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Magic Dry's Rickey House knocks off Top Fuel Harley series leader Doug Vancil with career-best pass

Magic Dry's Rickey House knocks off Top Fuel Harley series leader Doug Vancil with career-best pass

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 17) -- Rickey House used a remarkable career-best elapsed time of 6.205 seconds to record a huge upset win over series leader Doug Vancil in the opening round of the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series Sunday at the 50th anniversary Amalie Oil Gatornationals. 

Racing against the higher-qualified bike of Vancil, House's 6.205 at 225.26 mph lopped a huge chunk off his qualifying effort of 6.378 at 222 mph and propelled him to an end-to-end victory over Vancil's 6.230 at 235.43 mph. House was even sharp at the Christmas Tree, leaving with a .015-second reaction time to Vancil's .041-second launch.

"We'd struggled all weekend in qualifying with parts breaking and what-not so to pull off a career-best pass in Round 1 against the guy everyone is chasing in the points was really satisfying," said House, who hails from the Houston suburb of Humble, Texas. "I pretty much knew Doug was going to be quick so I tuned the bike up for a big run and it held. Having a good light there was kind of icing on the cake."

Up next was Bob Malloy, who had posted an impressive 6.208 in his Round 1 upset of third-ranked Tii Tharpe, so House knew he needed to stay fast and have another good reaction time to have a chance. He did earn a .011-second advantage when the green light flashed, but a fuel line rattled loose and covered his rear slick with nitro. That started his tire spinning, which allowed Malloy to slip by for the win. 

Adding to the pain of the defeat was the fact Malloy had some trouble of his own down track and only ran a 6.494 at 192.71 mph. 

"I definitely feel like we let a final-round slip through our fingers there," House said. "With these bikes if any one thing goes wrong, it's over. I'm upset, but there's nothing you can do about it at this point except move forward.

"The next race for our class is Houston, so it's a hometown race for me. That'll be a lot of fun because all my friends come out to support us. It's time to introduce everyone back home to Magic Dry Organic Absorbent. It's definitely something the oilfield guys need to know about and use."

Prior to his Round 1 pass Sunday, House's previous career-best elapsed time was 6.227 seconds. 

House's Magic Dry teammate Scott Palmer came up short in a pedaling contest against first-round opponent T.J. Zizzo in Top Fuel dragster action, which took place after a rain delay. Palmer got a slight .013-second head start but soon smoked his tires, allowing Zizzo to get past. A moment later, Zizzo got loose and had to get on and off the gas in his car at least three times to get it to hook back up. Palmer was trying to give chase but his second stab at the throttle put him over by the wall, forcing him to retire. 

"You can’t take the Zizzo's lightly and we knew that," Palmer said. "They went up there trying to run low 3.70s just like we did and both of us did the same thing. For some reason with this car lately when it smokes the tires it’s getting sideways so it’s hard to pedal. You have to let it get it back straight before you get back on the gas. 

"That’s probably due to the fact that this car has a lot of runs on it. There’s a reason big teams don’t run cars more than 175 runs. They don’t do it to waste money; they do it for a reason, and to run at this level, you have to step up.

"We have a brand-new car waiting for us in Indy at the Lucas chassis shop. We are going to get it and go straight to Torrence’s shop to put it together so we can run it at Vegas. Jason McCulloch and the Laganas are helping us and we are going to show up at Vegas and be just as aggressive when we get there."

Up next is the 20th annual Denso Spark Plus Four-Wide Nationals, April 5-7, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Magic Dry Top Fuel pro Scott Palmer locks down another top-half starting berth

Magic Dry Top Fuel pro Scott Palmer locks down another top-half starting berth

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 16) -- For the third consecutive race, Scott Palmer and his Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Top Fuel team have secured the No. 8 position in the elimination field, this time at the 50th anniversary Amalie Oil Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.

Taking advantage of Saturday's cooler temperatures, Palmer peeled off a steady 3.750-second pass at 326.56 mph in the third qualifying session to earn his spot. His best from Friday, when it was much hotter and more humid, was a 3.812 at 319.90 mph.

"The good thing was this Magic Dry car went down the track in both conditions, hot yesterday and cooler today," Palmer said. "We tried to improve in Q4 but broke a clutch lever, which I'm going to look at as some early race day luck maybe because if it didn't happen there it probably would have been in E1.

"We certainly weren't going to be conservative because we made the decision to race offensively this year, and that includes in qualifying also. It might bite us from time to time but by the end of the year I think being aggressive will work to our advantage."

Since he qualified in the top-half of the field, Palmer will have lane choice over T.J. Zizzo, a part-time racer who shocked the class Friday when he earned the provisional pole with a 3.762-second blast at 323.35 mph. Zizzo improved on that mark a touch on Saturday, finally topping out at 3.753 at 328.62 mph.

"They're an independent team that only races once in a while but when they show up they're fast," Palmer said. "T.J. ran just about the same as us and they won't be holding anything back in eliminations. If we both make it to the finish line, it will be a great race. 

"We had the chance to run against T.J. in qualifying and at the other end we were talking about how cool it was two cars that came from nothing are running this well against all these big power teams. I'm proud of those guys. They do everything on their own and that's so impressive. They are absolutely a threat and we're not taking them lightly at all."

 As the eighth and ninth qualifiers, it's likely Palmer and Zizzo will be the first pair of cars down the track when elimination action begins. That could make for a very interesting battle, especially if the expected rain comes in overnight and washes down the racing surface. 

"No matter what, you know the NHRA will prep the track and make it awesome and we will definitely run this race at some point," Palmer said. "Right now, we'll plan for cool conditions like we had today when everyone was so much faster but if things change and the sun comes out, we'll be ready for that also."  

Palmer's Magic Dry teammate, Rickey House, is one spot better on the Top Fuel Harley qualifying sheet after earning the No. 7 slot with a 6.378 at 222 mph. However, Top Fuel Harley only sets an eight-bike field so House will yield lane choice to first-round opponent Doug Vancil, who qualified second with a stout 6.181 at 237 mph.

“Crazy weekend so far but I made the show so I’m happy,” House said. “Now I have to get ready for tomorrow. It shows rain so I don’t what that will happen but it looks like we will have cool conditions either way and that’s good on my part. 

“I just have to do what I’ve gotta do and not worry about the other guys. They all know me and they know I can step up there and run a good number. They know my bike can do it. Hopefully I can put some fear in everyone else and make them screw up. Some guys only got down one time. I have something to work with now, so I am pretty happy.”


Special relationship between Scott Palmer and his sponsor now extends to crew

Special relationship between Scott Palmer and his sponsor now extends to crew

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 11) -- The relationship between Top Fuel driver Scott Palmer and sponsor Tommy Thompson is definitely different than most. Palmer and Thompson are friends, first and foremost, and they're also partners in a winning drag boat team. The fact they are able to promote two of Thompson's businesses -- Magic Dry Organic Absorbent and CatSpot Organic Litter -- is merely a bonus.

"My deal with Tommy is so much more than business," Palmer said. "It's a personal friendship between me and him. We just happen to love the same things and we have figured out a way to use our passions to promote his companies, which is great, but we're very close whether we're racing or not."

With two open weekends between the NHRA's last stop in Phoenix and the upcoming 50th anniversary Amalie Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, Palmer decided to forego his usual diversion to his race shop in Missouri and work out of Thompson's facility in Locust Grove, Okla., instead. There was a very specific reason why Palmer made this stop.

"We needed to go through everything in our trailer," he said. "We needed to freshen up our parts, check the cylinder heads and do all the usual stuff we do between races. We always go through everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it’s just right for the next race. We just did it at the boat shop this time, which was cool. 

 "The guys worked 12 hours a day but they got to go to lunch and dinner with Tommy every day and just hang out with him. I want my crew to know him as well as I do. Like I said, it’s not your average sponsor deal. It’s more than that. I wanted everyone to know what a genuine person he is. He deserves everyone giving their all every minute because that’s what he does for all of us. I wanted them to absorb his passion for our success, and I think it worked."

After a pair of top-half qualifying efforts at the first two races of the season, Palmer and crew are excited about Gainesville, mainly because it's going to be warmer than the unseasonably cold weather the tour has experienced so far.

"Our car has run great both races but the temperatures didn’t do us any favors," Palmer said. "We are still learning how to race on cold tracks. We can run a qualifying number on them but it’s a whole different story when it’s 50 degrees on race day and you are running a 10,000-plus horsepower Top Fuel car. The teams with the most experience definitely have the advantage. We just don’t have the experience yet. 

"Gainesville is going to be more realistic conditions for us and that will put us back where we are a little more comfortable. I'm expecting big things. I know the crew is motivated."