Gainesville, Sunday: GEICO rider Karen Stoffer performed well Sunday in the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, but her Suzuki came up short in the second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
Stoffer had the better reaction time in both her first- and second-round matchups Sunday, but after beating Shawn Gann in the first round, Stoffer was out-run by Hector Arana Jr. in round two.
Stoffer had a .066-second reaction time against Gann (.081), and then left on Arana Jr., .040 seconds to .059. But it wasn’t enough.
“I had a little problem with my lights in qualifying,” Stoffer said. “It was almost like I forgot what I was supposed to do, but it all came around for race day. (Crew chief) Gary (Stoffer) gave me a subtle reminder that clued me in, and we got it all fixed.
“We were there, but unfortunately, the power of those V motors got us. It’s going to be a tough year. The Suzuki count is dwindling. The V motors are getting more and more volume out there, and there’s more of them, and a lot more R&D on them. They’re coming out swinging this year. Our bat just wasn’t as big as theirs.”
Stoffer scored her first round win of the season in beating Gann, going 6.944 seconds at 191.10 mph to Gann’s 6.972 at 189.98 mph. That made Stoffer one of two Suzukis to advance to the second round, along with L.E. Tonglet.
In the second round, Stoffer made a pass of 6.992 seconds at 188.62 mph, falling to Arana’s 6.878 at 188.44 mph.
“We gave it a good shot,” Stoffer said. “We were right there with them. I don’t think it had a low .80 or a high .70 like the V motors out there, but we definitely had a good performing Suzuki. We were 1 and 2 as the fastest Suzukis with L.E. Tonglet, and we’re proud of that fact.
“I’m proud of the team putting this together and putting on a good show without any testing. We had no issues and kept tuning it and racing. Not exactly ecstatic, because we do usually do well. We have a challenging year in front of us, but we’re ready to keep working at it and keep trying to get some more power out of these.
“All in all, the GEICO team did well. We didn’t have any motors to test with, so we had no testing. We came in here cold. Gary got to the tune-up real quick, though. It was a weird weekend here in Florida. We couldn’t exactly use last year’s data because the conditions were a little different.
“Gary was able to get the bike tuned up really quick and get us in the seventh spot. Had we had some test sessions, who knows? Maybe it could’ve been better. But it got us in the top half of the ladder, so that’s good for the GEICO team.”