New combination boosts Scott Palmer's confidence going into O'Reilly Summer Nationals TOPEKA, Kan., May 20, 2003 - Heartland Park Topeka is a 3-hour drive from Scott Palmer's residence in the Springfield, Mo., suburb of Highlandville, but there...
New combination boosts Scott Palmer's confidence going into O'Reilly Summer Nationals
TOPEKA, Kan., May 20, 2003 - Heartland Park Topeka is a 3-hour drive from Scott Palmer's residence in the Springfield, Mo., suburb of Highlandville, but there could be quite a few of his family and friends making the trip to Topeka on this Memorial Day Weekend.
Palmer's mission is to make sure they see him compete in the O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park.
This will be the rookie Top Fuel driver's fourth NHRA POWERade Series race and he's still looking for his first berth in Sunday's 16-car field. Although it has been exasperating at times, it wasn't unexpected. Palmer and the crew of his O'Reilly Auto Parts/ACDelco/Simple Green machine have picked up a multitude of tuning ideas and some of the experience necessary to compete with the veteran teams that comprise much of the Top Fuel entry list.
"I was disappointed after our last race at Atlanta (May 4)," Palmer said of his 20th-place qualifying finish. In attempting to be competitive, he went against his racing principles and put too many new parts on the car, including a supercharger (blower).
"We didn't have a magic wand to make the motor run better," he added. "We have several tuning advisors from other teams and they were telling us we needed a new blower because we needed more power. Well, we put the blower on . . . and we did have more power, but there were too many other changes we needed to make to compensate for more horsepower and we didn't run quicker."
So Palmer and his crew regrouped. They returned to the Springfield area and made those changes, then went to Noble, Okla., and tested last week. The results, he reported, were quite positive.
"We just needed to go down the track," Palmer commented. "We made three runs to half-track and our incremental numbers were as good as we ever had. We changed the whole combination around and got it to where the car leaves the starting line harder."
He had been consistent in his first two races, running times within one-thousandth of a second of each other, 4.836 and 4.837 seconds, but they still weren't quick enough. "Running 4.80s just won't get the job done," Palmer said.
"We are excited about racing at Topeka because we do consider it our home track, and we'd like to do well here for O'Reilly's, too," he continued. "This is a short trip compared to our first three races at Houston, Bristol (Tenn.) and Atlanta. Now all we need to do is qualify."
Palmer and his Top Fuel cohorts will have four qualifying attempts, Friday at 5 and 8 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 3:30 p.m.
Palmer will be getting some encouragement from special guest Larry Phillips this weekend. Phillips' is a five-time road racing champion who already has a win here - on Heartland Park's road course.
"We're going to have our apparel trailer at the Topeka race for the first time," Palmer said. "(Funny Car driver) Bob Gilbertson (also sponsored by O'Reilly Auto Parts) and I will be selling our t-shirts and souvenir items."
Quick Look at Scott Palmer:
Born: 9/11/63 Hometown: Duncanville, Okla. Residence: Highlandville, Mo. Wife: Julie Son: Tyler (6/10/91) Career wins/final rounds: 0/0 Best elapsed time: 4.802 seconds (Ennis, Texas, 2002) Best speed: 302.89 mph (Joliet, Ill., 2, 2002) First start: St. Louis, 2002
2003 NHRA Results
O'Reilly Spring Nationals: Did not qualify Houston Best run, 4.837 seconds at 302.14 mph
Thunder Valley Nationals: Did not qualify Bristol, Tenn. Best run, 4.836 seconds at 258.67 mph
Southern Nationals: Did not qualify Atlanta Best run, 5.032 seconds at 227.19 mph