Bristol, TN’s Thunder Valley has always been good to ProCare Rx driver Melanie Troxel. The site of her first funny car win in 2008, came after a long rain delay, and when this Sunday’s rain postponed the start of eliminations, it was dejavu for Troxel, who again returned to Bristol Dragway’s victory lane, winning the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race at the Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.
“I like Bristol, and I don’t mind the rain,” Troxel said. “I can’t quite say I like the rain, but rain and Bristol seem to work well for me. I think I learned back in ’08 when I won here in Funny Car and we were in the winner’s circle at midnight to have a lot more patience with the rain. It worked well for me that day, and I’ve never quite forgotten that. There’s something to having some stamina for the rain. It makes for a long day when it rains and then stops; you can’t quite get into the rhythm that you’re used to on Sunday mornings. You’ve got to have some patience with it. It seems to work out well for me.”
Troxel was competing in her second Pro Mod race behind the wheel of R2B2 Racing’s turbocharged Corvette, a combination many in the series baulked at when team owner Roger Burgess first introduced it.
But the team continued to develop it, and Troxel posted the fastest Pro Mod run in history with it in the series’ most recent race in Englishtown, N.J.
Now, Troxel and the R2B2 team hoist a coveted Wally as proof of the car’s capability and competitiveness within the pro modified ranks.
“This engine combination, this car is something that Roger Burgess has been working on for several years,” Troxel said. “He knew this was going to be a great combination for the sport when a lot of other people laughed and didn’t believe this car would run good. He stuck with it. We’ve known this car could win races all year long. We just had to get some of the kinks worked out of it. I’m very proud to be the one who has been able to bring this car to the winner’s circle and show everybody what it’s capable of.”
Troxel, too, showed what she is capable of. In the final against Danny Rowe, Troxel had a .028 reaction time and ran a pass of 5.928 at 250.83, while Rowe left early.
“It’s been a rough year for me,” Troxel said. “I’m keeping it in perspective – I’m still racing cars for a living, and that’s great. But we came out and DNQ’d five races in a row in the Funny Car and weren’t really having a lot of success with the Pro Mod. It just makes it harder. You have to really focus, stick with it and keep a positive attitude.”
Before knocking off Rowe, Troxel had to face R2B2 teammate Leah Pruett-LeDuc in the seminals. Troxel picked up the win with a pass of 5.976 at 252.19 mph.
“When you have five Pro Mod cars like we do, chances are you’re going to come up against your teammates,” Troxel said. “It’s funny, it’s hard to say if you try harder against your teammates, but if you look at reaction times when we race each other, we tend to have some of our best times. There’s a little bit of bragging rights among R2B2 teammates.
In funny car, Troxel piloted the ProCare Rx Toyota past Tim Wilkerson in the first round with a solid run of 4.148 seconds at 309.70 mph. She then ran a 4.150 at 306.46 mph pass but fell to eventual runner-up Jack Beckman.
“We’ve made huge improvements with the Funny Car,” Troxel said. “The disappointing side is we needed another round win. For us to make it into the Top 10 of the points standings, we’ve got to really get on a run and start making some round wins to make up that ground. We needed another round win, but it’s hard to be too disappointed when we ran a .14 and then a .15 and lost in the second round by .016 seconds.
“That’s just a good race. It’s not anything to be down on ourselves about. We ran a good race, and it didn’t work out in our favor this time. But we’ve got a great race team right now. No complaints.”
Troxel is scheduled to pull double duty again in Norwalk, Ohio at the June 24-26 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.