HOUSTON (April 13) -- Top Fuel dragster driver Scott Palmer and Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House successfully placed their Magic Dry Organic Absorbent-branded race machines in the elimination field of this weekend's 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil.
Unlike most race weekends, the final professional qualifying session ended up being the best of the four due to a weather system moving through the area that brought cooler temperatures. While House was able to post his best run of the meet in Q4, Palmer couldn't capitalize due to a mechanical issue, but he chose to accept that turn of fate as a bit of good luck.
"That last run we were trying to run a low 3.70 like everyone else but we had a clutch malfunction," Palmer explained. "A piece in the clutch broke and that killed the run. Basically, stuff like that is just about unavoidable so there are two ways to look at it. You can look at it as bad luck or you can luck at as good luck because it didn’t happen tomorrow in the first round of eliminations."
Instead, Palmer rested on his opening pass from Friday, a 3.771 at 321.81 mph, as his run of record, placing him opposite Texan Billy Torrence, who posted a 3.720 at 325.92 mph in Q4. Palmer enjoys a tuning alliance with Torrence and his son Steve, the reigning Top Fuel champion.
"Unfortunately, we race Billy in the first round," Palmer said. "Those guys are our friends and they help us with so much. Plus, that’s a consistently fast car. Either way, we will still go up there and do our best. You just never know in this sport. If it stays cooler, we'll run our best of the weekend tomorrow morning. Hopefully it's enough to beat Billy.
"It’s been a good weekend for us so far. We started off with a 3.77 in Q1, made some changes Friday night that didn’t quite work, but at least we got to try some things and still ran a 3.80. Earlier today we tried to run another 3.77 and ran a 3.79. Thankfully we got the last session in before the rain, because otherwise the clutch malfunction would have happened tomorrow first round."
Teammate House was able to ride the cooler air offered in Q4 to a great 6.288 at 222.11 mph, which jumped him from sixth to third place on the eight-bike grid in Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley action.
"I'm really happy because I felt like we hadn't really shown what the Magic Dry bike could do until that last session," House said. "I was pleased with the way the bike was running but it feels really good to step up like that, especially right before we switch over to eliminations.
"What we do tomorrow will be a lot like it was just then because it's supposed stay cooler like this but the thing is, if the sun comes out, the track may get hotter. The bike is running good and as long as I don’t do something stupid I like our chances. The only thing I don't like is how windy it's been all weekend but I just can’t think about that. I just have to go out there and do what I do.
A resident of Humble, Texas, which is 40 miles west of the track, House will have all the hometown support he needs when he opens against North Carolina's Tii Tharpe, who qualified sixth with a 6.338 at 226.13 mph.