SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NATIONALS:RECAP
Team Stalba had an amazing 2 weeks in Norwalk for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals and the Cavalcade of Stars Regional event in Norwalk Ohio. Building on their early season success, Karen and the guys were able to make it to the finals of the National Event, although even with the starting line advantage, Karen did not have the power to hold off Matt Cummings, who went on to win his first National Event.
Qualifying started a little rough, while Gene and Bob struggled to find wheel speed, and Karen qualified a season-low 10th for the National Event. After an exciting first round win over the very strong and successful Shawn Cowie, Karen went on to defeat Jasmine Salinas in the second round and Jackie Fricke in the semi-finals to secure her spot in the final round. The team made their quickest pass of the weekend in the final, running 5.24, but Matt's 5.20 was strong enough to get around her.
The following weekend, during the 4th of July Cavalcade of Stars Regional Event, wheelspeed was no problem. During the final qualifying pass of Saturday night, Karen ran a 5.161 elapsed time to take the number 1 spot and also set the Norwalk track record. That is four #1 qualifying positions in their 1st 6 races. Unfortunately, the glee was short lived, as Karen fell asleep on the starting line and had a poor reaction time, giving the first round win to Brandon Greco, who had a near perfect reaction time. Karen will have to wait until the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis to try to win her first national event---NO PRESSURE THERE!
The team has had several weeks off, and have been busy working to prepare the car for a busy 6 week stretch of racing. Karen and husband Tom have been busy with their kids Paul and Emily and their Junior Dragster, with the kids finding success at several races. Paul won a $2000 event at Maple Grove Raceway on 4th of July weekend, and was also the runner up in a $5000, 64 car shootout in Bristol Tennessee during the Junior Dragster Eastern Conference Finals. Emily recent won a $400 Gamblers race in Lebanon Valley, NY at the Division 1 Junior Dragster Division Finals. Looking to keep up their success, the entire family will be racing at New England Dragway the weekend of August 20-21 for the Division 1 Regional/Divisional event. For more information and additional photos, check us out on Facebook at Stalba Motorsports and be sure to follow Karen on Instagram @karenstalba.
Stalba and Team Earn their 3rd Consecutive #1 Qualifier in Charlotte, Advance to First Final of the Season in a spectacular 4-WIDE Top Alcohol Dragster Final.
Headed into Charlotte for the NGK/NTK Performance 4-Wide Nationals, Karen was a little hesitant of racing in the Top Alcohol Dragster class 4-wide instead of the regular side by side pairings. Qualifying Friday actually went smoother than imagined, and the team ran 5.20 then 5.18 to end up Fridays session as the #3 Qualifier. It was a little strange at first to be trying to focus on which staging beams to be looking at when she was in lanes 2 and 3, but Karen found a groove on the tree and got better and better each run, as did the guys with their turnaround and tune-up.
Saturday, Mean Gene Gallant turned up the wick and Karen ran a career best of 5.147 seconds at 281 mph. The team marched right up to the top of the ladder again, for their 3rd #1 spot of the season. Since there were only 15 Dragsters in the field, the Quad Karen was in was actually only three cars, and the first two to the finish line would advance to the Semi-final round. Karen was first to the finish line running a 5.21. The semi-final round saw Karen match up with Rachel Meyer, James Stevens and Robin Samsel. Karen one again made a stellar run, 5.154 with a career best 282.07 mph. Karen also was first off the starting line and advanced along with Rachel to the final round.
Final round quad had 4 of the quickest cars of the weekend. Karen once again was out of the gate first, with an impressive .048 reaction time, however her 5.19 was not enough to keep a charging Meyer from getting around her. Rachel's 5.14 was her career best, and she got the event win at her sponsor's event. Karen and the team were runner up based on Karen's reaction time helping her reach the finish line first with her 5.19 pass. Karen and the team are very close to getting that elusive first National Event win!
Next up: Maple Grove Raceway on Memorial Day weekend for the NHRA Division 1 Regional Event. Qualifying is Friday afternoon, 3 sessions and Eliminations are Saturday. Check out the webstore to buy your Karen Stalba t-shirt or come by the trailer, there will be a good supply available and come say hi to the team!
Another #1 Qualifier, Another Semi-Final Appearance for Karen Stalba in Top Alcohol Dragster in the final running of the NHRA Atlanta Southern Nationals.
Karen and the team had a hot car in "Hotlanta," qualifying #1 for the 2nd Consecutive National Event, making it 2 out of 3 events so far this year starting from the #1 spot. A mechanical failure would ultimately lead to a semi-final finish to Rich McPhillips Jr, who went on to win the event for his first ever National Event win. Karen ran another 5.172 to claim the top spot, and had low ET and High MPH for the event.
Gainesville Road Trip a Success for Team Stalba
After a busy few months in the shop, the new Stalba Motorsports A/Fuel team made their debut in Gainesville, Florida, in March. The first weekend was the "Baby Gators", which is also know as the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Regional event. After a few shakedown runs to get comfortable again, Karen and the team were able to qualify in the #3 spot out of the 14 Dragsters on the property. Karen made a driver error in Elimination Round 1, and the team made an early exit from the Baby Gators.
The following weekend was the NHRA Gatornationals. 18 Dragsters were on the property and Karen and the guys powered their way to the #1 Qualifier spot with career best numbers for Karen - 5.172 Seconds at 280mph in the 1/4 mile. Karen would ultimately bow out in the Semi-Final round against Rachel Meyer, who went on to win the event. Considering Karen had not driven in the Top Alcohol Dragster category in almost 3 years, the team was really excited with the results and are really looking forward to a successful season. Thanks to Gene Gallant, Bob Smullen, Erick Cindrich, and of course Dad, Tom Benkovich. Special thanks to husband, Tom, and the kids for holding down the fort while Karen was away for almost 2 weeks!
Next up, both Karen and husband Tom will be racing at the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta. This will be the final National event for Atlanta, for they are closing. In 2004 and 2005, Karen raced her way to the finals at this event, but fell short each time. She is hoping this is the year she gets the win. Husband Tom won his first ever national event in Atlanta, so he is hoping for big success in his final year there as well!
Keep your eyes out! New Karen Stalba T-Shirts are in production and should be available here soon!
Karen Stalba Set to Return to Top Alcohol Dragster Class in 2021 Click on link to read more from the NHRA Website