Las Vegas: Melanie Troxel preview

Troxel Likes Las Vegas, Her Chances of Qualifying Simayof Jewelers Dodge Charger at The Strip at LVMS Ah, Las Vegas, where fortunes are made and lost every day, providing, of course, one frequents the many games of chance that are ...

Troxel Likes Las Vegas, Her Chances of Qualifying Simayof Jewelers Dodge Charger at The Strip at LVMS

Ah, Las Vegas, where fortunes are made and lost every day, providing, of course, one frequents the many games of chance that are available.

Melanie Troxel isn't into gambling, but the driver of the Simayof Jewelers Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car does know something about rolling the dice when it comes to race-car combinations.

Four races and several test sessions into the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series, the first-year Funny Car driver believes a competitive combination is just a few rolls (or qualifying runs, in this instance) away. She and the Gotham City Racing team have four quarter-mile laps to solidify the tune-up when qualifying action commences Friday for the ninth annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Troxel has a special affinity for the track. Her second Top Fuel victory came here in 2006. The Strip is where she successfully completed her Funny Car licensing in January and put in a number of test runs following a six-year, 86-race Top Fuel career, during which she earned four victories in 15 final rounds and series finishes of fourth (2006)and ninth (2007).

"The Las Vegas track actually has been good for both Tommy (Johnson Jr., her husband and fellow Funny Car driver) and I," said Troxel. "Obviously, it's one of the premier facilities on the tour. As drivers, that's probably one of our favorite tracks . . . and you are in Las Vegas, so it kind of makes for a great weekend all around."

Foremost, however, is a good racing surface, one that, she says, is "more forgiving for a driver than other tracks we've run on recently. For example, if the car gets out of the groove a little at Las Vegas, you don't lose the run, but (the track at) Houston was not a forgiving track. It had bumps in it and it didn't take much to upset the car.

"I feel confident that we can get the car to perform this weekend, and that we'll qualify and do well for Simayof Jewelers."

The car's mechanical brain trust of Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald has grappled with the Charger R/T's bulk. One hundred pounds was added by NHRA to all Funny Cars prior to the season. Some teams whose cars were traditionally heavier have fared well thus far. The Simayof Jewelers crew believes it is a run or two away from hitting the jackpot.

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Troxel, Johnson Plan to Turn Left, Right At Spring Mountain Ranch Driving School

Barb Troxel is a longtime Corvette devotee and her Christmas gift to Melanie and Tommy was a three-day driving school at Spring Mountain Ranch Driving School, which features Chevrolet Corvettes.

Located in Pahrump, Nev., the 3.5-mile road racing course is 45 minutes from Las Vegas. That is where they will be Monday through Wednesday -- except for Melanie's autograph appearance at Simayof Jewelers Tuesday, 4-8 p.m., at the Shoppes at the Venetian Hotel and Casino.

"Mom and Dad (the late Mike Troxel) were Corvette fans," Melanie said. "She owns a 1966 Corvette and just bought another one. She belongs to the Corvette Club in Denver. She's going through the school with us.

"I haven't done anything like this before. I took a Skip Barber (driving) School a long, long time ago, but nothing driving Corvettes. We are excited and looking forward to the experience. Mom did a good job on a Christmas gift."

-credit: gcr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Skip Barber , Melanie Troxel