Englishtown: Melanie Troxel final report

Heavy-hearted Troxel gains points with quarterfinal finish in E-Town ENGLISHTOWN, New Jersey (June 22, 2008) - Trying to put aside her feelings about the tragic loss of fellow racer Scott Kalitta on Saturday, ProCare Rx Dodge Charger driver ...

Heavy-hearted Troxel gains points with quarterfinal finish in E-Town

ENGLISHTOWN, New Jersey (June 22, 2008) - Trying to put aside her feelings about the tragic loss of fellow racer Scott Kalitta on Saturday, ProCare Rx Dodge Charger driver Melanie Troxel advanced more than a full round in the POWERade points standings with her quarterfinal finish in the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals. Coming into the weekend, Troxel was 63 points out of the top ten, but left with a 21-point boost to just 42 markers behind the all-important No. 10 spot.

Points, however, were the last thing on the mind of the entire Gotham City Racing team. Fellow driver and friend Scott Kalitta lost his life tragically during the final round of qualifying Saturday, and a heavy cloud of mourning overshadowed eliminations all day Sunday.

"Scott was a racer's racer, and we were of course thinking about him and his family and team all day long," Troxel said. "He would have wanted everybody out here racing, so I guess that brought everybody a little bit of comfort and let us try to focus on our jobs.

"Certainly it's like a family out here, so when something like this happens, it affects everybody and we all feel it. But, at some point, we're out here to do a job, and you have to do your best to kind of block some of that out. Not only your feelings of sorrow for the other teams and drivers, but concerns about yourself in the car. You can't let that kind of stuff affect you.

"Our job right now is to get this car in the top ten, and Scott would have understood that," she said.

Troxel faced veteran Jerry Tolliver in the first round of eliminations and after Tolliver rolled into the beams and staged his car very quickly, Troxel smoothly kept her composure and staged as she would normally, beating him off the line and ultimately taking the win-light by less than seven inches: 4.935/317.79 to Tolliver's 4.914/308.92.

"That was a strange situation on the starting line, Jerry pre-staged and staged right away, and I had to focus on not letting that affect my rhythm. I just went out and did my thing, and we drove away with a really close one - and it's always nice to win one like that," she said.

Second round she faced multi-world championship veteran John Force for the first time in her Funny Car career, and having been fore-warned of his unique staging-line routine, she prepared herself mentally.

"I definitely know that John has a reputation for being a slow stager, and to be honest with you, I thought I took a couple of extra seconds from what I would have normally done because I didn't want to be in there un-necessarily early.

"Even though I gave it a few extra seconds, it did feel like, from a driver's standpoint, that he took a long time, and it kind of crossed my mind like - wow, he's taking a really long time, but I re-focused myself so that I would be ready when he put it in there. It didn't really bother me, though," she said.

Despite the staging show, Troxel and Force left the line almost dead-even, but Force quickly pulled away for the win as Troxel's tires lost traction at about 250 feet.

"I know that Brian [Corradi, crew chief] is surprised that run didn't make it because everything in the data said it should have gone right down the track. We must have just had a little too much wheel speed or perhaps there was something on the track that we weren't aware of and we ended up smoking the tires.

"The good news is that we've got a good consistent car and we are really miles ahead of where we were just about five races ago, so, overall, it's really positive. It wasn't a great weekend because we would love to have more semifinal, runner-up and wins, but we made up ground on the cars that are ahead of us that are still outside the top ten," Troxel said.

Next on the schedule for Team Gotham is the Second Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, June 27-29.

-credit: gcr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Scott Kalitta , Melanie Troxel