Baytown: Melanie Troxel Saturday summary

FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT RACE, TROXEL GETS INTO THE SHOW IN FINAL QUALIFYING RUN BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2006) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel narrowly escaped not qualifying for the NHRA O'Reilly Spring...

FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT RACE, TROXEL GETS INTO THE SHOW IN FINAL QUALIFYING RUN

BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2006) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel narrowly escaped not qualifying for the NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals today, until she produced a solid 4.581-second elapsed time at 326.32 mph in her last qualifying attempt at Houston Raceway.

Driving the Skull Gear/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster, Troxel claimed the No. 7 spot with that run after spending the end of each previous session out of the 16-car field. Her previous best pass was in the second round, a 5.128/192.00.

This marks the second race in a row that she has headed into the last qualifying run in a go-fast or go-home situation, and each time she has planted the car firmly in the field.

Troxel, who has reached the final round in the last four NHRA events and won once, has relied on consistency, not highlight-reel qualifying runs, to build her 73-point lead, so she is not worried heading into Sunday's final eliminations. "As long as you're in the show on Sunday, you've got a shot. I don't worry about where I'm qualified or that we only got down the track once because these Skull Gear guys really make it happen when it counts," she said.

Troxel qualified in the top half of the field only once in the 2006 season (No. 3, Phoenix), but has reached the finals in each of the first three races.

"I'd rather have rounds on race day than a good qualifying spot," the Colorado native said.

Troxel admits that she felt more pressure today than in Gainesville where she also relied on a final qualifying run to make the show. "I don't know if it's because we are staying in this No. 1 position later in the season, and building more of a points lead, but I felt more pressure to hold onto that and get in the field. You go up there and know you have to block out all of these distractions to do your job right, but it gets tougher and tougher when you come into that last session and you're the first pair of cars on the track."

Troxel depends on the Richard Hogan-led team to give her the best car. "I have such incredible confidence in these guys that I knew they would get it sorted out," she said, "but you hate being in that position for everyone involved. For the team, sponsors and everyone, you hate to wait that late to get into the field.

"They changed a lot of things heading into the last run, stuff that I'm not really privy to. I think they know I'm nervous enough as it is, so I don't think they want to tell me a bunch of unnecessary information. Whatever they do to it doesn't really matter; it's my job to get it down the track."

Troxel will face Alan Bradshaw in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

-dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Melanie Troxel , Alan Bradshaw