Troxel makes Seattle field but has work to do
The first goal for any professional drag racing team when they arrive at a national event is to make the field. There are no provisionals in NHRA competition so spots have to be earned each weekend.
Melanie Troxel and the In-N-Out Burger Toyota Funny Car team worked hard to gain a foothold at this weekend's 24th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals and thanks to some expert driving by Troxel, they did manage to make the field. But no one on the team was exceptional happy with their 14th-place ranking at the end of professional qualifying.
"Everybody was really challenged by the track conditions on Friday, including us," Troxel said. "We came into Saturday a little bit nervous, not knowing if we were going to be fighting the racetrack of if we could go back to your normal tune-up.
"We're still struggling with how to get down this track. We tried something different on that last session that did not work, but we can rule that out as something we'll try tomorrow morning. Track conditions have gotten better. They fixed whatever was giving us fits on Friday. I think we'll get some good racing tomorrow."
Like many drivers in the nitro ranks, Troxel and crew found Pacific Raceways to be very tough to figure out. Three of their runs were complete throwaways, and the one they used to make the 16-car field -- a 4.238 at 303.30 mph -- required a masterful pedal job by Troxel early in the run to get the car to hook up to the track.
Nevertheless, the team has made the field and now turn the page to Sunday's elimination action where anything can happen.
"I went to that first session (Saturday) thinking that if the car showed any sign of trying to rattle the tires, I was going to do my best to catch it early and pedal it to make the best of the situation," Troxel said. "Fortunate for me, that plan worked out for us. The car did shake the tires and I pedaled it to get the number we qualified with.
"You want to qualify in the top half and run good, but sometimes when you get different conditions on Sunday, it kind of evens out the playing field a little. We expected to see more sun this weekend, especially this afternoon. Who knows what's coming tomorrow."
Troxel's first-round opponent will be No. 3 qualifier Matt Hagan, who posted a best pass of 4.117 seconds at 301.47 mph in a Dodge Charger.