SCHUMACHER NAMES MELANIE TROXEL AS DRIVER OF THE TORCO GEAR TOP FUEL DRAGSTER Richard Hogan Signed as Crew Chief INDIANAPOLIS (July 6, 2005) - Multi-team owner Don Schumacher today named Melanie Troxel to drive the Torco Gear Top Fuel Dragster...
SCHUMACHER NAMES MELANIE TROXEL AS DRIVER OF THE TORCO GEAR TOP FUEL
Richard Hogan Signed as Crew Chief
INDIANAPOLIS (July 6, 2005) - Multi-team owner Don Schumacher today named Melanie Troxel to drive the Torco Gear Top Fuel Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, beginning with the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., July 15-17.
The second team Top Fuel entry will be a partner to the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster driven by two-time champion Tony Schumacher, and will be tuned by Richard Hogan.
Troxel, who was recently released as a development driver from Don Prudhomme Racing, will actually rejoin the team for which she drove in a limited number of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2000. In her 10 starts that year, Troxel was runner-up once, reached the semifinals twice and the quarterfinals seven times.
The 32-year-old Colorado native began drag racing in the Top Alcohol dragster ranks, where she captured two NHRA national event victories in 1999 (Seattle and Topeka), claiming the runner-up spot in the point standings before moving to Top Fuel in 2000. Troxel, who is married to Funny Car pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. and lives in Avon, Ind., also drove a Top Fuel dragster at select events in 2002 and 2003, with the Sonoma, Calif., event in '03 her last stint in the seat of a Top Fuel dragster.
"I am excited to be able to bring Melanie Troxel back to drive our second Top Fuel dragster through the completion of the 2005 NHRA season and beyond," said Schumacher. "She has a tremendous presence and popularity in this sport, and is an outstanding driver. Melanie did an excellent job for us in 2000 and I'm delighted to have her return to our team.
"I have been working all season trying to get a second Top Fuel car out there," he continued. "So, when the opportunity with Torco Gear presented itself and with Melanie being available to drive, there was no question that this was the right decision to make."
"It's kind of funny how things come around," said Troxel. "It's almost exactly five years from the first time that I talked to Don. I'm thrilled to be coming on board with the Don Schumacher Racing team. When I came to work for DSR in 2000 I talked about what a great high-caliber team it is and I feel the same way, and even more so, today. Opportunities to work with a team like this only come around once and, I guess, twice, in my case.
"Obviously we won't be in the points chase this year," Troxel continued, "but I think we have a great opportunity to go out and get in a lot of passes, gain a lot of information, and get a lot of good experience for me. At the same time, we're laying the groundwork for this team to be competitive next year and be in the points chase."
"This car will always race against whoever pulls up next to it at the starting line, including Tony," explained Schumacher.
"We're very excited," said Evan Knoll, president/owner of Torco Racing Fuels, Inc., of which Torco Gear is a division. "I'm very proud of being associated and affiliated with Don Schumacher and the teams that he has brought into the NHRA drag-racing industry.
"We started a new Torco Gear soft-goods and wear program, and that's going very, very well," he continued. "And what better way to kick off this program than to support a full-time Top Fuel dragster underneath Don's umbrella. We believe that Melanie is definitely going to be a marketing genius for us. I'm very proud and honored to have her on board to represent Torco Gear."
Crew chief Hogan, 45, comes to DSR from David Powers Racing, where he worked through the first half of this year. From Ennis, Mont., Hogan grew up in drag racing, watching his father Charlie "King" Hogan compete. In 1979, he began his professional career working with Marvin Schwartz. He has also worked with "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Kenny Bernstein, Don Prudhomme, John Mitchell, and Alan Johnson.
"The multi-car team scenario is definitely the future of the sport," said Hogan. "This is a good opportunity, to be with a well-funded team. I'm also looking forward to working with Melanie. There's a small learning curve when you change drivers. And obviously she's changing teams, so it's the same for both of us. It's a new deal for everyone involved, and we'll try to adapt to each other and the program as quickly as we can and get up to speed, go rounds, and win races."
Don Schumacher Racing now includes nine professional NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series teams: The U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster driven by Tony Schumacher; the Torco Gear Top Fuel dragster steered by Melanie Troxel; the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Funny Car of Whit Bazemore; the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Funny Car piloted by Gary Scelzi; the Brut Dodge driven by Ron Capps; two U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycles for Angelle Sampey and Antron Brown; and two Pro Stock cars: the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus driven by Richie Stevens Jr., and the Jeg's Mail Order/Mopar Dodge Stratus of Jeg Coughlin Jr.