Joliet: Melanie Troxel preview

TOP FUEL POINTS LEADER TROXEL SAYS SHE AND SKULL SHINE TEAM NEED TO STEP UP JOLIET, Ill. (June 7, 2006) - Melanie Troxel has led the Top Fuel point standings from the beginning of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and, as the CARQUEST...

TOP FUEL POINTS LEADER TROXEL SAYS SHE AND SKULL SHINE TEAM NEED TO STEP UP

JOLIET, Ill. (June 7, 2006) - Melanie Troxel has led the Top Fuel point standings from the beginning of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and, as the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals, round 10 of a long 23-event season, unfolds this weekend at Route 66 Raceway, the driver of the Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster says she and the team need to step it up to maintain that spot.

With Doug Kalitta coming on strong at the last four events, winning three of them, Troxel's margin, which had been as high as 156 points in a season in which she's reached six final rounds and won twice so far, has dwindled to 96.

Troxel, who has not yet lost a first round in eliminations this year, has qualified No. 1 two times and enjoys a 23-7 round-win record, is well aware that nothing in NHRA drag racing is a given. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. Weather conditions, tune-up, mindset and even minor (or major) mechanical glitches can change the complexion of one race weekend's results.

"We talked all year long about the consistency of going rounds and that definitely is still a big part of our game plan," she says. "But Dougie is coming on quick, so we're going to have to find some way to step up our program a little bit here in the near future.

"It may be enough to just go out and be consistent and they may go out early in a race or so, but we certainly can't rely on that. Right now, it's looking like they have a pretty hot combination and we need to really be on top of our game and at the very least not lose any more of our points lead to them."

But, is Kalitta her only concern? "You have to be concerned about everybody out there," adds the 33-year-old Colorado native. "We're definitely hitting that time of the year when the weather is changing and you never know who is going to have a good handle on their setup. Certainly Brandon Bernstein (in third, 140 points behind) looked pretty good last weekend (runner-up in Topeka, Kans.), and he would be another one right up there at the top of the list.

"We're not taking anybody for granted."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein