COMMERCE, Ga. (April 30) -- Coming off an odd, but ultimately successful, drag race in North Carolina, Scott Palmer arrives in Georgia for this weekend's 39th annual Arby's NHRA Southern Nationals with high hopes of another memorable national event.
After struggling mightily during qualifying for last weekend's Four-Wide Nationals, Palmer came to life on race day, beating past world champions Brittany Force and Antron Brown on his way to a fifth-place finish overall.
"Going to Atlanta, we are Cloud 9 because of our performance on Sunday in Charlotte," Palmer said. "We didn't qualify well because of some parts failures and we certainly didn't have a good draw with Brittany Force, Antron Brown and my teammate Dom Lagana in our foursome. I mean, that’s a terrible first-round draw. Nobody thought, with the struggles we had in qualifying, we could pull it off but me and Dom both advanced.
"Then we spun the tires down-track in the next race but it made it 600 feet before it did. We easily could have won that round and been in the final but we ended up being the quickest of the four that didn't make it, so we finished fifth. We are not disappointed by that result."
Parts failure is bound to happen when you're dealing with 11,000-horsepower, nitro-burning engines, and no team is immune to gremlins, but as Palmer points out, it can be harder on smaller crews.
"It was just a few things we didn't have time to double check and they bit us," he said. "Since Sunday, we have gone over everything on this car with a fine-tooth comb to try and eliminate any more failures. It’s hard when you are on the road as much as we are and we only have three full-time people. Big teams usually have 10. So, it catches up with you at times and you have to stop and focus on the details to get it right."
Palmer benefits from a tuning alliance with the CAPCO Contractors team, which fields the cars of reigning world champion Steve Torrence and his father Billy Torrence. He's also teammates with CAPCO crew chief/part-time driver Dom Lagana, who will once again race the Lagana family's dragster this weekend.
"That gives us two cars with the exact same set-up to go off of in Atlanta," Palmer said. "Dom helps us quite a bit. Me and him are trying to keep the little guys out here. He struggled in Charlotte qualifying just like we did but also came alive and advanced on race day.
"Having someone like Dom as a teammate helps us so much because we were able to get together with our tune-ups Saturday night and figure out what we were going to do first round. That was huge for both of us.
"That was also the first time we have run in hot conditions this year and we are fairly confident when it’s warm outside, and it will be in Atlanta, that we can run with anyone."