August. Nagging engine problems slightly hampered the GEICO team since then, though Stoffer was fast at the end of the U.S. Nationals and again here in Charlotte.
"It's nice to be able to come out and run four good passes," Stoffer said. "We've got to get our game face on for tomorrow. That's what's it about. It’s not just about qualifying. It helps, but it's always more about race day. We've got to do our thing on race day."
Stoffer, who has qualified No. 3 in back-to-back races, faces No. 14 Justin Finley in Sunday's first round.
"We're glad to be back in the top half of the ladder pretty deep," Stoffer said. "That's where we'd like to qualify. I'm excited about going in for race day. It's supposed to be one of the better days tomorrow, maybe a little bit warmer, maybe a bit of sunshine. Hopefully, it'll keep the air cool and the bike fast – especially the GEICO bike."