BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 15) – CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster driver Scott Palmer has been counting points all season, so why stop now, especially with two races before the start of the Countdown to the Championship?
Palmer currently sits 10th in the Top Fuel standings as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Brainerd International Raceway for this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the next-to-last race before the NHRA “playoffs” begin. He’s 11 points behind ninth-place Richie Crampton and 30 points ahead of 11th-place Mike Salinas.
Only the top 10 in the points standings are eligible for the Countdown, the six-race segment of the season that determines the champions in the four pro classes, so the next two races are critical.
“We are going to Brainerd trying to win the race but we also have to protect our situation too,” Palmer said. “The Countdown is right here. We’ve been counting points since the start of the year, and it’s down to two races now so this is an important one.
“We need to gain some points and protect our spot. It’s going to be tough. We’ve got an Alan Johnson-tuned car behind us (Salinas). When you’ve got a car like that behind you, the pressure is on. But, in the end, we just have to do our own thing.
“Unfortunately, first round in Seattle, we raced Salinas, who was low E.T. of first round and low E.T. of second round. It was his day. We went up there and did what we thought would win that round and we didn’t do it. We had great run. It would have beaten two-thirds of the field.”
Although Palmer fell in the first round of the final race of the Western Swing –he still held onto a spot in the top 10. The key to each weekend, Palmer said, comes during qualifying. If he and the CatSpot team can get in the top half of the field, that makes a first-round matchup on Sunday just a tick easier. A bottom-half qualifying spot simply makes for a much more difficult race day.
“Our goal in Brainerd is to qualify better,” Palmer said. “We had an issue on Friday night’s run (in Seattle) that made us qualify 10th. If we had qualified seventh or eighth, we would have had a better draw and probably could have gone further. You make your own destiny out here. We are going to Brainerd and work on qualifying position, which will put us in a better position to win the first round. I am confident that if we win a few rounds between this race and Indy, we’ll be OK.
“That’s going to be our focus, getting a better qualifying position and winning a few rounds. Myself, Rick Ducusin, Jason McCulloch, Bobby Lagana, this is something we discuss every day. We discuss what we are trying to achieve every day.”
After the Seattle race, Palmer headed to Sturgis, S.D., for the 78th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It was a nice break after three races in a row, and also a great time to talk about his title sponsor’s myriad of products.
“We stopped two days in Sturgis to do some business with Magic Dry Absorbent and some motorcycle manufacturers,” Palmer said. “We had a chance to ride around a little bit, which is a great way to clear your head, and then we got home and got to work.
“I had some motorcycle manufacturers interested in Magic Dry so that’s one of the reasons I went to Sturgis. My whole life revolves around racing so anytime I do something like that, I am always trying to find a way to better what we are doing so we can keep racing.”