Commerce: Melanie Troxel final summary

MELANIE TROXEL STILL HOT, LANDS IN SIXTH FINAL ROUND OF YEAR COMMERCE, Ga. (May 7, 2006) - Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel landed in her sixth final round of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series today at the Summit Racing Equipment...

MELANIE TROXEL STILL HOT, LANDS IN SIXTH FINAL ROUND OF YEAR

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 7, 2006) - Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel landed in her sixth final round of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series today at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Troxel was defeated by Doug Kalitta in the final round under some of the best track conditions one could ask for following a four-hour-plus rain delay before the start of eliminations. Kalitta's outstanding reaction time of .033 of a second (.000 is perfect), to Troxel's .078, and 4.469-second elapsed time at 327.59 mph would have been tough to beat, but not impossible, even if Troxel's Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster did not lose traction at about the 60-ft. mark, resulting in a 7.234-second ET at 133.55 mph.

There was little disappointment in the Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuel pits, as Troxel erased last weekend's second-round red-light in Bristol, Tenn., out of her mind, and now leads Doug Kalitta by 132 points. She actually lost some ground in the standings, as she was leading Dave Grubnic, who went out in the first round today, by 139 points entering this event.

No. 4 qualifier Troxel displayed her usual moxie en route to the final, first by defeating Bob Vandergriff Jr. with a 4.513/326.63, then Hillary Will with a 4.496/331.04 (her career top speed), then disposed of Morgan Lucas with a 4.514/318.54.

"It was certainly not a bad weekend at all," said the 33-year-old Colorado native. "We had a little bump in the road last race, so on some level it's just nice to come back out, get a few passes in and get back into our normal groove.

"You're always a little disappointed not to win the race, but we can't complain about another final round. We're happy with how we ran and there's not much you can do when the guy in the other lane goes out and puts down a 4.469-second ET. We would have had to put down a big number (to win) and we may or may not have had that for him. But we tried our best to go out there and put down a number like that.

"With a .033 light (reaction time) that Dougie had, he was taking his best shot, so we're still happy. We're doing well, holding on to our points lead and that's the game plan: just go out and consistently go rounds."

Troxel nearly earned household bragging rights in the second round when she recorded her career-best speed of 331.04 mph, just .041 of a mile-per-hour short of bettering her husband (and Funny Car driver) Tommy Johnson Jr.'s top speed of 331.45 mph. "I saw that 331 pop up on the time slip," she said, "and thought, Oh, I bet I got him a little nervous there. That kind of surprised me. These conditions out here were not typically what you expect in Atlanta and the car hadn't run that hard and strong down the track for a while, so that kind of caught me off guard.

"The car was running great. In the semis it got out of the groove, but even as messed up as that run was, it still ran a 4.51, so that would have been a mid- to high-.40 had it gone straight down the track and in the groove.

"Richard (Hogan, crew chief) is doing a great job with the tune-up and the Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels guys are consistent as ever. It's business as usual."

Said Hogan: "I didn't expect it to smoke the tires, but it did. I missed it. If you're running that good it's just a fine line. When you're running that good you can miss it and smoke the tires and if you miss it the other way, then you're too slow. Running in the .40s is hard to do anytime, and when conditions change and you have a cold track and it gets later (it's tougher). We haven't been in conditions like this for quite a while where we could run this good, so it's almost like starting over again."

Next up is the NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, May 19-21.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Bob Vandergriff , Tommy Johnson Jr.