Defending event champ Stoffer ready for more mile-high magic - 7/21/2012
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media

DENVER (July 21) - Defending Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals champion Karen Stoffer qualified No. 10 for this year's race, but the GEICO Suzuki rider says she's ready for another fight on the mountain at Bandimere Speedway.

Stoffer knows Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying on Friday and Saturday is one thing, but the race itself on Sunday is quite another.

"Your qualifying days are trying to figure out what the bike does in different weather," Stoffer said. "Nine times out of 10, you don't race at the same time you do in qualifying, and we don't race behind the same vehicles that we do during qualifying because they reverse the order of the pros.

"You're battling change on Sunday. You're hoping the information you gathered on Friday and Saturday can be applicable, but there's a small percentage that won't."

Plus, the competitive nature of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series riders picks up on Sunday.

"Everybody's amped up," Stoffer said. "Nobody wants to lose. Everything's a little but more tense. If I had to turn a dial, I'd say the dial is turned up a little bit more. It's definitely different on Sunday."

Stoffer qualified with a pass of 7.351 seconds at 178.87 mph and will face No. 7 qualifier Matt Smith in the first round Sunday. Smith's top lap was 7.321 seconds at 182.21 mph.

"We didn't hit the tune-up head-on like we did last year," Stoffer said. "We've been creeping up on it. The good news is the motor's in the bike, the motor's stayed together all weekend, and we haven't swapped one yet. That's always good for us because we've been battling that for a year.

"I'm optimistic going into Sunday. Denver's been good to me. It's a nice track, the fans are phenomenal here, so I'm OK going in on Sunday. We don't like being on the bottom half of the ladder, but that's OK. We've won from there before."

Stoffer's GEICO team accomplished a rare feat in qualifying, improving each run. She started with a pass of 7.399 seconds at 179.95 mph in the first session, improving to 7.358 at 180.96 mph in Q2, then 7.352 at 179.83 mph in Q3 before her best lap in the final session.

"I was pretty proud of my team that in the hottest session of the weekend, we still improved," Stoffer said. "I think we have the bike. We've just got to figure out what it's going to be like tomorrow. Sunday is always a different day than qualifying, so we're going to analyze it and come out and hopefully put Matt Smith on the trailer first round. We've been there, done that, and hopefully we do it again."

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.