Troxel Getting Comfortable in ProCare Rx Dodge; Performance Improving with Each Race Her best elapsed time of the season that was No. 1 on Friday, three competitive 4.8-second qualifying runs and a second consecutive strong ...
Troxel Getting Comfortable in ProCare Rx Dodge; Performance Improving with Each Race
Her best elapsed time of the season that was No. 1 on Friday, three competitive 4.8-second qualifying runs and a second consecutive strong on-track performance brought a sigh of relief to Melanie Troxel and every Gotham City Racing team member at St. Louis.
The task now at hand is to continue building the success into round wins and, eventually, that coveted race victory. Both appear to be fast-approaching.
Her next step toward achieving those goals is the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals, May 16-18, at Bristol, Tenn. She was low qualifier in Top Fuel at the track in 2006, one of three in the dragster category.
"It is getting easier every week," said Troxel, the Funny Car rookie driver from Avon, Ind. "We are running well. I'm feeling more comfortable in the car, and I'm back having fun driving the car."
Troxel's quickest ride of 4.802 seconds in the ProCare Rx Dodge Charger R/T came in Friday qualifying at St. Louis (May 2) and was quickest of the day. She gave eventual race runner-up Mike Neff a good run for the first-round win that faltered when her car's engine expired before the finish line.
Moreover, Troxel says, "We have made huge gains over the last few weeks. It may not look like it to somebody on the outside, but within the team we can see that we are getting a better handle on the tune-up. I feel more comfortable with every pass I make in the car.
"We are all excited to get to Bristol to see what we can do. We know we have a competitive race car again."
The decision of Mike Ashley, team co-owner with Roger Burgess, to drive the Lend America/Gotham City Racing Dodge Charger R/T for five races also had a positive effect. Ashley was the qualifying surprise, vaulting into the No. 2 qualifying spot with a 4.768-second run in only his second Funny Car race of the season. He recovered from an early traction problem to win his first round before he too, lost to Neff.
"The point of a two-car team is to get as much data as possible," Troxel said. "We weren't utilizing that car as much earlier in the year. We have both cars running similarly. "Funny car is an incredibly tough class. I knew when I switched from Top Fuel that there would be weekends we wouldn't qualify. Everybody in the top 10 last year had at least one race where they didn't qualify.
"We went through a set of races where we didn't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we feel a lot better now," Troxel continued. " Everything is jelling really well. This is a close group of good people and having Mike back in the other car is definitely a good thing for the team. He has that special chemistry he brings to the team."