Recent uptick has In-N-Out Burger driver Troxel fired-up for Phoenix

Melanie Troxel
Melanie Troxel

Photo by: Ted Rossino

PHOENIX (Oct. 10) -- Funny Car star Melanie Troxel returns to Firebird International Raceway for the 27th annual Arizona NHRA Nationals intent on disrupting the Countdown dreams of as many drivers as possible as she searches for her first victory of the season in the In-N-Out Burger Toyota Solara.

It's not just wishful thinking for the only female racer in history with victories in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. In fact, Troxel's last four races have proven beyond a doubt that she has the horsepower to crush lots of championship dreams.

"We've run with the best of them here lately," Troxel said, referring to recent triumphs over Countdown to the Championship drivers Jack Beckman, Robert Hight and Matt Hagan. "I think we've reached a point where no one is particularly happy when they see us in the staging lanes and that's a good thing.

"No matter the situation, we just want to win a race or two before the year is over. We've got three more chances -- all taking place in big In-N-Out markets -- and we're hopeful we can get it done. It would sure mean a lot to all of us on this race team."

Troxel's surge has been impressive. She qualified in the top half of the field in Brainerd, Indy and Charlotte, nearly taking the pole outright at the U.S. Nationals before settling for the No. 2 slot, and had a strong semifinal run on a tricky Dallas racetrack where she eliminated both the current points leader (Hagan) and the series' most recent winner (Hight).

"Aaron Brooks and John Medlen work so well together on tuning this car and getting the power curve to match the conditions," Troxel said. "It's a great feeling as a driver to have a racecar you know will get down the track and put up a good number. It allows you to concentrate fully on what you need to do as a driver to have a perfect pass.

"I continue to be amazed at the work ethic and desire of the In-N-Out crew. Sometimes as a driver you feel like you need to pump up your guys but these guys pump me up every day with their attitude.

"I really feel as though we're just hitting our stride and heading into Arizona, Vegas and Pomona should offer us a chance for a great stretch run."

Funny Car qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 and 4:30 p.m., Friday, and 12 and 2:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. All action will be covered by ESPN2.