Melanie Troxel is getting her groove back, which she demonstrated today in the first round of eliminations for the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, by not only winning her first eliminations round since re-joining Don Schumacher Racing five races ago but by dismissing the Top Fuel points leader in the process.
By doing so, she helped her teammate Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel championship, who finished runner-up today and is now just four points behind Kalitta. Troxel, who also out-qualified Kalitta, defeated him with a 4.869/294.82 to Kalitta's losing 4.914/290.69. The margin of victory was a close .0204 of a second.
In the second round, she was eliminated in another close race by Larry Dixon: 4.833/301.471 for Troxel, 4.770/303.30 for Dixon, and a margin of victory of .0575 of a second.
"We struggled to get that first round win and I can't think of a better way for it to come around," said the Colorado native, "than to take out the points leader and help out our teammate Tony Schumacher. I think we're on our way now."
On her match-up against Dixon: "That was real close. I could see him. I could barely see his nose poking out there far enough through the windshield, which kind of makes it a heartbreaker, because you're trying to do everything you can, to keep it in the groove, and try to gain a little ground on him.
"We're happy with the progress we've made. This has just been a brutal weekend on everybody," she said of the intense heat here in Memphis. "The guys were working so hard on the car in this heat. It makes driving the car a little bit more of a challenge, just focusing, trying to stay cool and doing your job on the starting line. I think we came through it all right. We got a round win and a competitive race car now."
Next up is the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Labor Day weekend.