O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals
Treble runs out of time in Houston
Houston, Sunday: After using all of the pre-race qualifying sessions searching for a problem on the Matco Tools Suzuki, Craig Treble came to the starting line Sunday morning with a strong motorcycle, but little tuning data needed to make a winning run.
"We chased a problem on this bike all weekend, and by the time we found it, it was time for eliminations," said Treble. "Without a Sunday tune-up it was a shot in the dark, and we actually overpowered the racetrack in the first round against Karen [Stoffer]."
The 7.224 at 187.81 from the Matco Tools bike was off slightly from the team's best qualifying run of 7.193, which disguised the fact it was the best of the weekend from the Treble bike.
"We just blew the tire away on the starting line," Treble said. "My reaction time and 60-foot numbers suffered, but on the back-half of the track we were flying."
Stoffer advanced to the finals of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, winning her first professional event in Pro Stock Bike.
"I am really happy for both Karen and Gary Stoffer," Treble said. "My wife and I were at the finish line interview area to celebrate with her immediately after her win, and congratulate her for a job well done. We are all old NHRA Division 7 sportsman racers, and seeing her get her first win was special.
"We have a great bike here, but it is still a relatively new piece. It is a caged animal; we just need to keep looking for the key."
Houston track record set again Saturday
Houston, Saturday: For the second day in a row the NHRA Pro Stock Bikes reset the Houston Raceway Park Elapsed Time record, but none came anywhere near to the speeds many had anticipated.
Craig Treble put the Matco Tools Suzuki in the No. 13 position at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals in Houston, pairing him with longtime friend and fellow NHRA Division 7 champion Karen Stoffer in Sunday's final eliminations.
"Karen ripped off a good one on the last run, so we are going to be staying up late and put in some extra work on the Matco Tools bike tonight," he said. "We are off on our tune-up right now, but we will keep plugging away and hopefully get this motorcycle to move like it should. This bike is a monster and it will haul, but today for some reason it didn't. We have some homework to do tonight."
Houston track records fall in Friday qualifying
Houston, Friday: The NHRA Pro Stock Bikes and Cars gave the local racing fans their money's worth during Friday qualifying, resetting the track elapsed time records for each class at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals.
The much-anticipated night session yielded only a handful of runs that were any better than the afternoon qualifying run, a surprise to fans and riders alike.
"All of the pieces looked to be in place for a new NHRA national record to be set, we even had a slight tail-wind during the late session," rider Craig Treble said. "There was a new track record set, but it wasn't the full-scale assault we thought we might see tonight."
Treble will attempt two more qualifying sessions Saturday with the Matco Tools Pro Stock Suzuki, focusing fully on qualifying for the competitive 16-bike field, and Sunday morning eliminations.
"There still may be another track record set before qualifying is finished, but now the point is to get ready for Sunday morning," Treble said.
Records may tumble this weekend in Houston
Houston, pre-race: Like every other event on the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Bike tour, Craig Treble comes prepared to achieve a goal and take home the prize. But sometimes there is more than one goal at stake.
At this weekend's running of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals the stage is set for the possibility of breaking the NHRA Pro Stock Bike seven-second barrier, a record that every NHRA Pro Stock Bike rider would love too have.
"With the new track surface at Houston Raceway Park, the near sea-level altitude, and the cool weather expected this weekend, you might not only see the NHRA national record of 7.049 go down, but maybe the Mickey Thompson Six-Second Pro Stock Bike Club get its first member," said Treble, referring to the performance based club that will award $10,000 to the first rider to make a six-second run.
Widespread speculation throughout the Pro Stock Bike fraternity is that if any of the records are in jeopardy, it will be during the Friday night qualifying session.
"Everyone will be thinking about that Friday night session," Treble said. "It will be the second qualifying run of the day, which makes the early Friday run very important also. Any team that gets a solid run on the first hit will be at an advantage for Friday night."
In the past few years, Houston Raceway Park has been good to the Matco Tools Pro Stock Bike team. A win in 2002 and a second place in 2003 proves that Treble can be a contender in Texas. But can he be the one to start the corks popping on the Mickey Thompson bottles of champagne?
"We will certainly give it all we have in Houston Friday night," said Treble. "Our team has put in plenty of time working out the bugs since the last NHRA National event. We stayed over in Gainesville and did some testing, and that helped us step up our performance level right away. We also tested in Memphis the following weekend, and again we learned more about what the Matco Tools bike needs to run fast."
The Matco Tools team will attempt to use their newfound knowledge, along with some Vance & Hines horsepower to be in position to capitalize on what my be the best racing conditions the Pro Stock Bikes may see in 2004.
"We spent some time freshening up our engines at the Vance & Hines shop in Indianapolis," Treble said. "I think we have the power to run quick, so we just need to get the right weather this weekend for things to all fall in place."
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