GEICO's Stoffer feels right at home ahead of eliminations at Sonoma - 7/28/2012
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media

SONOMA, Calif. (July 28) - This weekend's NHRA Sonoma Nationals aren't exactly a home game for GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer, but Sears Point Raceway feels a lot like home for her and her team.

Stoffer and husband/crew chief Gary Stoffer live in Gardnerville, Nev., about three-and-a-half hours from Sonoma. Plus, the Stoffers have a long history here, with Karen first racing a divisional at this track in 1992.

Add in Stoffer's No. 5 qualifier for this weekend's race, and you can see why she's smiling.

"This is one of our home tracks, just because we used to bracket race here," Stoffer said. "It's nice to be around a friendly crowd, a familiar crowd. We have a lot of fans, friends and family here. Sometimes it adds a little more pressure because you always want to do better, it's fun.

"Tomorrow is race day, tomorrow is, 'Keep your head on.' We've got a quick Suzuki, so I've got to keep my head down, stay focused and race and have fun."

Stoffer surged to the No. 5 spot in Saturday's opening session, making a lap of 6.907 seconds at 192.47 mph. In the first round of eliminations Sunday, she'll square off against Michael Phillips, who qualified No. 12 with a pass of 6.981 at 193.77 mph.

"I'm happy the GEICO bike is sitting in the No. 5 spot," Stoffer said. "That's where we've been running, that's where we're sitting in overall points. Considering I've got the four big monsters in front of me, that's good to be sitting right there. We've got a Buell sitting on our butt with Matt Smith. Should be a good race day tomorrow."

Stoffer, who has won at least one round in six of the seven Pro Stock Motorcycle races this season, has been racing at Sonoma for 20 years, and Gary still races in Super Street or Super Gas from time to time. Much has changed since, as Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith has made substantial upgrades to the facility. Some things, Stoffer said, haven't changed.

"The people are the same, the atmosphere, the fun is the same," Stoffer said. "It's always nice weather. It's just a fun track."

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.