INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 27) — Locked in a three-man battle for the last two playoff spots in Top Fuel, Scott Palmer brings his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster team to the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals with firm plans to follow the advice of a drag racing legend.
“Frank Manzo taught me something when I raced with him,” Palmer said of the 105-time national event winner. “He said his racing season always started at Indy and ended in Brainerd. So, basically before Indy every year he started fresh with new cars and new parts.
“Usually by Indy your stuff is getting tired and then you push everything harder at Indy because it’s Indy and then you push it even harder down the stretch because you’re racing for the championship. It really doesn’t make sense to do your most important racing with old stuff.
“So, we are doing this the Frank Manzo way. Instead of testing for Indy, we went back and freshened everything up, replaced a lot of parts with new stuff from Tom Conway, and we’re ready to give this thing our best effort. Frank won so many championships and races. He’s the second winningest driver in NHRA history and he did it because when he got ready to go to Indy, he was starting fresh. We’re following his lead.”
Working closely with points leader Steve Torrence and the entire CAPCO race team, sharing data and parts each weekend, Palmer has proven himself to be a solid contender all year. He knows the fight for reaching his second straight playoff field is merely a part of running with the top echelon teams.
“Making the Countdown is important, of course, but it’s really not what drives us,” Palmer said. “What drives us is that Tommy (Thompson, sponsor) and CatSpot give us a chance to run at this level so we do this for them. Our team doesn’t just represent a company, we represent a close friend. We know that we are lucky to have this opportunity and we want Tommy and everyone at CatSpot to be proud of what we do.
“Still, we are taking this race very seriously. It will be tense. There’s a lot of pressure, but it’s good pressure because we are in this position. We could be completely out of it but we’re not. We just want to do our best. When it comes Monday night, if we can all sleep good that night knowing we gave it our all, that’s all you can ask for.
“I know it’s going to be a pressure cooker but our chances are as good as the other two cars in this fight. From here on in, it’s all going to come down to who makes the least mistakes, who has the least failures and who goes the most rounds. It’ll be a fight but we’ve fought our whole lives to stay out here. It’s a lot better to be fighting to be in the countdown than to be fighting to stay out here. We’ve had way tougher fights than this. This is a fun fight.”