TROXEL IS RUNNER-UP TO CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING TEAMMATE SCHUMACHER IN POMONA Ends 2006 season fourth in Top Fuel points POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2006) - Melanie Troxel had her sights set on her second 2006 national-event win at the Auto Club...
TROXEL IS RUNNER-UP TO CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING TEAMMATE SCHUMACHER IN POMONA
Ends 2006 season fourth in Top Fuel points
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2006) - Melanie Troxel had her sights set on her second 2006 national-event win at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona today, but instead played a huge part in her teammate Tony Schumacher's capturing his fourth Top Fuel championship.
Troxel drove the Skull Shine/Knoll Gas-Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster to her ninth final-round appearance of the season today in a repeat match-up of last year's final round here at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. She lost this time, too, to Schumacher, but, in doing so, gave Schumacher a chance to claim the championship by winning the event and setting a national elapsed-time record to make it happen.
Consistency was the key today, as Troxel established a string of strong passes, including a 4.553-second lap at 323.66 mph in her win over Steve Torrence, a 4.521/329.02 victory over Morgan Lucas, and a very important triumph over points leader Doug Kalitta in the semifinal on a holeshot advantage, when she posted a spectacular .026 of-a-second reaction time (.000 is perfect) to oust her teammate's rival for the crown. She grabbed that win with a 4.502/330.07 to Kalitta's losing 4.500/330.23.
Her stellar reaction times continued into the final round, where she launched with a .010 of-a-second advantage to Schumacher, but came up short at the finish line with a 4.585/308.50 lap to her teammate's winning and national-record-setting 4.428-second pass at 327.98 mph.
"This Pomona track has been great to us. Last three races I've been here, I've been in the finals," said Troxel. "It's always disappointing to lose, whether it's the first round or the final round, but making it all the way to the final round is definitely not a bad way to finish off the season.
"We had a very consistent car all the way through qualifying and on race day, and unfortunately we dropped a cylinder early in the final round and it ended up kicking the rods out of it. We think it's just a mechanical failure somewhere in the car that we haven't actually found yet. You'll have those problems. I don't think that we're all that disappointed with the end result.
"We want the best for Tony and the U.S. Army team, but we wanted to win that race. You really can't take anything away from them. The Army team went out and absolutely made that happen. They earned that championship, did everything they needed to do today to get it. They were pretty spectacular and we're happy for them."
Eliminating Kalitta was rewarding. "We're out here to race," Troxel explained. "We struggled a little bit early, but we've said for a while that we needed consistency, and the car was coming back around. We just weren't getting the end result. Fortunately, for us today, everything was working well. A lot of times the driver's on and the car has a problem, or the car's on and the driver has a problem. Today we just seemed to work really well together. It's a nice way to finish off the season."
As for earning fourth place after leading through the first 12 events of her first full season in Top Fuel: "I've said this before," she said. "I'd be lying if I didn't tell you we were a little disappointed that we didn't maintain the performance we had earlier in the year and weren't a factor ourselves in the championship, and didn't have a shot at that championship, but we're definitely happy with fourth place in my first full season in Top Fuel. There was the potential coming into this race to lose that position, so we held on to it, we ran a great race, and we'll just try to improve on that next year."
Troxel ends the season fourth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points rankings, with two wins, seven runners-up, and seven quarterfinal finishes, and a round win-loss record of 36-21.
Career-wise, Troxel has two wins, nine runners-up, five semifinal and 22 quarterfinal finishes, qualified No. 1 twice, and holds a career 67-58 win record.