he realization she won’t be among the 10 Funny Car drivers competing for the 2008 POWERade Series championship didn’t find Melanie Troxel gnashing her teeth in disgust or stomping around in a sullen mood.
Nope, that’s not her style. She approaches it as an opportunity to continue to improve instead of an opportunity lost.
“It’s interesting,” said Troxel. “People almost feel like it’s a wasted season if you don’t make the top 10. But, in reality, if you don’t finish in the top three or four, then I’m not sure it matters if you finish fifth or 15th.
“I would rather go out and win a couple of races this year than be able to make the top 10 but finish 10th and not win any races. It’s more important to me to have race wins. Nobody’s going to remember who finished fifth or 10th come five years from now. But if you were able to go out and win several races and be a dominant team in the last part of the season, that’s something I think our Gotham City Racing team would definitely be proud of.”
With that in mind, she has a positive outlook on not only the three remaining races in the 18-race Countdown to 10, but the six events that will end the season. It begins with the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, moves to Reading, Pa., Aug. 15-17, and concludes at Indianapolis, Aug. 29-Sept. 1.
Troxel is 14th in points, too far from the top 10 to be included in the Countdown to 1 playoff picture. Her first year at the controls of the GCR Dodge Charger R/T has not been what she hoped for, but it does include a victory at Bristol (Tenn., May 18), a No. 1 qualifying position and a solid team that should continue to evolve into a consistent threat to win elimination rounds and races.
A year ago, when only the top eight moved into the title round, Troxel finished ninth in Top Fuel and won at Memphis and was runner-up at Richmond (Va.) in the Countdown to the Championship round.
“It has been a year full of changes for the Gotham City Racing team,” said Troxel. “We’ve gone through the change with me going from Top Fuel dragsters to running Funny Cars and being a part of this team. Our original sponsor pulled out just weeks before we were headed for testing and Roger Burgess came on as a partner. Roger recently became the sole owner of the team.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to do your best work amidst so much change and uncertainty.”
The crew, led by co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, hasn’t altered its approach throughout the first 15 races.
“I think the guys have done a great job of holding everything together and staying together as a team,” Troxel said. “We have a very good race car, we just don’t have the consistency yet of going down the track on every pass. But I think we are all very optimistic about what this team can do and we are looking forward to proving that we are a better team than the results we’ve been getting for the last few races.
“Not qualifying at four of the first six races put us in a tough position,” Troxel continued. “Certainly we’ve turned that around and the car is much more competitive than it was at the time, but we started out in such a hole. We needed to make up so much ground to get into the top 10 that it was a pretty tall task. I still think it was achievable. We haven’t quite lived up to what we hoped to do over the last five races but we still have a competitive team and we intend to go out and win at least one more race this season.
“I think we are definitely capable of doing that. I think that is the focus of the team – go out and win races. Maybe this is something we should have done all along, not worried about points or making it into the top 10. Basically, if you win races it will all take care of itself.”