Stoffer overcomes The Strip's bad spirits to qualify at Las Vegas - 10/25/2012
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) - Karen Stoffer and the GEICO Suzuki team fought through the gremlins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to qualify No. 11 for the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.

And this time of year, especially for Stoffer, there are a lot of gremlins.

"This race track has always had this voodoo curse and gremlins," Stoffer said. "I don't know if the goblins come out early for us or not, but every single year, there's been some issue for us: Starting with the (transporter) door falling on me in 2005, my dad having a heart attack here in 2006, it just goes on and on."

This time, it was a cable to one of the four carburetors on her Suzuki engine that didn't disengage, causing her to abort her first qualifying attempt on Friday.

"You certainly don't want to do anything that will break the engine, so we shut it off and came back," Stoffer said. "Had we know, we probably could've whacked the throttle, and it would've come back in to place. Or I could've gone up to the line and held it wide open, it may have worked. But you just don't know those things."

The engine sounded off, so the team shut the bike down. The fix was easy, and crew chief Gary Stoffer was able to get it back out for the second session.

"It was one of those little goblins that ran in my motor and pulled that little cable out of its normal place," Stoffer said. "That's what happens here at this race.

"It's a bummer because you need every single run to get the tuneup. It's very, very dry here, and you need every run to get the fuel right to get the tuneup right. We were down a run, but Gary turned it around pretty quick."

Stoffer got down the track with a run of 7.041 seconds at 190.06 mph in less than ideal conditions Friday, but she improved to 6.996 seconds at 190.89 mph in Q3. She'll face No. 6 qualifier L.E. Tonglet in a battle of Suzukis in the first round Sunday. Tonglet's top lap was 6.973 seconds at 192.52 mph.

"It will definitely be a good race," Stoffer said. "Bummer we have to race a Suzuki in the first round, but at least we're matched up. We've got a shot against each other."

Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all of the 2012 sponsors and supporters.
Geico Powersports 1-800-442-9253, Suzuki Extended Protetion, Bates Leathers, KYMCOUSA, NGK, Airtech, Red Line Oil, American Racing Products, Mechanix Wear Gloves, and TKO Graphics.