MELANIE TROXEL WINS HER FIRST TOP FUEL TITLE IN POMONA POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2006) - Melanie Troxel put to rests all suggestions that team orders existed at Don Schumacher Racing to when she defeated her teammate and reigning Top Fuel...
MELANIE TROXEL WINS HER FIRST TOP FUEL TITLE IN POMONA
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2006) - Melanie Troxel put to rests all suggestions that team orders existed at Don Schumacher Racing to when she defeated her teammate and reigning Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher in the second round of Top Fuel eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals. That advanced her into the semifinals and eventually into her third career final round, and ultimately rewarded her with her first Top Fuel win.
Without lane choice after qualifying No. 9 in the Skull Gear/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster, she faced No. 8 qualifier Clay Millican in the opening stanza. In a smoke-filled round for both, Troxel emerged the victor (5.318/225.22), but with a car covered with oil and damaged parts.
Quick work by the DSR crew brought her back up to the line to face Schumacher. Reaction times were nearly identical: .097 for Troxel, .101 for Schumacher. It was neck-to-neck down the entire quarter-mile, but it was Troxel first across the finish line with a winning 4.524/325.77, her quickest ET of the weekend, to Schumacher's 4.530/321.96. Margin of victory: .0103 of a second.
She dismissed Morgan Lucas in the semifinals with another stout run, a 4.553/324.12 to Lucas' 4.754/290.88.
The final round saw a match-up between Troxel and David Baca. Troxel left him in the dust at the starting light as well as at the finish stripe with a winning 4.582/321.65 to Baca's tire-smoking 8.677/91.43.
This marked Troxel's second straight final round, as she had lost to Schumacher at the NHRA Finals here in November. She also snapped "The Sarge's" string of 21-straight round wins.
"Being a runner-up (in November) is still a great finish," she said, "but we wanted to come back and change that final round a little bit. It took the winter to get everything sorted out right. The guys worked their butts back at the shop to get this car right and they did a great job.
"They're a tough [team]. They're our teammates," she said of the U.S. Army team. "They make us half the team that we are. But, we race heads-up at Don Schumacher Racing, so we went up there, did our best. We knew sooner or later we had to get a round on them and today was our day."
As for that first round: "We went out there and burned it up. A lot of times when you put things back together you run into little problems, like something wasn't put together right, and we went out and ran our best ET of the day. The guys did a great job. Don Schumacher has given me a great opportunity here. I can't say enough. We're just thrilled. This is just incredible.
"My thinking was just to go out and hopefully win a race or two in the first half of the season," she added. "I thought that that was maybe a little lofty, but I thought it was a good goal to set out here for us. Richard Hogan is a great tuner, great crew chief. He and Alan Johnson (Tony Schumacher's crew chief) work together. What can you say about being teammates with the U.S. Army team? It's incredible and the guys back at the shop, the crew guys, are what make It what it is."
"I knew what kind of driver and what kind of a person Melanie was because I had her in a car in 2000," said Schumacher. "Great person, great personality, does a great job out here, and the sport and Melanie deserved to be back out here together and I'm just tickled to be able to bring her back out and have her come out and do what she loves to do and that's win races and challenge for the championship."
Next up is the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 24-26.
Troxel is, of course, the Top Fuel points leader.