ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 6) — To win an NHRA drag race you have to be prepared to beat anyone in the field so it seems fitting that Scott Palmer will open his quest for the Top Fuel title of the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals against reigning world champion Brittany Force.
Separated by just three hundredths of a second on the qualifying grid, Palmer likes his chances after a methodical four rounds of qualifying at the Texas Motorplex.
“We got a little behind in Q1 with a clutch issue,” Palmer said. “I couldn’t find neutral so I couldn’t get it into reverse. Because of that we had to be a little more conservative Friday night when most teams made their best passes.
“Today we went a little over-center in the first session and smoked the tires so we backed it down a touch from there for Q4 and just tried to run a low 3.8 to get a good baseline tune-up for tomorrow if it’s hot like this again.”
The plan worked perfectly as Palmer pulled off his best pass of the meet, a 3.820 at 326.08 mph in the CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster, to secure his position in the elimination field.
“I personally made a little mistake up there,” Palmer said of his run of record. “I turned the top bulb on (to pre-stage) and must have hit the reverser with my leg and knocked it out of forward because when I let the clutch out to stage it didn’t move at all. I had to stop and regroup because my first thought was something went wrong. Then I noticed it wasn’t in forward so I just kind of started over.
“That cost me a good light because I was more focused on shallow staging to get all the ET I could. I also went through it as fast as possible because I didn’t want Leah (Pritchett, opponent) to get screwed up from me taking too long. That’s something that’s very important to me but she said it was good when I talked to her at the top end.”
Racing Force won’t be easy as she ran a slightly quicker 3.781 at 326.71 mph in qualifying to slot slightly higher on the elimination grid. But Palmer says it could be a crapshoot any ways considering weather forecasts calling for lots of overnight rain.
“Who knows what it’s gonna do tomorrow,” he said. “If it’s rainy and cloudy like they’re saying then we’ll go back to our St. Louis set-up and try to run 3.75 to 3.77. If it’s hot, we’ll build on what we just ran.
“It’s funny but for once in our lives we aren’t wishing for it to be hot and greasy because we have a fast car. Now we want clouds so we can run fast like the bigger teams.”
No matter the outcome, Palmer will continue to enjoy lots of local support.
“We’ve got lots of great guests here this weekend,” Palmer said. “We have my graduating class from 1981 in Marlow, Oklahoma, with us. We have folks from GR Energy Services, an oilfield company, hanging out. They’re talking about jumping on board with Tommy Thompson Motorsports and myself for next year. We’re working with them with Magic Dry, getting this product into these oil companies. Obviously, we want to show everyone what it feels like to win and we’ll be ready to go.”