SONOMA, Calif. (July 29) — With just three more national events until the start of the Countdown to the Championship, Scott Palmer admits he’s doing a little scoreboard watching as he works hard to secure a playoff spot for his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster. A quick glance at the rankings after Sunday’s 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, where Palmer logged a semifinal finish, shows things are looking great for the veteran driver.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the improvement we’re making since Tommy Thompson and CatSpot Organic Cat Litter started supporting us,” Palmer said. “Over the years I’ve seen a lot of teams get sponsors and go out there and run the same as they always have. Not us. We’ve won more rounds in the last two years with CatSpot on the car than I have in my entire career. It makes me feel good.
“Another big part of showing Tommy we’re trying as hard as we can is making the playoffs. We came into this weekend in 10th by only a few points and now here we are Sunday afternoon in ninth place with a few rounds cushion, that’s what we’re after. If we continue to do that at the next few races, we’ll be in the Countdown.”
After qualifying seventh overall, Palmer opened the day with a convincing 3.798 at 329.34 mph to dismiss Terry McMillen, whose racecar prematurely ejected the parachutes to slow him to a 4.726 at 133.46 mph.
Up next, the CatSpot dragster out-paced Bill Litton, with Palmer posting a 3.811 at 325.92 mph in front of Litton’s laboring 4.163 at 231.68 mph.
A simple repeat of either of his first two rounds would have put Palmer in his second final of the year — he also went to the money round in Phoenix — but a mechanical issue ended the day a tad bit early. Blake Alexander took the race with a 3.878 at 313.15 mph against Palmer’s resigned 7.634 at 106.52 mph.
“I’m super pleased with the day,” Palmer said. “Sometimes you just can’t avoid a mechanical failure and that was obviously some sort of internal issue. We haven’t found it yet but no matter what we know this car is unbelievable. It goes down the race track when we want it to and even when it looks like it doesn’t in qualifying, it’s working properly, we’re just testing new stuff.
“I’ve struggled a little bit with my lights and part of that is in my head. Steve and Billy Torrence have been helping me a lot with my driving. You’ve gotta remember, I’m a guy who’s raced in defense my whole life. Racing offensively takes a different mindset and I’m going to figure it out. We’ve got a car that runs strong and it’s time for me to step up.”
The NHRA tour quickly heads to Seattle for the 31st annual CatSpot Organic Cat Litter NHRA Northwest Nationals, running Aug. 3-5 at Pacific Raceways. With the race carrying the same title sponsorship as his race team, Palmer knows this one will be extra special for his supporters.
“All you ever want is a competitive car and now we have one,” Palmer said. “Me and Tommy Thompson, we have a hotrod right now, so I’ll step up my driving and be ready to shine in Seattle. All this stuff looks easy on TV but it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of pressure involved at this level but we can take it.”