DENVER (July 18) — The Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway always presents a challenge for drag racers running the national tour as the lack of oxygen drastically changes the way their nitro-burning cars perform. Crowd favorite Scott Palmer, driver of the CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster, says his blue-collar crew is looking to take advantage of the situation if anyone else struggles.
“It’s a balancing game up there,” Palmer said. “Keep in mind, last year in Denver we ran the same basic combination (points leader Steve) Torrence did and we posted our career best at that track, a 3.87 at 318 mph. That was awesome but we had to run our stuff so hard to go that fast and it can be very tough on your budget.
“We feel like we can run mid to high 3.80s again this year but there are going to be guys trying to run 3.75s or faster. We’ll be forced to draw a line at some point because you have to decide if it’s worth pushing your equipment that hard. There’s going to be lots of expensive parts sacrificed on the mountain and we don’t want to contribute any of ours.”
To help balance the cost/risk equation, Palmer and teammate Dom Lagana, who helps both Torrence and Palmer, use some old tried and true tricks from their barnstorming exhibition and match-race days. Those same tricks have been keeping Palmer in the championship fight in a year when the NHRA decided to prep racetracks differently than in the past.
“We are doing things we used to do back in the day when me and the Laganas would put on shows everywhere,” Palmer said. “We learned back then how to run hard and put up some big numbers on racetracks that weren’t exactly prepped like they were when the national event was being run. Now the NHRA isn’t prepping for national events the way they used to so it’s been a throwback for us.
“It’s hard for some people to go back and do things like we did them 10 years ago but some of those tricks still work really well to get down tricky race tracks. It’s hard for some people to go back because we have all of the stuff to go faster and that’s what we’re wired to do but sometimes you have to make yourself go a little bit slower. It’s harder than it sounds.”
While they work to secure a playoff spot, Palmer and crew know they will have plenty of support during the three-race Western Swing, the annual string of consecutive events in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle.
“We have a lot of friends on the Western Swing and that’s always exciting,” Palmer said. “Some of our friends we’ve met drag boat racing plan to join us. I know Steve Streeter, an alcohol hydro guy from Denver, will be there with us this weekend. Joe Cassidy and Glen Wilson will be with us in Sonoma and then we have the 31st annual CatSpot Organic Cat Litter NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle and that’s a big-time boat racing area up there. It’s pretty cool that all of the boat racing people we’ve met over the last three or four years come out and enjoy the car world with us.”