First round win of young season gives Scott Palmer a boost
HOUSTON (April 14) -- Although no one ended up clutching a trophy Sunday, smiles still came pretty easy for the trio of drivers sponsored by racing legend Tommy Thompson and his Magic Dry Organic Absorbent product. Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House and Top Alcohol Dragster pilot Shane Conway both reached the semifinals, while Top Fuel favorite Scott Palmer found a little of last year's mojo by winning his first elimination round of the season.
"We finally got out of the first round and got some of our mojo back," Palmer said. "I was definitely singing Bee Gee songs in my head when I was staging in Round 1 and it worked because we got the win. I tried it again in the second round but I was a little distracted and had a bad light. I must have been in the wrong part of the song.
"Still, it was nice to get out of the first round and get to the second round for my crew. Half the team is new this year and that was the first time they got to experience a win and what it takes to turn the car around on race day and get ready for another round. They performed flawlessly and I'm super proud."
The first-round win started with Palmer posting a great .054-second reaction time against Billy Torrence. He never looked back from there, running a steady 3.807 at 319.82 mph ahead of Torrence's struggling 6.295 at 116.08 mph.
Up next was Clay Millican, who gained a .031-second reaction time advantage and raced away to the win with a 3.730 at 319.82 mph to Palmer's 3.802 at 305.22 mph.
"For sure we wanted to go a little quicker but I shut it off a little early when he got close to the finish line and I could see I didn't have a chance," Palmer said. "There’s no reason to run it out the back door if you know you’re not going to get there first. I used to call it 'driving with my foot attached to my wallet.' Now I call it, ‘driving with my foot attached to Tommy’s wallet.' It looks like it was going to run a 3.77 or 3.78 so we still weren’t going to win that round. It was the right decision to save the parts.
"We learned a lot this weekend and we’ve got our clutch program back online. Now we can go to Charlotte and come out swinging."
In Top Fuel Harley, House knew he had an immediate chance to move up in the rankings if he beat first-round foe Tii Tharpe, who started the weekend just nine points ahead of House. A 6.364 at 218.48 mph did the job as Tharpe got out of shape and coasted to a 15.059 at 42.50 mph.
That put House in the semifinals where his bike spun the rear tire early in the run, handing Scott a ticket to the final with a 6.364 at 213.27 mpg to House's surrendering 8.445 at 129.55 mph.
"Beating Tii first round was big," House said. "They were ahead of us in the points and that's a great team so it was a big relief to get that win. Then I saw that (Doug) Vancil got beat first round too so I knew that would help us in the points as well. I really needed to go into the finals to take full advantage of those two going out early but it just didn’t work out."
Conway reached the Top Alcohol Dragster semifinals by beating Mike Bucher in Round 1 with a 5.625 at 244.96 mph to Bucher's 5.651 at 257.87 mph. He then stole one from Jackie Fricke with a .043-second holeshot, 5.295 at 267.69 mph to Fricke's quicker but losing 5.271 at 276.86 mph.
In the semis, Conway got a .033-second jump on Troy Coughlin Jr. but lost traction soon after the launch and lost to Coughlin's 5.260 at 277.26 mph.
"Qualifying started off well with a 5.34, then a 5.35," Conway said. "We slowed down to a 5.41 in the final qualifying session and we thought it was something we had done. We tried to fix it in the first round but, obviously, we didn’t because it slowed down even more, although we still were able to get the win and move on.
"We had a good light and a decent 5.29 against Fricke to get that win and then had another good light in the semifinals but obviously we just had too much power early in that run and it smoked the tires. We will go to Charlotte in two weeks and try again."