Karen Stoffer is a meteorological genius. On Friday, she predicted that Tropical Storm Karen and Hurricane Jerry would swamp World Wide Technology Raceway (AKA Gateway) just across the Mississippi from St. Louis during the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
She was half right, which is pretty strong for a weather person these days. Her White Alligator Racing teammate Jerry Savoie lost in E1, but Karen slapped a Cat 5 win on the Pro Stock Motorcycle field.
“If she does her job, she’ll win this race,” WAR boss Jerry Savoie told me as Stoffer rolled into the waterbox for her final round match with regular season dominator Andrew Hines.
And Stoffer ALWAYS does her job. Her 6.869 at 197.74 mph delivered her first winlight in in four years against Hines’ 6.871 at 196.59. It is Stoffer’s ninth career win and she jumped to second in points behind Hines. Savoie entered the the weekend in first and dropped to fifth after an E1 loss.
Stoffer had to wait to stage for a bit in round 1 against Flyin’ Ryan Oehler, who’s EBR still had the throttle body covers on. “Should’ve made them pink instead of black,” said Oehler, who acted quickly to reach in, remove them, burn out and stage. But then his EBR bogged badly and he was done.
Karen next faced defending champ and No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith, who nicked a -.002 redlight while Stoffer nailed a .005.
Stoffer then slapped an .008 on Eddie Krawiec, who took .053 to launch his Harley. Stoffer’s Suzuki also outran Krawiec’s mount by .006.
Like Oehler, Michael Ray had his own E1 drama when his MSR Victory lost fire before staging, which meant a long run back to the waterbox for crewman Brandon Petit to fetch the large, awkward V-twin starter cart. “I went to check if I was in first gear good and when I went to move my hands, the clutch slipped out of my hands,” reported Ray. “That Victory fairing is tight quarters in there.” Once restarted, Ray’s bike had nothing for Hines.
Andrew put a .005 to Angie Smith’s .083 in E2, then outran Angie’s MSR EBR by .031.
After winning E2 against Angelle Sampey via her redlight, Steve Johnson (whose Suzuki also outran Angelle’s Harley) advanced to face Hines in the semis. That’s where Johnson blew what should have been another all-Suzuki final by giving up .050 to Andrew at the tree and outrunning him .89 to .91.
Stoffer and Hines’ match-up was their first final together in nine years. Stoffer was quicker off the line by only .002 and and .007 quicker on track for her first win since 2015.
“We had Flyin’ Ryan, Matt, and then Eddie and then we had Andrew,” said Stoffer. “Out of all the heavy hitters, those are it. We just went out and did our job.
“The Suzuki platform definitely went through some challenges and we’re not one of those high-budget teams, but we have fun. It’s been a long time (since her last win), and I wasn’t even scheduled to race this year, and here we are in the top 10 and winning a race in the Countdown.”
Check out the full press room interview with Stoffer here:
I tried interviewing Hines back at the trailer. “Came up a little short, eh?”
“Did we come up short?”
“Well, you got the points lead, but I’m sure you wanted to win the race.”
“Winning would have been nice,” he said, looking at his phone the whole time. “I, uh, have a text coming in.”
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.911, 195.85 def. Ryan Oehler, 7.037, 193.52; Hector Arana Jr, 6.935, 194.77 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.971, 195.31; Angie Smith, 6.934, 195.03 def. Hector Arana, 6.951, 194.02; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 195.39 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.967, 191.84; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 195.22 def. Michael Ray, 7.018, 190.54; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.854, 195.73 def. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.121, 185.87; Matt Smith, 6.902, 197.77 def. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 11.986, 67.85; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.907, 194.83 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 9.873, 86.58;
QUARTERFINALS — Stoffer, 6.916, 196.30 def. M. Smith, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.895, 195.17 def. A. Smith, 6.926, 193.88; Johnson, 6.914, 194.07 def. Sampey, Foul – Red Light; Krawiec, 6.892, 195.59 def. Arana Jr, 7.011, 193.63;
SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.916, 195.42 def. Johnson, 6.892, 193.90; Stoffer, 6.921, 195.59 def. Krawiec, 6.927, 194.38;
FINAL — Stoffer, 6.869, 197.74 def. Hines, 6.876, 196.59.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points
1. Andrew Hines, 2,266; 2. Karen Stoffer, 2,232; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 2,215; 4. Matt Smith, 2,205; 5. Jerry Savoie, 2,200; 6. Hector Arana Jr, 2,169; 7. Angelle Sampey, 2,136; 8. Angie Smith, 2,116; 9. Ryan Oehler, 2,075; 10. Hector Arana, 2,064.
story and photos by Tim Hailey