CHARLOTTE (Oct. 13) — Tommy Thompson Racing teammates Dom Lagana and Scott Palmer successfully raced their way into the Top Fuel elimination field of this weekend’s 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals and are ready to challenge for the trophy when Sunday’s eliminations kick off at zMax Dragway.
Lagana did a slightly better job in qualifying his Magic Dry Absorbent dragster in the No. 8 position with a best pass of 3.762 at 324.59 mph. Palmer was just a few spots back in the 12th slot with a 3.788 at 326.56 mph in his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter rail.
“We’ve got the best car we’ve had all year going into race day,” said Lagana, who is competing for the seventh time this year. “We’ll just take it round by round and see how good the track is and what it will take. It’s a noon start but I think it’s still going to be fairly cool tomorrow. It should be just as good as it was in Q4, if not better.
“The weekend has been good so far. We smoked the tires in Q1, but then diagnosed the problem and came back strong. Things have been right where we want to run. Everything is working well, the car is coming back clean, and it’s responding to everything we are doing.”
Lagana will open race day against Terry McMillen, who qualified ninth with a 3.769 at 325.30 mph. As the eighth- and ninth-place drivers, the duo will likely be the first pairing out when racing begins.
“We have lane choice over Terry in Rd. 1 so that’s a nice advantage to have,” Lagana said. “Terry just went to the final and they’ve had a good car. Our main goal is to have a lot of fun. It’s our last race of the year so we want to represent Magic Dry well and enjoy every minute.”
Doug Kalitta, who earned the No. 5 spot in the field with a 3.727 at 327.59 mph, will be the first obstacle in Palmer’s path.
“Luckily, Dom’s car ran two 3.76s and a 3.77 and we use the same clutches and the same everything so we have some great data to work from,” said Palmer, who also works with points leader Steve Torrence. “Between all three of these cars, we will all work together and get some big brainstorming going on. I feel confident for tomorrow.
“Q1 we went out about 200 feet and shook the tires. With all of the rain and stuff leading into the race around here, we probably underestimated the track and missed it a little bit and shook into tire smoke. Friday night in Q2, we ran a. 3.78, which was a good run but we did have to be a little conservative to make sure we got down the track since we didn’t go down in Q1. That was a good run to go into today with.
“In Q3 we were trying to run a 3.74 but it smoked the tires again about 250 feet out there but we had better numbers to the 330 mark than we did on the 3.78 run so we knew we were more aggressive. We calmed it down for Q4, went back up there and actually we were a little surprised. Everything was the same but it made more power, revved up higher, drove through the clutch and still ran a 3.82. It really wore a lot of clutch. If we can get our clutch wear under control then we will be okay for tomorrow.”