Troxel Needs Round Wins at Sonoma to Stay in Playoff Contention The completion of NHRA's demanding Western Swing is usually a cause for celebration -- and relief -- for drivers and teams that have been diligently pursuing POWERade Series...
Troxel Needs Round Wins at Sonoma to Stay in Playoff Contention
The completion of NHRA's demanding Western Swing is usually a cause for celebration -- and relief -- for drivers and teams that have been diligently pursuing POWERade Series points in three back-to-back races. It began with stops at Denver and Seattle and will wind up at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in the heart of California's famous wine country.
The rejoicing for Melanie Troxel and the Gotham City Racing Funny Car team will be well-deserved should they return to their round-winning ways in the FRAM Autolite Nationals, Friday through Sunday.
Troxel remains in contention for one of 10 playoff spots in NHRA's Countdown to 1 championship format, but the window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller. Four more races remain in the regular 18-event season, and the top 10 are the only drivers advancing to the six-race title showdown.
She is 14th and within 104 points -- five rounds at 20 points per win -- of 10th place. It's not an impossible task.
"We need to be making a charge to get into the top 10," said Troxel, who is in her first season driving a Funny Car.
Melanie earned her first victory in her new category, Nitro Funny Car, at Bristol, Tenn. She has five career wins overall, including four in Top Fuel, and is one of 14 drivers to have won races in Top Fuel and Funny Car. She is the only female in the group that includes her husband, Tommy Johnson Jr.
"I ran (NHRA) divisions six and seven on the West Coast (during her Sportsman racing days) and have raced at Sonoma for a lot of years," she said. "I look forward to going there.
"Of course it's always good to go up to the wine country. Tommy and I like red wine so we're going to try and visit a couple of our favorite wineries."
Troxel qualified in the top half of the field at the first two events on the Swing but encountered race day problems. At Denver, she was the No. 2 qualifier but lost a close race to Gary Densham. At Seattle on Sunday, she exited in the first round.
"That was ugly," she said of the outcome. "I made a mistake at the starting line and the car didn't run like we wanted it to run.
"When you are having a rough time, a lot of times it's better to get right back out there again, rather than sit around and think about it too much."
She will be doing just that Friday.