Gainesville: Melanie Troxel preview

Top Fuel points leader Troxel faces new challenges in Gainesville GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2006) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel has new challenges to face this weekend at the NHRA Gatornationals at...

Top Fuel points leader Troxel faces new challenges in Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2006) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel has new challenges to face this weekend at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway as she and the Skull Gear/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel team aim to maintain her place atop the point standings.

Instead of leading by 39 points after winning the season opener in Pomona, Calif., and scoring a runner-up finish at the last event in Phoenix, she leads by just 14 following a 25-point penalty for two oildowns during eliminations in Arizona. The team cannot afford any additional penalties, as it takes 25 consecutive clean qualifying and eliminations runs to earn an oildown "freebie." The team had already used up its first "freebie" of the season at Pomona when the engine was damaged in Troxel's opening-round win over Clay Millican. Troxel has so far banked two clean runs towards another "freebie" by reaching the final round in Phoenix following her quarterfinal (and second of eliminations) oildown.

The Colorado native in her first full season of Top Fuel competition has also never competed at the famed Gainesville Raceway. Add to the mix a new Goodyear tire specified by NHRA to be used here and you've got a recipe for concern.

"I'm definitely thrilled with our performance so far this season, to still be leading the points after the second race, and having a win out of the way," she says. "It has all been great, but now it's kind of settling into the normal part of the year and we need to have a strategy. We can't go out and lose 25 points like we did last race with the oildowns. We'd have a pretty sizable lead for this time of the year if we hadn't lost those points.

"We're really just trying to focus now on making sure we don't make any mistakes. We stayed after Phoenix and tested with the new tire and we feel pretty good about it, but you never know what's going to happen until you get out there.

"I have never actually raced at Gainesville, so it will be a whole new experience for me. Gainesville is such a great track. This race always has such a good turnout, it's an exciting event in itself, and we know the track is capable of putting out some great times. I think the big variable is the tire right now, and seeing whether we've got a good enough handle on it so that we can get after it."

-dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Melanie Troxel