Qualifying is Palmer's main goal at Southern Nationals. COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2003 - The transition from driving an alcohol-powered Funny Car to a nitromethane-fueled Top Fuel dragster hasn't been as seamless as Scott Palmer had hoped. Yet it...
Qualifying is Palmer's main goal at Southern Nationals.
COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2003 - The transition from driving an alcohol-powered Funny Car to a nitromethane-fueled Top Fuel dragster hasn't been as seamless as Scott Palmer had hoped.
Yet it hasn't been a disaster, either. Palmer's too smart to let that occur.
No, what's troubling the Highlandville, Mo., driver the most is that he wasn't able to qualify the O'Reilly Auto Parts/ACDelco/Simple Green dragster at his first two NHRA POWERade Series events. His expectations have been reasonable; it's just taken his team, primarily filled by neophyte racecar mechanics, a while to learn the ins and outs of the sport. And they're already aware of the ups and downs by now, too.
Palmer, pressed into service as the engine's bottom-end mechanic last weekend at Bristol, Tenn., wanted to have at least one new supercharger (a.k.a. blower) ready for action in the Summit Racing Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, May 2-4. A weakening blower was the culprit in his failure to qualify for the Thunder Valley Nationals last weekend at Bristol.
"We can run in the 4.80s, but 4.80s aren't good enough to qualify for the races," Palmer commented. "I expected the bump (16th position) to be about a 4.71, and that's what we needed to run. Our best was 4.836 seconds."
Given the advice to turn up the blower boost from his tuning consultants, Palmer did so.
"We had to do it to run quick enough to get in the show," Palmer continued. "I knew what to expect. When the tires began to shake and smoke, I shut it off before anything else happened."
The engine had been dropping cylinders, another malady, Palmer says, that can be caused by a weak blower.
"We dropped a cylinder on one run and two on another run," he said. "I shut them off early because I don't want to break a motor and cause an oil down."
While Palmer and his crew experiment to trim two-hundredths of a second off their elapsed times, they're also gaining experience. The only way to do that is to go down the racetracks. He's done that in six of his eight qualifying attempts. The problem, of course, is that they haven't found a solution to going quicker.
"We've been told to take the tune-up we have and back it down a bit when we get to Atlanta," Palmer said. "So that's what we'll do. We are learning, and that's very important for us."
The schooling continues at Atlanta Dragway with qualifying Friday at 4 and 7 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. Eliminations, where Palmer wants to be on Sunday, begin at 11 a.m.