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