BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19) — The final two playoff spots in the Top Fuel category will not be decided for two more weeks but for now the driver in the catbird seat is Scott Palmer, pilot of the CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster.
Palmer knocked off title contender Leah Pritchett in the opening round of Sunday’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals with a stout 3.837 at 325.06 mph to Pritchett’s tire-smoking 4.068 at 276.92 mph, assuring he’d leave town as part of the top 10. That’s the team’s main goal at the moment as only the top 10 drivers advance to the Countdown to the Championship playoffs after the next race in Indianapolis.
“We just have to continue do our own thing,” Palmer said. “The Countdown deal, of course it’s a big thing, but we feel like we found some things this weekend that will help us in Indy and I think we will be ok when the dust settles.
“We definitely have a good race car now. It’s back. We are going to make sure we are 110-percent prepared for Indy and we’ll give them all we got. That’s our plan.”
Even though Palmer lost a nail-biter to teammate Billy Torrence in the next round, he was assured at least two more weeks in the top 10 after Richie Crampton lost to Brittany Force in the opening round. Crampton’s loss to Force and Palmer’s win over Pritchett actually allowed Palmer to move from 10th to ninth place.
Fellow Countdown hopeful Mike Salinas, meanwhile, assumed the 10th position with his semifinal finish and has drawn within seven points of Palmer. Palmer, Salinas and Crampton are separated by just 10 points. Only two will advance to the Countdown.
Palmer came within .02 seconds of beating Torrence and padding his slight advantage over his rivals but his personal best-of-the-meet 3.798 at 324.59 mph just wasn’t quite enough for Torrence’s 3.781 at 320.74 mph.
“That was an unbelievable run against Billy,” Palmer said. “If anyone thinks the Torrences don’t give us everything they have, they’re crazy. That round right there, our car ran a 3.79, Steve (Torrence’s) car ran a 3.79 and Billy’s car ran a 3.78; you can’t get any closer than that. If you don’t think we are sharing all our data, look at those runs.
“Last night, Steve and Billy, instead of going to the hotel, they came over and saw me working on my throttle pedal. I didn’t even know what I was doing but I’m working on my throttle pedal because I haven’t had good lights and now that the car is running strong I want my crew guys to know I’m doing something about it.
“For three hours, Steve and Billy helped me work on my throttle pedal to get my foot in a better position so I could try to cut a better light and sure enough I had two great lights today (.064 and .066). What they did helped me and that’s what teammates do. You only do that for family. You don’t do that for a buddy. You don’t go over and help someone cut a good light when you might have to race them. It made a difference.
“They even gave us cylinder heads for Round 2. I went from a 3.83 to a 3.79 with zero changes to the tune-up, just new cylinder heads, that I got from the guy I’m racing.”
Up next, a battle to the end for the final two playoff spots in two weeks at the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
“How can I be lucky enough to be surrounded by people like (sponsor) Tommy Thompson, who’s all about friends and family, and the Torrences, who are exactly the same?,” Palmer said. “Who can be that lucky to be with two groups of people who are that good? That’s hard to find.”
About CatSpot Organic Cat Litter
CatSpot Organic Cat Litter is a chemical-free, all-natural, environmentally-friendly cat litter made entirely from coconut that completely absorbs ammonia to eliminate the smell found in conventional clay-based litters. It’s extremely lightweight, hypoallergenic and 100-percent dust-free with no clumping agents. CatSpot Organic Cat Litter also is biodegradable. Used litter can be repurposed in yards, flower beds or compost heaps. CatSpot Organic Cat Litter is proudly Made in the USA.