Reading: Melanie Troxel preview

Troxel has sights set on moving up in Reading MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2006) - Melanie Troxel has has her sights set on a return to the top of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel point standings following her fall to fourth place after...

Troxel has sights set on moving up in Reading

MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2006) - Melanie Troxel has has her sights set on a return to the top of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel point standings following her fall to fourth place after leading through the season's first 12 races.

As this weekend's Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway begins the final string of five events left in the season, the driver of the Skull Shine/Knoll Gas-Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster is ready to make that move.

A mid-season struggle through the heat of summer was a setback for Troxel, who is now 140 points out of the lead, held by Doug Kalitta, and just 86 markers behind her teammate Tony Schumacher, in second. Right in front of her is Brandon Bernstein, 44 points ahead. It's going to be an exciting battle to the finish.

Last year's event here was a turning point for Troxel, her seventh of 2005 after joining Don Schumacher Racing midway through the season. She earned her highest qualifying position to date, No. 5, then ended the season with two No. 2s and one No. 3 in the last three events. She hopes this weekend will mark another turnaround.

The cooler weather expected at Maple Grove could make the difference for Troxel, who's had early-round losses in the last eight events. "We have five more races and Reading is known for cool weather and quick elapsed times, so it's always a big race," she says.

"It's also one that Tommy (Johnson Jr., husband and Funny Car driver) and I look forward to coming to. There is definitely something special about Reading in the fall.

"And when you add to that the fact that we're still in the hunt for the points chase, it becomes an enjoyable race.

"We haven't really lived up to our potential lately, but we're fortunate to still have a shot at the championship. But we are really going to need to see a big change - not so much in our performance, but in the results. The Skull Shine car is running good; we just don't seem to have the outcome we're looking for.

"We know the track conditions will be great; we just need to get the job done and really make a big resurgence in order to pull ourselves a little tighter in the points and have a good shot at the title.

"Anything can happen out here. Tony (Schumacher) is running well right now, but we've seen that team struggle earlier in the year. They could stumble, but we can't worry too much about what anybody else is doing right now. We have to go out and make the most of our own opportunities. It doesn't have as much to do with what everybody else is doing as it does missed opportunities on our part."

-credit: dsr

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