Stoffer's Championship Hopes Ride on Big Go - 8/25/2009

It all comes down to this.

For a select few NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle riders, championship hopes and dreams will culminate at the tour's most prestigious race, the illustrious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, from Indianapolis, Ind., September 4-7.

Such is the case for GEICO Powersports rider Karen Stoffer who enters "The Big Go" ranked tenth in the Full Throttle point series, holding a slim two-point lead over No. 11 Steve Johnson. Following the Indianapolis race, only riders ranked in the top ten will compete in NHRA's Countdown to One championship playoffs.

Stoffer knows this position all too well. Last season in Indy, she competed in a "win and you're in" first round showdown against Hector Aranra. Stoffer won the race on a holeshot and advanced to the Countdown to finish No. 9 for the season, capturing her fifth consecutive top-ten finish.

Following her 2008 Indy experience, Stoffer was hoping to not be back in the same position the following season. However the team has battled a few mechanical gremlins in the hotly-contested category this year, which has kept Stoffer from clinching a Countdown berth early.

"To tell you the truth, I really do not like being here again, but now that we are, we are focused on solidifying our spot," Stoffer said. "I'm not giving up. Don't give up on us."

After 11 events, riders ranked in positions 8 through 12 are separated by less than 100 points. Heading into Indy the standings are as follows: No. 8 Michael Phillips - 500, No. 9 Shawn Gann - 475, No. 10 Karen Stoffer - 459, No. 11 Steve Johnson - 457 and No. 12 Junior Pippin - 409.

Team owner Doug Johnson says the team must keep the mood light and not get caught up in any added pressure.

"Our strategy for the Nationals is not to have any strategy. It's just go out and have fun, try our best and what happens, happens," Johnson said. "We've had a detailed plan the last two seasons and I've learned in racing you can plan all you want, but you never know what will happen. We've still got a great opportunity on the table."
Stoffer echoed Johnson's optimism.

"We just need to get our head in the game. We have had a tough year and now is our last chance to turn it around," Stoffer said. "We were in the same spot last year, and made it to the chase, so we know how to do it." Stoffer is more than pleased with the performance of her motorcycle as of late. At the last race in Reading, Pa., Stoffer qualified her GEICO Powersports Suzuki third with an impressive run of 7.02 at 188 mph.

"We had a great bike all weekend long," Stoffer said. "We are hoping for the same in Indy."

Throughout the weekend Stoffer will also compete in the elite Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle. During the season competitors earn points based on how well they qualify and the top eight riders are invited to take part in this special race Saturday, September 5th.

"I really want to do well in the Ringers Gloves Battle," Stoffer said. "We have had a great qualifying bike over the year and we would like to capitalize on that and bring home a win for GEICO."

Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all of her sponsors and supporters.

Geico Powersports 1-800-442-9253, Speed Dawg, Bates Leathers, Suzuki Extended Protection, Kymco, NGK, Airtech, Wrath Motorsports and TKO Graphics.