Reading: Melanie Troxel makes start in sponsor's hometown

Littleton, Colo. (Sept. 11): After making her Exide Batteries Top Fuel debut at the U.S. Nationals with an impressive semifinal appearance, Melanie Troxel will take her 320-mph dragster to Exide's home in Reading, Pennsylvania for her first Top...

Littleton, Colo. (Sept. 11): After making her Exide Batteries Top Fuel debut at the U.S. Nationals with an impressive semifinal appearance, Melanie Troxel will take her 320-mph dragster to Exide's home in Reading, Pennsylvania for her first Top Fuel run at the 16th Annual Keystone Nationals.

The Colorado native will be making her second start as the driver of the Don Schumacher Racing-owned dragster and as teammate to 1999 Winston Top Fuel Champion, Tony Schumacher. Troxel's dragster is tuned by crew chief Dan Olson with the help of Tim and Kim Richards, who joined the team at Indy.

"We have a lot of good people working on this car," said Troxel, "we are not out here to block for Tony (Schumacher). We want to win some races before the end of the year."

Team owner Don Schumacher reinforced that by saying, "There are no team orders. If Tony and Melanie would have met in the finals at Indy, they would have raced for it. 'There is no A or B team."

Troxel, who was sidelined most of the year without a sponsor, feels right at home back in the seat of her Exide dragster. "Once you get a few passes in," said Troxel, "it all comes back. Every crew chief has a little different routine and it was just a matter of getting to know how Dan (Olson) runs his cars."

Troxel had attended most of the races this year and became a regular in the broadcast booth as a color commentator. "It was fun working with Bob Frey and the guys in the tower," Troxel commented, "but any driver would rather be in a race car."

"I have had a lot of support from the fans, now that I am back racing," she added.

Qualifying for the Keystone Nationals is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16. Final eliminations are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16. ESPN2 will televise the 16th Annual Keystone Nationals. Check local listings for times.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Melanie Troxel , Don Schumacher