Four-Wide Glory On GEICO Powersports Racer's Minds - 3/27/2010
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 27) -- It was quirky at times, and the action wasn't always the smoothest, but the time trials at the inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals were finally completed Saturday afternoon with GEICO Powersports racers Morgan Lucas and Karen Stoffer looking ahead to eliminations with high levels of anticipation.

This race marks the first time in history that NHRA is contesting action in four lanes at the same time. In fact, zMax Dragway is the only track on tour with the unique four-lane configuration. It's taken some adjustments, but Top Fuel ace Lucas and Pro Stock Motorcycle veteran Stoffer both think they're ready to go and eager to claim the trophy at this historic event, if everyone plays fair.

"There are a few people who need to get on their game with staging and not take their sweet time, because it felt like I had the (clutch) pedal out forever," Lucas said. "I think tomorrow everyone needs to try harder to get their act together because we're all going to be a little more jacked up.

"My opinion of the four-wide is insignificant compared to that of the fans. That's something NHRA needs to look at. I've heard a lot of negative feedback. I'll support what everybody wants but I'm not exactly thrilled about it."

After qualifying with a 3.888 at 309.13 mph in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster, Lucas will open eliminations against top qualifier Cory McClenathan (3.790 at 319.82 mph), Rhonda Hartman-Smith (3.888 at 313.15 mph), and final qualifier Brandon Bernstein, who limped into the contest with a 3.998 at 288.39 mph.

The two drivers in each foursome that post the quickest elapsed times of the round will advance, regardless of what lane they occupy.

"I hate to race Brandon, he's a really good friend of mine," Lucas said. "Cory's had a real good car this year and Rhonda in her first race back so she has something to prove. It's going to be interesting to see what happens, but it's nice to know (stablemate) Shawn Langdon and me are on opposite sides of the ladder so we both have a chance to take it to the end."

Atop her GEICO Powersports Suzuki, which topped out at 6.992 seconds at 191.32 mph in qualifying, Stoffer's first-round group is comprised of defending series champion Hector Arana (6.897 at 192.52 mph), Jim Underdahl (6.906 at 193.90 mph), and David Hope (6.981 at 188.49 mph).

"I'm not going to worry about my other three opponents," she said. "I'm going to go out and do my thing and make sure my bike goes down the middle of the lane.

"We made a couple of changes after Gainesville and the bike's been acting funny ever since. So we're going to put an old tire back on and get back to the way it was during the Gainesville race. I feel confident going into Sunday, but Friday and Saturday was sure not what we expected.

"A lot of people would ask 'why mess with a record-setting bike?' But you are always trying to find that extra something better. What we did wasn't a major change but we think something may have gone awry during maintenance."

Stoffer entered this weekend's race third in the world rankings.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. EDT.

Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all of the 2010 sponsors and supporters.
Geico Powersports 1-800-442-9253, Speed Dawg, Bates Leathers, Suzuki Extended Protection, Kymco, NGK, Airtech, Red Line Oil, and TKO Graphics.