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Wed, 10 Sep 2003, 10:57 AM

Stoffer wants to Go One Better at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2003 Auto Imagery, Inc.

MOHNTON, Pa.-- Karen Stoffer knows how to make an entrance.

The Minden, Nev. Pro Stock Bike rider didn't make an appearance in NHRA POWERade competition for four years until the tail end of the 2002 season. When she did, she made good use of her time.

Karen Stoffer
In just her second race of the '02 campaign, Stoffer advanced to the final round in Reading, Pa., facing Angelle Savoie. It was just the second time in NHRA history that two females faced off in the final round of pro competition. Shirley Muldowney and Lucille Lee faced each other in 1982 in Columbus, Ohio for the first all-female final. Savoie came away with the Reading victory, but it wasn't a bad way for Stoffer to remind everyone that she was looking to be competitive from the start.

"Of course I would want to have the same situation go on this year, but with a different outcome at the end," Stoffer said. "It doesn't seem like an entire year has gone by. It has been quite an adventure. Every race that goes by we expect to do better."

Stoffer and the Royal Purple Suzuki team will be back at Maple Grove Raceway for the 19th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Sept. 11-14. Doug Kalitta, Tony Pedregon, Jim Yates and Savoie are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race, the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Stoffer locked up her new sponsor and made the decision to run her first full season of POWERade Pro Stock Bike events during the offseason. Stoffer picked a tough season to make an attempt to win races. The first 11 Pro Stock Bike events have seen seven different riders holding the winner's trophy - including first-time winners Fred Collis, Blaine Hale and Reggie Showers.

"This season has been a whirlwind of ups and downs," Stoffer said. "You have to be lucky and skilled enough just to qualify. Everyone out here is competitive. You see the best in everyone in qualifying. We are trying to get to the point where we have fewer valleys and more peaks in our performance.

Stoffer has seen some performance improvements including a runner-up to Collis at the Columbus, Ohio event in June.

"We have a great sponsor in having Royal Purple on board with us and hopefully we can be a little more aggressive out on the track and become a more consistent team," she said. "We want to go back to Reading and do even better than last year."

Along with the runner-up effort, Stoffer has earned two semifinal appearances. She had just six races on her resume before the '03 campaign started and is hoping the experience she gains every weekend will start paying off in trophies.

"I think we just need some more seat time to become more consistent," Stoffer said. "We still have a very good shot at winning this season. I'm new to Pro Stock Bike competition and we just need some more seat time. The team is jelling together very well and we are learning and getting better."

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