Pomona: Sunday final eliminations report

TROXEL BECOMES SIXTH WOMAN TO WIN IN NHRA TOP FUEL Hight and Anderson also win CARQUEST Winternationals POMONA, Calif. -- Melanie Troxel became just the sixth woman in NHRA history to win a Top Fuel event Sunday by racing to victory at ...

TROXEL BECOMES SIXTH WOMAN TO WIN IN NHRA TOP FUEL
Hight and Anderson also win CARQUEST Winternationals

POMONA, Calif. -- Melanie Troxel became just the sixth woman in NHRA history to win a Top Fuel event Sunday by racing to victory at the season-opening CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.

Funny Car sophomore Robert Hight and three-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson also scored big wins at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, assuming the POWERade Series points lead in their respective categories. The $2 million race is the first of 23 in the 2006 POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Eighteen years after her world champion father Mike Troxel won this event in his family-owned Top Alcohol dragster, Melanie returned to Pomona's famed winner's circle in her Don Schumacher-owned dragster and became just the eighth female to win in a professional category.

"It gets media attention to say I'm the 'Xth' number female to win a race, but those of us in the NHRA know that it's no big deal because we've had lots of female winners, especially when you compare us to all the other motor sports," Troxel said. "I'm thrilled there were women before me to pave the way but really we just want to be the best team out here, regardless of me being female."

The final round was her easiest of the day as she streaked away from David Baca, whose Mach 1 dragster lost traction, to clinch the trophy with a 4.582-second run at 321.65 mph. She proved herself worthy of the win as the day progressed, beating Clay Millican in the first round, three-time NHRA POWERade world champion Tony Schumacher, and red-hot Morgan Lucas.

Hight's third career win was a struggle from the start in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. He didn't make the elimination field until the final qualifying session. Then he had to overcome a huge second-round engine explosion that ruined his primary body and an accidental discharge of his fire bottles just to make it through the day and reach the finals, which ended with a photo finish final round victory over Ron Capps.

"We did have a few bad luck things happen today but my team came through like professionals," Hight said. "It was lucky for us that John (Force) and Eric (Medlen, teammates) lost early because their crew guys came over and helped us. If they hadn't we wouldn't have made it up there for the semifinals. Everyone jumped in there. It was awesome to see."

After running the quickest time for a Funny Car in NHRA history during qualifying, a stellar 4.664-second blast, 13-time Funny Car champion Force failed to back up the mark up during eliminations to make it an official national record. Per NHRA rule, any potential national record run must be certified by another run within 1 percent.

Both Force and reigning champ Gary Scelzi lost in the quarterfinals.

Three-time and reigning Pro Stock world champ Anderson raced to his 40th career victory -- and 36th win of the last 70 national events -- in convincing fashion. In the final he posted a track record performance of 6.665 at 207.75 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to dismiss final round challenger Mike Edwards, who finished in 6.726 at 206.48 in his Young Life GTO.

"It's not as easy as it looks, I swear," Anderson said. "I'm sorry if I'm boring you guys (the media), but we've just been on such a roll over the last few years. It's still a struggle and I lose sleep every night worrying about what everyone else is doing, but we've managed to stay ahead. We have a long way to go this year but we're off to a great start."

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tour continues with the 22nd annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, Feb. 24-26, at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , David Baca , Melanie Troxel , Morgan Lucas , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight , Mike Edwards