Record Shattering at the Gators: Part 1

NHRA’s Gatornationals always seems to require multi-volume reporting, and this year’s record-shattering event is no exception. This part covers the basics of what happened, the next articles will cover the details of how it happened.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that a 6.66 would have been really cookin’ on a big turbo Funnybike. But hell, Pro Stock Motorcycles were only running 7s then and to run a 7.0 was a really big deal.

So it was also a big deal when Karen Stoffer dropped the PSM record 4 numbers from a 6.72 to a .68 on her Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Group, White Alligator Racing Suzuki in the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway on Sunday. And remember, after a complete washout on Friday and a cold track disagreement on Saturday, E1 was the very first pass down the track for all but four bikes and riders.

That meant that raceday started with clearly record setting (very cool) conditions, but absolutely no data for those most likely to set a record. Stoffer and the WAR team were the ones that nailed it.

Stoffer and her Paul Gast-red TL dropped it two more numbers in round 2 with a 6.66. Her opponents in those two rounds were Jimmy Underdahl and Eddie Krawiec, respectively.

Great things were expected from Underdahl this event after some stellar testing on his Matt Smith-tuned, Monster 4-valve head, Scrapper’s Racing Suzuki. But his TL just blew the tire off at the hit and pogoed a bit before he let out and watched Stoffer make history.

And if Underdahl’s E1 launch looked rough, then Matt’s was downright lurid. Riding Jianna Salinas’ Scrappers TL Suzuki (Jianna is healing a broken foot from her broken-forks testing crash), Matthew spun left towards the wall and damn near hit the thing. In the other lane, Lance Bonham ran to an unlikely win (his first in PSM) on Blake Gann’s OG Buell. Lance was one who made a qualifying pass on Saturday.

Lance Bonham!

I’m told that Matt took the blame and apologized to Scrapper’s boss Mike Salinas for making the wrong tuning calls.

It’s hard to blame Matt for missing the tune-up, starting the year off with one shot to get it right in extreme conditions on a platform that he’s very much just learning. “If Matt had the red bike (Buell) out, he’d be in contention for going .60s as well,” said WAR tuner/manager Tim Kulungian. “But he’s dedicated to the Salinas program and he really wants to make an effort at getting Jianna’s bike going, so when she comes back, she has a great motorcycle.

“I mean, that’s a that’s a pretty honorable thing, you know? He’s taking responsibility for it. He also, in my opinion, gave up an opportunity to earn a record. Because he would have had a chance at earning that record.”

Stoffer agreed. “Very easily, Matt could have said, ‘Okay, based on everything, I’m going to go back to my reliable, I’m not going to ride this Suzuki. I’m going to go back and ride my Buell that I know is a championship bike, and I can dial it in because I’ve made millions of passes down this racetrack.’ And he could have totally changed the whole dynamic of what happened on Sunday.

“But you know, kudos to him (for putting the Salinas program first).”

“Matt fundamentally understands motorcycle drag racing, that it is gonna be a little bit of a learning curve for the first few races,” added Kulungian. “That was a horrible event to have first, with no qualifying and a unique environment. This is, you know, with a very small (tuning) window. It’s a really, really tough predicament he was in.”

It wasn’t just MSR that got it wrong with their Suzukis in E1, and both Vance & Hines ‘Busas also spun. Eddie Krawiec had the good fortune to be racing the wounded GSXR of Michael Phillips, while Angelle spun towards the wall (same lane, same wall, but not as bad as Smith) and lost to My #1 qualifier Marc Ingwersen. Steve Johnson also had an ugly pass, but had the benefit of a David Barron no-show.

In all, E1 looked like the first round of qualifying at any event—ragged.

E2 started looking a little more like normal. As noted, Stoffer advanced past Krawiec with the .66 that will stand as the record.

Karen Stoffer

In the semis she faced WAR team boss Jerry Savoie, who had a lurid moment of his own in the left lane in round 2, crossing the center after the finishline. “As soon as he cleared the grandstand, a left-right crosswind just blew him over really, really hard,” reported Kulungian.

For the race against Stoffer, Savoie was in the right lane. “In testing (in the right lane), Karen went to the wall and Jerry went to the wall,” said Kulungian. “I’m probably not pointing them to the left enough in that lane, that lane is crowned really bad. And on a bike, if you get in the middle of that lane, it’s gonna suck you to the wall. It happened really early in the (Jerry’s semifinal) run, around 330 or 400 feet, and it didn’t stop by the time he was 1000 feet. He was just really, really dangerously close to the wall. So the run was aborted, which was the right thing to do, and that ended his his day—unfortunately.

“I love when the race each other, because I know I give them both everything I have. And so for me, it’s really exciting to watch. Because in my mind, I don’t know who’s gonna win, so it’s kind of fun to watch this unfold. I’ve had my hand in both these motorcycles and I really like to see them both cross the stripe under power.”

The idea that Smith’s day as a rider would have been different had he chosen the Buell was pretty much proven when wife Angie Smith took her own MSR Buell to the final against Stoffer. In the quickest side-by-side race in PSM history, Stoffer’s 6.700 at 200.77 took the win against Angie’s 6.723 at 201.28—quicker than Matt’s ever been.

It was Stoffer’s 11th career PSM win, and her fourth straight final round, dating back to last season.

“I knew the conditions were fantastic and out of the box, the bike was on fire,” said Stoffer, who now has three Gatornationals wins. “Gainesville is like my second home. I’ve spent a lot of time here, I feel really comfortable racing here, and I’ve done well. When you look at that whole package, it means a lot and it’s definitely a dream come true to win and set a record at one of my favorite tracks. I love it here and it’s really nice to know we were able to cement something and say we were the first bike in the 6.60s.”

Angie at speed

Smith advanced to her third career final round thanks to round wins against Chris Bostick, Steve Johnson, and Joey Gladstone. “During pre-season testing, we tested a brand new, totally different clutch for my bike,” said Angie. “It was testing and we didn’t have it completely figured out, so we took it out and started back with our standard clutch from 2021. So first round (with no qualifying) was kind of a guess as far as the tree and lights, because we had no data. Yes, my light wasn’t great (.i28) but it gave us the data we needed to make adjustments for the next rounds ahead. My bike got faster and faster every pass. First round we went up conservatively just to make a good lap and then we made improvements. I made four passes over 200 mph and I guess I can say I’m the secnd person to do that—Matt being the first.

“Congrats to Karen on the record and the win!”

You’ll hear a lot more from Kulungian and Stoffer in the coming articles.

Here’s video of Karen’s post-race press conference:

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE results

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.781, 196.73 def. Ryan Oehler, 6.833, 197.91; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.866, 198.52 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.877, 193.77; Angie Smith, 6.812, 201.19 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.129, 192.30; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.682, 198.70 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 9.686, 83.65; Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.884, 198.79 def. Michael Phillips, Buell, 16.508, 54.52; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 10.687, 89.13 def. David Barron, Broke – No Show; Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 6.854, 195.03 def. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 8.309, 105.00; Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.444, 181.13 def. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 8.565, 113.56;

QUARTERFINALS — Gladstone, 6.784, 197.91 def. Ingwersen, 6.849, 197.42; A. Smith, 6.764, 200.62 def. Johnson, 6.860, 198.38; Savoie, 6.815, 194.32 def. Bonham, 7.116, 188.04; Stoffer, 6.665, 200.71 def. Krawiec, 6.927, 197.74;

SEMIFINALS — A. Smith, 6.738, 201.01 def. Gladstone, 6.884, 198.29; Stoffer, 6.721, 200.08 def. Savoie, 7.735, 124.21;

FINAL — Stoffer, 6.700, 200.77 def. A. Smith, 6.723, 201.28.

Pro Stock Motorcycle points

  1. Karen Stoffer, 110; 2. Angie Smith, 90; 3. (tie) Joey Gladstone, 70; Jerry Savoie, 70; 5. (tie) Lance Bonham, 50; Marc Ingwersen, 50; Steve Johnson, 50; Eddie Krawiec, 50; 9. (tie) David Barron, 30; Chris Bostick, 30; Kelly Clontz, 30; Ryan Oehler, 30; Angelle Sampey, 30; Matt Smith, 30; Jim Underdahl, 30
Matt Hagan

Three-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan gave Tony Stewart Racing its first NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series victory. In his second final this season, Hagan powered his Dodge Power Brokers Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT to a run of 3.910-seconds at 330.96 mph to beat Blake Alexander in the final round. It gives Hagan his 40th career victory and just as importantly, his first-ever win at historic Gainesville Raceway. He reached the final round with wins against Dave Richards, Terry Haddock, and Chad Green. Hagan joined the first-year Tony Stewart Racing team in the off-season and posted a No. 1 qualifier and a runner-up for the team before the momentous win on Sunday in Gainesville.

“To get this first win at the Gatornationals and Tony Stewart’s first win in a drag car, it’s pretty awesome,” Hagan said. “He wants to be here, and it says a lot for our sport. It was a good weekend for Tony, a good weekend for NHRA and I’m just very blessed and humbled to be here. I want to make sure I’m showing up on the starting line and doing my part and I just know what this team is capable of. It’s a lot of tough competition, but as a driver that’s exciting.

“It just was a big weekend for me personally because I’ve been wanting to win this race and check it off on my career box, and I think this allows me to accomplish everything I’ve ever set out to do in NHRA.”

Added Stewart: “This is pretty badass, especially at the Gatornationals. We’ve got two awesome race teams that work their butts off. I’m really proud of all these guys.”

Making his first appearance of the 2022 season, Alexander advanced to his fifth career final round, knocking off J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps.

FUNNY CAR results

ROUND ONE — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.332, 289.01 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 6.927, 126.99; Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.094, 290.19 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, Foul – Centerline; Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.914, 326.95 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.124, 261.02; Robert Hight, Camaro, 8.457, 82.92 def. John Smith, Charger, Broke; Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.966, 321.81 def. J.R. Todd, Supra, 10.930, 81.58; Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.266, 258.57 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 9.057, 83.17; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.864, 336.23 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.552, 75.02; Chad Green, Mustang, 3.953, 323.58 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.492, 195.62;

QUARTERFINALS — Hagan, 4.021, 315.42 def. Haddock, Broke; Alexander, 3.927, 325.14 def. Pedregon, Foul – Red Light; Capps, 3.913, 327.90 def. Force, 4.096, 324.59; Green, 3.987, 320.36 def. Hight, 6.631, 102.17;

SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 3.894, 332.84 def. Green, 4.011, 288.33; Alexander, 3.938, 322.96 def. Capps, 9.299, 80.52;

FINAL — Hagan, 3.910, 330.96 def. Alexander, 9.561, 80.15.

Funny Car points

  1. Robert Hight, 308; 2. Matt Hagan, 297; 3. Ron Capps, 231; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 188; 5. John Force, 155; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 149; 7. Bob Tasca III, 137; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 135; 9. Chad Green, 131; 10. J.R. Todd, 118.
Tripp Tatum

A day after picking up his first career No. 1 qualifier, Tripp Tatum did one better, driving to his first career Top Fuel victory with a standout run of 3.700 at 330.31 in his 11,000-horsepower Tripp Tatum Racing dragster. Making just his 12th career start, Tatum delivered a truly magical weekend, beating Lex Joon, Billy Torrence, and points leader Mike Salinas to reach the final round, a day after qualifying No. 1 with a 3.674 at 331.53. He was just as good on Sunday during eliminations, streaking past Foley to earn an incredible victory.

“This is pretty neat,” Tatum said. “My dad was at the first Gatornationals and my first career race was at the Gatornationals. This is just surreal and it’s not even close to setting in. There’s a lot of excitement now and this was a gigantic step for this team. I never really thought about winning, it’s been overwhelming and that’s all because of the Capco family. For me, I’m a lucky guy to have this opportunity to do this with the way Top Fuel is and the competition level in this class, it’s pretty awesome.”

Foley advanced to his first career final round, as the veteran knocked off Spencer Massey, Clay Millican and Justin Ashley in what was his most successful day as a Top Fuel driver.

TOP FUEL results

ROUND ONE — Billy Torrence, 4.020, 303.23 def. Austin Prock, 5.179, 129.02; Doug Foley, 3.762, 311.41 def. Spencer Massey, 4.253, 187.47; Justin Ashley, 3.687, 331.45 def. Josh Hart, 3.759, 305.42; Doug Kalitta, 3.708, 330.80 def. Alex Laughlin, 7.980, 82.78; Mike Salinas, 3.706, 330.47 def. Krista Baldwin, 5.312, 126.99; Clay Millican, 3.722, 326.24 def. Brittany Force, 8.317, 78.33; Tripp Tatum, 3.677, 329.58 def. Lex Joon, 6.591, 102.44; Steve Torrence, 3.696, 327.43 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.735, 313.29;

QUARTERFINALS — Foley, 3.809, 313.51 def. Millican, Foul – Red Light; Tatum, 3.727, 326.95 def. B. Torrence, 3.748, 326.24; Ashley, 3.683, 331.61 def. S. Torrence, 3.703, 327.19; Salinas, 3.698, 331.45 def. Kalitta, 3.701, 330.47;

SEMIFINALS — Tatum, 3.709, 327.82 def. Salinas, 10.755, 72.44; Foley, 3.774, 313.15 def. Ashley, 9.643, 78.92;

FINAL — Tatum, 3.700, 330.31 def. Foley, 3.806, 307.37.

Top Fuel points

  1. Mike Salinas, 256; 2. Justin Ashley, 233; 3. Steve Torrence, 209; 4. Brittany Force, 178; 5. Clay Millican, 173; 6. Tripp Tatum, 160; 7. Josh Hart, 157; 8. Doug Foley, 155; 9. Austin Prock, 146; 10. Doug Kalitta, 130.
Kris Thorne

Kris Thorne picked up his first career victory in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series on Sunday, knocking off Sidnei Frigo in the final round of the season-opening race. The event, which was presented by FTI Performance in Gainesville, was the first of 10 races during the 2022 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season.

Racing in his first career final round, Thorne went 5.642-seconds at 255.10 in his ProCharger-powered Camaro to take the win over Frigo’s 5.716 at 251.81. Thorne’s memorable day also included round wins against J.R. Gray, Lyle Barnett and defending event winner and world champ Jose Gonzalez, making a pair of runs in the 5.60s before the finals. In the championship round, Thorne had a terrific .015 reaction time and never trailed to finish off a standout Sunday.

“This is awesome. To get this moment and represent at our home track and win this thing, it means a lot,” Thorne said.

Frigo reached the final round thanks to victories against Justin Bond, Dwayne Wolfe, and Mike Thielen.

The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series returns to action on April 29-May 1 as part of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.

PRO MODIFIED results

ROUND ONE — Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.797, 249.35 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Chevy Camaro, 6.248, 171.93; Rickie Smith, Mustang, 5.797, 249.35 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 6.248, 171.93; Jerico Balduf, Chevy Chevelle, 5.802, 250.13 def. Doug Winters, Chevelle, 9.063, 110.45; Mike Thielen, Camaro, 5.833, 244.25 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 28.328, 79.40; Dwayne Wolfe, Camaro, 7.056, 218.69 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 7.412, 138.91; Lyle Barnett, Camaro, 5.740, 256.50 def. Jason Scruggs, Camaro, 6.460, 172.32; Kris Thorne, Camaro, 5.688, 254.28 def. JR Gray, Camaro, 5.723, 252.52; Sidnei Frigo, Chevelle, 5.749, 32.58 def. Justin Bond, Camaro, 5.742, 249.67; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.730, 251.39 def. Tylor Miller, Camaro, 5.716, 252.43;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Thielen, 5.839, 242.67 def. Balduf, 5.951, 246.66; Frigo, 5.712, 251.06 def. Wolfe, 8.686, 98.81; Gonzalez, 5.704, 252.00 def. Smith, 5.766, 250.83; Thorne, 5.691, 254.90 def. Barnett, Foul – Red Light;

SEMIFINALS — Frigo, 5.730, 244.83 def. M. Thielen, Broke; Thorne, 5.676, 256.06 def. Gonzalez, 6.351, 163.61;

FINAL — Thorne, 5.642, 255.10 def. Frigo, 5.716, 251.81.

Pro Modified points

  1. Kris Thorne, 110; 2. Sidnei Frigo, 90; 3. (tie) Jose Gonzalez, 70; Mike Thielen, 70; 5. (tie) Jerico Balduf, 50; Lyle Barnett, 50; Rickie Smith, 50; Dwayne Wolfe, 50; 9. (tie) Khalid alBalooshi, 30; Justin Bond, 30; Mike Castellana, 30; JR Gray, 30; Steve Jackson, 30; Tylor Miller, 30; Jason Scruggs, 30.

In Pro Stock Car, Dallas Glenn (, the reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year, got the best of his KB Racing teammate in the final round, going 6.486 at 210.21 in his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro to knock off Kyle Koretsky. It gives Glenn his fourth career victory and first this season, also giving KB Racing its first win of the year after Elite Motorsports dominated the first two races. Gainesville, though, belonged to KB Racing, as Glenn knocked off Troy Coughlin Jr., points leader Aaron Stanfield and Rodger Brogdon to reach the final round. There, he tracked down Koretsky to pick up another major victory in his young career.

“The track felt great all weekend and we felt pretty good going into raceday,” Glenn said. “The car made an absolutely beautiful run in the final. The new car is working fantastic and to knock off a win really early in the season really gets me excited for the rest of the year. You get a season under your belt and then it’s a different pressure, but we ran great on raceday, and it should be a really fun season if we can continue to run like this. But this category is so tough and it’s really awesome right now.”

Koretsky advanced to the final round for the sixth time in his career, picking up round wins against Fernando Cuadra, Camrie Caruso, and Mason McGaha. In the opening-round, four-time world champ Erica Enders made the quickest pass in Pro Stock history, going 6.450 at 213.57 in a losing effort.

PRO STOCK results

ROUND ONE — Dallas Glenn, Chevy Camaro, 6.478, 210.05 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.491, 213.10 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 12.740, 54.58; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.521, 211.49 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.492, 211.73; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.511, 212.33 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.513, 211.73; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.515, 211.86 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, Foul – Red Light; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.513, 212.33 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.450, 213.57; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.486, 212.26 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.524, 211.46; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.457, 213.47 def. Stefan Emryd, Dodge Dart, 6.607, 207.46;

QUARTERFINALS — M. McGaha, 6.522, 211.33 def. Butner, 6.622, 210.54; Brogdon, 6.515, 210.83 def. Hartford, 6.515, 211.96; Koretsky, 6.491, 212.23 def. Caruso, 6.548, 211.83; Glenn, 6.506, 210.73 def. Stanfield, 6.504, 213.43;

SEMIFINALS — Glenn, 6.502, 210.64 def. Brogdon, Foul – Red Light; Koretsky, 6.498, 212.46 def. M. McGaha, 6.539, 211.49;

FINAL — Glenn, 6.486, 210.21 def. Koretsky, 6.513, 211.46.

Pro Stock Car points

  1. Aaron Stanfield, 285; 2. Erica Enders, 225; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 218; 4. Dallas Glenn, 198; 5. Mason McGaha, 175; 6. Greg Anderson, 167; 7. (tie) Rodger Brogdon, 158; Troy Coughlin Jr., 158; 9. Deric Kramer, 144; 10. Camrie Caruso, 139.
Lenny Lottig

The Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown season kicked-off with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationalsat Gainesville Raceway with a first-time winner. Lenny Lottig rallied his ITI Trailers & Truck Bodies 2020 Chevrolet Camaro through four rounds to his first career victory in only his second final round appearance.

“It still doesn’t even feel real. It’s an over-the-top feeling,” said Lottig, who entered race day as the No. 10 qualifier. “I couldn’t do it without having all of the team, between David Barton and the people back at the shop helping me work on the car; Dave and Jesse and the whole gang. I lean on Barton, who helps me make the decisions. We went out there and just concentrated and tried to run my own game.”

In the first round, Lottig matched with Stephen Bell. Lottig would leave first to go 7.739-seconds at 175.27 mph bettering Bell’s 7.739 at 175.27 mph run. Lottig would make a single pass in the second round after his opponent, No. 2 qualifier Tripp Carter III, couldn’t make the call. Lottig would record an 8.260-second pass at 130.63 mph.

Going into the semifinals, Lottig would defeat Warren Walcher before lining up with No. 13 qualifier Anthony Troyer in the final round. Lottig would have the starting line advantage and never trail for a 7.704-second pass at 177.67 mph for the win over Troyer’s 7.731 at 177.07 mph.

“I’m confident every time I get in that car because I surround myself with good people and Dave gave me an over-the-top car,” Lottig said. “Now I didn’t think I was going to win the race this morning, I was hoping for it and it’s what we come for, but it just seems unbelievable to win a Wally. I just had to concentrate and try to run my own game.”

En route to his runner-up finish, Troyer had to defeat two-time reigning Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Champion Aaron Stanfield. In doing so, he collected the $2,000 bounty that carried over from Stanfield’s 2021 season ending back-to-back victories. Lottig will now have the $1,000 bounty heading to the NHRA Carolina Nationals. The ongoing battle between Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Ford Cobra Jets and Dodge Challenger Drag Paks will pick up the weekend of April 29-May 1 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Constant Aviation Bounty Program

$2,000 collected by Lenny Lottig, defeated Aaron Stanfield, Midwest Nationals and Las Vegas Nationals winner

Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Top Ten

  1. Lenny Lottig            112
  2. Anthony Troyer      91
  3. Warren Welcher     76
  4. David Barton          73
  5. Mark Pawuk           58
  6. Tripp Carter            57
  7. Bill Skillman            54
  8. Ricky Hord              54
  9. Aaron Stanfield      35
  10. Stephen Bell           33

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action April 1-3 with the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

story by Tim Hailey and NHRA, photos by Dwayne Culpepper and NHRA

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply