KENT, Wash. (Aug. 5) – CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel Harley racer Rickey House raced to the semifinals of his sponsor’s race, the 31st annual CatSpot Organic Cat Litter NHRA Northwest Nationals on Sunday at Pacific Raceways.
House’s CatSpot teammate, Top Fuel dragster driver Scott Palmer, was bounced in the first round by a surprising Mike Salinas, yet still held his spot in the top 10 of the Top Fuel points standings.
House secured a first-round victory in thrilling circumstance, beating Randal Andras on a holeshot. House left .168 seconds sooner than Andras, and his 6.137-second pass at 218.82 mph was enough to hold off Andras’ better run of 6.282 seconds at 224.02 mph.
House left first on his semifinal opponent, Tii Tharpe, with a .033 reaction time. But though Tharpe slowed to a pass of 6.859 seconds at 218.55 mph, House had issues of his own in a run of 12.292 seconds at 77.48 mph.
“First round was great,” House said. “Got lucky and won on a holeshot, but I’m happy the bike ran consistently all through qualifying and first round. Then second round, I made a small change to it. I kept track of the track temperature and it did get two degrees warmer than it did yesterday, and I didn’t think two degrees was that much – but apparently it was.
“It was hotter so it went out and smoked the tires right out of the gate and I tried to pedal it and smoked ’em about three times. I saw Tii was in trouble but then it dropped a cylinder and I wasn’t going to tear the motor up.”
Still, House was pleased with the performance of his CatSpot bike in his sponsor’s race.
“Overall I’m happy with the weekend,” House said. “I really needed this win for CatSpot and for the points. All I can do now is go win a race. We’ve got Indy next, so we will go from here.”
Palmer qualified No. 10 and faced No. 7 Salinas in the first round. Palmer made a solid pass of 3.840 seconds at 323.89 mph but got blitzed by Salinas’ low-of-the-round 3.745 at 324.59 mph.
“We got kicked in the balls first round,” Palmer said. “They ran a 3.74. We were definitely not trying to run a 3.74. We were trying to run in the high 3.70s because that’s what we thought it would take to win first round and we were wrong. They were fast. (Salinas) did tell me in the staging lanes that they knew they would have to run fast because that thought we would come out and run a 3.77 or 3.78 so they went for it and it worked. They were low E.T. of first round.
“It’s hard to be disappointed when the car runs faster than you were trying to run. You’re not going to accidentally run faster than you were trying to run. It usually goes the other way. We had a great run and that run would have won quite a few rounds but that’s just how it goes.”
Palmer slipped to 10th in the Top Fuel standings, but still remained in contention for the Countdown to the Championship. The six-race Countdown, which begins in three races, takes the top 10 drivers in the standings.
“The points chase for ninth, 10th and 11th is going to go down to the wire,” Palmer said. “It’s going to be exciting though. Richie (Crampton) won round one so that moves us to 10th because he was only three points behind us. We are in 10th and now only 30 points ahead of (Salinas) and less than a round behind Richie.
“I never wish anyone bad luck. I don’t wish for them to lose, I wish for us to win. If we worry about winning and not worry about them losing, we’ll be OK.”