LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) — Scott Palmer remains optimistic that his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster can ring up some round wins and maybe even contend for a trophy in the last two NHRA drag races of the year. He’ll get his first shot Sunday after successfully qualifying in the top half of the field for the 18th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Palmer used a best pass of 3.768 seconds at 326.48 mph in the third of four qualifying sessions to lock up the No. 8 position on the race day grid.
“We had a great run there in Q3, a 3.76 at 326 mph, which put us up in the top half of the field,” Palmer said. “Today we’ve been going for it. After the .76 in Q3 we tried to step it up in the last round but we smoked the tires. The good news is it did that not because something went wrong but because we were trying something to see if it would work for tomorrow.
“It feels really good to run like we did today because the first run on Friday we smoked the tires. We actually set the car up using (teammate) Dom (Lagana’s) information from the last race but the track is hotter here than it was at Charlotte. We were trying to run a 3.76 there but we were too aggressive. The second run, we had to make sure we got in the show so we slowed it down and we ran a real safe 3.81. At least that allowed us to go for it today.”
As the No. 8 qualifier, Palmer has earned lane choice over first-round opponent Tony Schumacher, the all-time class leader in wins and championships. Schumacher qualified ninth overall with a 3.772 at 330.15 mph. The two pros have raced one another two times this season, with Schumacher holding a 2-0 advantage in head-to-head competition.
“Somebody came up to me and said, ‘Too bad you have Tony Schumacher first round tomorrow,'” Palmer said. “I said, ‘We have lane choice over the U.S. Army car tomorrow, the flagship car of the NHRA. That’s a pretty good accomplishment to be in the top half of the field with this group of racers that we race with.’
“The last time we raced Tony, in Reading, we only lost by three thousandths of a second so it’s not like we can’t run with them. We know we are close and right now the car is better than it’s been. It’s actually as good as it’s ever been.”
In Las Vegas, as it has been at each stop on the NHRA tour, Palmer and his hard-working crew, led by Jason McCulloch, are enjoying plenty of crowd support.
“We love our fans and we love CatSpot and Tommy Thompson,” Palmer said. “The goal tomorrow is to run even better than we did today. I just need to do my job and if it runs better than it did today, we have a good shot at going rounds.”
Eliminations start at 11 a.m. local time.