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Pair of semifinal finishes highlight Team Magic Dry's day in Houston  

Pair of semifinal finishes highlight Team Magic Dry's day in Houston  

First round win of young season gives Scott Palmer a boost

 

HOUSTON (April 14) -- Although no one ended up clutching a trophy Sunday, smiles still came pretty easy for the trio of drivers sponsored by racing legend Tommy Thompson and his Magic Dry Organic Absorbent product. Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House and Top Alcohol Dragster pilot Shane Conway both reached the semifinals, while Top Fuel favorite Scott Palmer found a little of last year's mojo by winning his first elimination round of the season.

 "We finally got out of the first round and got some of our mojo back," Palmer said. "I was definitely singing Bee Gee songs in my head when I was staging in Round 1 and it worked because we got the win. I tried it again in the second round but I was a little distracted and had a bad light. I must have been in the wrong part of the song.

"Still, it was nice to get out of the first round and get to the second round for my crew. Half the team is new this year and that was the first time they got to experience a win and what it takes to turn the car around on race day and get ready for another round. They performed flawlessly and I'm super proud." 

The first-round win started with Palmer posting a great .054-second reaction time against Billy Torrence. He never looked back from there, running a steady 3.807 at 319.82 mph ahead of Torrence's struggling 6.295 at 116.08 mph.

Up next was Clay Millican, who gained a .031-second reaction time advantage and raced away to the win with a 3.730 at 319.82 mph to Palmer's 3.802 at 305.22 mph.

"For sure we wanted to go a little quicker but I shut it off a little early when he got close to the finish line and I could see I didn't have a chance," Palmer said. "There’s no reason to run it out the back door if you know you’re not going to get there first. I used to call it 'driving with my foot attached to my wallet.' Now I call it, ‘driving with my foot attached to Tommy’s wallet.' It looks like it was going to run a 3.77 or 3.78 so we still weren’t going to win that round. It was the right decision to save the parts.

"We learned a lot this weekend and we’ve got our clutch program back online. Now we can go to Charlotte and come out swinging." 

In Top Fuel Harley, House knew he had an immediate chance to move up in the rankings if he beat first-round foe Tii Tharpe, who started the weekend just nine points ahead of House. A 6.364 at 218.48 mph did the job as Tharpe got out of shape and coasted to a 15.059 at 42.50 mph.

That put House in the semifinals where his bike spun the rear tire early in the run, handing Scott a ticket to the final with a 6.364 at 213.27 mpg to House's surrendering 8.445 at 129.55 mph.

"Beating Tii first round was big," House said. "They were ahead of us in the points and that's a great team so it was a big relief to get that win. Then I saw that (Doug) Vancil got beat first round too so I knew that would help us in the points as well. I really needed to go into the finals to take full advantage of those two going out early but it just didn’t work out."

Conway reached the Top Alcohol Dragster semifinals by beating Mike Bucher in Round 1 with a 5.625 at 244.96 mph to Bucher's 5.651 at 257.87 mph. He then stole one from Jackie Fricke with a .043-second holeshot, 5.295 at 267.69 mph to Fricke's quicker but losing 5.271 at 276.86 mph.

In the semis, Conway got a .033-second jump on Troy Coughlin Jr. but lost traction soon after the launch and lost to Coughlin's 5.260 at 277.26 mph.

"Qualifying started off well with a 5.34, then a 5.35," Conway said. "We slowed down to a 5.41 in the final qualifying session and we thought it was something we had done. We tried to fix it in the first round but, obviously, we didn’t because it slowed down even more, although we still were able to get the win and move on. 

"We had a good light and a decent 5.29 against Fricke to get that win and then had another good light in the semifinals but obviously we just had too much power early in that run and it smoked the tires. We will go to Charlotte in two weeks and try again."

Magic Dry teammates Scott Palmer, Rickey House, primed for Houston race day

Magic Dry teammates Scott Palmer, Rickey House, primed for Houston race day

HOUSTON (April 13) -- Top Fuel dragster driver Scott Palmer and Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House successfully placed their Magic Dry Organic Absorbent-branded race machines in the elimination field of this weekend's 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil. 

Unlike most race weekends, the final professional qualifying session ended up being the best of the four due to a weather system moving through the area that brought cooler temperatures. While House was able to post his best run of the meet in Q4, Palmer couldn't capitalize due to a mechanical issue, but he chose to accept that turn of fate as a bit of good luck.

"That last run we were trying to run a low 3.70 like everyone else but we had a clutch malfunction," Palmer explained. "A piece in the clutch broke and that killed the run. Basically, stuff like that is just about unavoidable so there are two ways to look at it. You can look at it as bad luck or you can luck at as good luck because it didn’t happen tomorrow in the first round of eliminations."

Instead, Palmer rested on his opening pass from Friday, a 3.771 at 321.81 mph, as his run of record, placing him opposite Texan Billy Torrence, who posted a 3.720 at 325.92 mph in Q4. Palmer enjoys a tuning alliance with Torrence and his son Steve, the reigning Top Fuel champion. 

"Unfortunately, we race Billy in the first round," Palmer said. "Those guys are our friends and they help us with so much. Plus, that’s a consistently fast car. Either way, we will still go up there and do our best. You just never know in this sport. If it stays cooler, we'll run our best of the weekend tomorrow morning. Hopefully it's enough to beat Billy.

"It’s been a good weekend for us so far. We started off with a 3.77 in Q1, made some changes Friday night that didn’t quite work, but at least we got to try some things and still ran a 3.80. Earlier today we tried to run another 3.77 and ran a 3.79. Thankfully we got the last session in before the rain, because otherwise the clutch malfunction would have happened tomorrow first round."

Teammate House was able to ride the cooler air offered in Q4 to a great 6.288 at 222.11 mph, which jumped him from sixth to third place on the eight-bike grid in Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley action.

"I'm really happy because I felt like we hadn't really shown what the Magic Dry bike could do until that last session," House said. "I was pleased with the way the bike was running but it feels really good to step up like that, especially right before we switch over to eliminations. 

"What we do tomorrow will be a lot like it was just then because it's supposed stay cooler like this but the thing is, if the sun comes out, the track may get hotter. The bike is running good and as long as I don’t do something stupid I like our chances. The only thing I don't like is how windy it's been all weekend but I just can’t think about that. I just have to go out there and do what I do. 

A resident of Humble, Texas, which is 40 miles west of the track, House will have all the hometown support he needs when he opens against North Carolina's Tii Tharpe, who qualified sixth with a 6.338 at 226.13 mph.

 

 

Magic Dry Top Fuel Harley piloted by Rickey House

 

Summoning John Travolta, Top Fuel ace Scott Palmer wants his mojo back in Houston

Summoning John Travolta, Top Fuel ace Scott Palmer wants his mojo back in Houston

HOUSTON (April 10) -- Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, Top Fuel pilot Scott Palmer didn't summon Glenn Frey and the Eagles, as so many others have in that exact location, but the rather odd combination of John Travolta and the Bee Gees. It all makes perfect sense for Palmer, the driver of the 11,000-horsepower Magic Dry Organic Absorbent dragster, as he explains.

"I'm driving over from Vegas and I stopped in Winslow Arizona because, well it's Winslow Arizona from the Eagle's song Take It Easy," Palmer said. "But I didn't exactly feel like taking it easy because we have a great racecar that just hasn't shown the world what we're capable of this year.

"So I'm in Winslow and instead of seeing a girl in a flatbed Ford, I see the Mojo Coffee Company and it hits me…we need to get our Mojo back. That's been my goal ever since. It started in Winslow and I bought enough Mojo coffee for everyone and we're gonna be drinking lots of it. Plus, that store was owned by Navajo Indians and they really believe in mojo. It’s a spiritual thing to them, and now me too."

Palmer has a point. His dragster has run well all season but they just haven’t caught a break on race day just yet. The only thing that seems to be missing from their successful 2018 campaign, then ended in a second consecutive top-10 finish, is a dash of better luck.

"We had a great race last weekend in Vegas other than the results don’t show it, which has happened a few too many times this year," Palmer said. "Had we been in any other race that first round, we would have advanced, but in our group, everyone runs their best pass of the weekend against us. That's a loss of mojo right there. 

"Our car ran exactly what we wanted it to run and we don't feel we need to change anything other than getting our mojo back. I’m going to change our luck this weekend."

Currently ranked 12th, just 54 markers out of the NHRA Mello Yello Series top 10, Palmer says even his current perch in the points has meaning.

"If you Google how to get your mojo back, No. 12 on the list is get your swagger walk back, and they have a video of John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever walking down the street like a boss," Palmer said. "You gotta watch him walk. He knows he has mojo. I'm talking to NHRA about changing my intro music right now to the Bee Gee's Stayin' Alive. I don’t know if I can do that in Texas without getting beat up but I'm willing to try.

"I’m also stopping at every Sonic Drive-In I see going across Texas. I love Texas because they have plenty of Sonics everywhere. That's my place. Mojo Coffee and Sonic has to work."