Stoffer is enjoying view from the top
Karen Stoffer said it’s time.
The NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader called it time to refocus — time to reset her goals — time to win a championship.
With a five-point lead over Eddie Krawiec heading into this weekend’s 30th Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, there is no better time than now.
“Heading out to the second half of the season, it’s time to get settled and focused back on our goal,” she said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to go as many rounds as we could. We haven’t really been living up to that. If we can get back to running consistently fast rounds everything will turnout.”
In eight races this season, Stoffer has reached the finals three times with her one win coming in Denver. That victory catapulted her back on top of the points where she withstood a quarterfinal exit at Sonoma to remain in the lead.
Her recent struggles have come from the engine.
It’s one reason Stoffer called the season really good, but also really frustrating.
“This is our best season so far in the past eight years, but it hasn’t been without struggles,” said the rider of the GEICO Powersports Suzuki. “I go back to Norwalk where all the troubles began mechanically. We weren’t able to make all of our qualifying runs. We wanted to make the most of each run and go down the race track as many times as they offer at an event.
“At Norwalk we lost in the opening round. The next week in Chicago we lost in the quarterfinal. In Denver, things worked out fairly well, but we still couldn’t make two of the four qualifying passes.”
Stoffer’s troubles at Norwalk and Chicago dropped her to second place before her win in Denver launched her back in the lead. That’s where she hopes to be once the points get recalibrated heading into the Chase for One after Indianapolis.
Stoffer has made the chase each year since the format was implemented four years ago. She’s finished in the top 10 the last seven years. She has been consistent. She has not been a champion.
“For me personally, it’s been a great year,” said Stoffer. “I’m really staying focused and having a good time and putting on a great show for the fans. I’m doing my job. If you make that your focus and priority then the wins and the No. 1 spot will come. I’ll have to admit my team is very anxious and excited and wants to maintain that No. 1 position going into the countdown because you get those extra 20 points and that’s a round and that could help out. I just need to do my job, stay focused and be consistent. If I do that every time and my crew does it every time then a championship will come.”
First things first and that means Brainerd, where Stoffer qualified ninth last year and excited in the first round thanks to Hector Arana. In 2009, Stoffer qualified No. 2, but again lost in the first round.
“Brainerd is probably different than any other track we go to because the weather is one of the most challenging elements,” said Stoffer. “It’s humid there where it’s dry every where else we go. Brainerd is more of a tuner’s race. It’s a fun race and the fans are always great there, but it’s going to be a tuner’s race and what you’ll probably see are a lot of teams that are solidly in the chase doing testing and tuning for Indy.”
For Stoffer and her team BIR is about refocusing. Setting the goal and going rounds. She owns a 17-7 round record, but would like to see more rounds and an even better ratio.
“I’m some place I’ve never been before,” said Stoffer. “In the past, we would be going to Indy wondering if we were going to make the chase or not. It’s really nice to be in (the chase) for sure and be the first one to do so. That says a lot about the team, our bike and our program.
“I personally would be happy with this season no matter what. Of course part of me realizes you don’t get to these spots very often so you don’t want to lose it. It’s hard to get here and be No. 1.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.