TROXEL GOES TO HER THIRD STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND, MAINTAINS POINTS LEAD CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) - Despite a loss of 25 points for two oildowns today, Melanie Troxel held on to her Top Fuel points lead after reaching her third straight final...
TROXEL GOES TO HER THIRD STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND, MAINTAINS POINTS LEAD
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) - Despite a loss of 25 points for two oildowns today, Melanie Troxel held on to her Top Fuel points lead after reaching her third straight final round, and second consecutive in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Troxel and the Skull Gear/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster overcame a huge engine explosion in the first round of eliminations for the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals to send packing UPS driver Bob Vandergriff, and then another, more minor oildown to defeat David Grubnic in the second round.
The semifinal round saw Larry Dixon fall to Troxel when both cars lost traction and Troxel recovered first to take the win with a 5.358/243.99 lap to Dixon's losing 5.674/297.88.
It looked like it might turn into another Troxel vs. Schumacher final round (Troxel lost to Schumacher at the 2005 NHRA Finals in Pomona), but Schumacher faltered in the semifinals, handing the win to Rod Fuller.
In the final round, Troxel trailed Fuller at the starting lights by .023 of a second, as both cars took off down the quarter-mile in close formation. But back-to-back wins were not in the cards today for the red-hot Troxel, as she lost by .0499 of a second to Fuller (4.563/321.42 for Fuller, 4.589/318.92 for Troxel).
Troxel was not upset with the loss as she eyes the bigger picture. "It's a little bit of a disappointment not winning the race," she said, "but I feel really good that we have a very consistent race car. We're going rounds, and I think that is important. You have to win some races along the way, but you have to be consistent and go rounds if you are going to compete for a championship."
With 183 points, Troxel, who left after winning Pomona with a 20-point lead while Fuller lost in the second round there, maintains her lead over second-place Fuller by 14 points.
The loss of 25 points hurts, she admits, but she is not placing any blame. "It's not anybody's mistake," she said. "It's just a product of the rev limiter the NHRA has put on these cars. When you get into that rev limiter a lot, it drops so many holes (cylinders) that the engine tends to blow up. It's kind of a product of the way we run the car and the way it interacts with the rev limiter. It's definitely something we'll have to stay on top of because we can't afford to keep doing that; it could add up."
Sunday's finals at Firebird International Raceway had an interesting spin, as Troxel's husband Tommy Johnson, Jr. won his first Funny Car race of the 2006 season, matching Troxel's number of wins for the year.
"I didn't want to watch it," she said of his final-round race, which took place in front of her as she waited for her final round. "I didn't want to get distracted. But, I couldn't resist, so I peaked and watched. I saw him win, then I closed my eyes real quick and kept focusing on what we were doing. That was one distraction I couldn't resist. There's plenty of season left. We both would like to win in the same race. That would be really cool."
Troxel heads for the third race of the season, the ACDelco NHRA Nationals in Gainesville, Fla., on March 16-19 with an upbeat attitude. "The Skull Gear guys are doing a great job. With all the parts we have been going through and tearing stuff up, to be where we are is awesome. It's pretty impressive. We all have really high morale, and we are very excited for the Gatornationals."