Stoffer and the GEICO team look to continue the solid performance in Monday’s eliminations, where she faces Gerald Savoie in the first round. Her pass of 6.940 seconds at 192.11 mph was No. 1 in the final session until Andrew Hines and Matt Smith eclipsed her elapsed time.
Still, it was a sign of a return to speed she and the GEICO team have had for most of the season until a series of unfortunate engine problems five races ago.
“Sitting in No. 3 going into tomorrow, I feel good,” Stoffer said. “It’s going to be a totally crazy day tomorrow. The weather’s going to be even more different than going from yesterday to today. I think you’re probably going to see a lot of crazy upsets and different things, but all in all, we’ve got our bike back. We’re back into the rhythm that we had as far as qualifying. We’re back up to the top where we were at the beginning of the year. I feel confident going into Monday.”
Stoffer, second in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, had won at least two rounds in each of the first four races, reaching three final rounds. But then an engine problem in Norwalk, Ohio, followed by another in Chicago the next race, put the GEICO team behind.
Stoffer won in Denver with a high-altitude engine that is different from other engines at the GEICO team’s disposal. But at Sonoma and Brainerd, Stoffer qualified lower than fourth for both races – the first times all season that’s happened.
At Indy, Stoffer and the team continued to work on their tune-up and engine combinations, and Gary Stoffer installed the backup for Q5. Stoffer had to wait for two rain delays during the session, but she posted her best tome of the weekend.
“We were 20th coming into the day and ended up in the No. 3 spot,” Stoffer said. “Gary knew if he put in our backup motor that it was going to do well. Sitting there in the staging lanes, we were going back and forth, going on, taking off, going on, taking off because of the rain delays. What happened is the weather came even more to our tune-up. The bikes got faster and faster at the end.”
Stoffer has qualified fourth or better seven times in 2011, winning once, reaching the finals three times and the semifinals once in those races.
“Struggling the way we did, we lost a lot of points,” Stoffer said of the first four Indy sessions. “We couldn’t make a lot of incremental points off of qualifying for this. But the fact of the matter is, we got that GEICO Powersports Suzuki going down the track fast.
“We put it in the No. 1 spot and held it for one pass. Then the two bikes behind us got that first place away from us. But that’s OK, because if you look back in the year, two, three, four were good spots for us.”