Better Late than Never

While one was invisible
through the first third of
the season, it just seemed
like the other was invisible.

That all changed on Sunday
when Dave Connolly
and Melanie Troxel found
the winner?s circle at the
O?Reilly Thunder Valley
Nationals in Bristol.

Connolly was sidelined
sans sponsor until the sixth
race of the year, but since
signing with Charter Communications
he?s made an
immediate impact, highlighted
by Sunday?s win
that moved him up to 14th
place in Pro Stock.

The story for Troxel was
a different one. She had a
sponsor ? ProCare Rx ?
but in her first season competing
in Funny Car the
former Top Fueler had
struggled mightily with
four DNQs and three firstround

But Sunday, the four-time
winner in Top Fuel picked
up her first round-win and
next thing you know she?s
celebrating her first race
win in the ultra-competitive
Funny Car class.

And she became the second
woman in three races to
reach the FC winner?s circle
? remarkable when you
consider that before Ashley
Force?s win in Atlanta on
April 27 there had never
been a female winner in FC
in the history of the sport.

Troxel jumped up from
20th to 15th place with the
win and although she?s still
four-plus rounds behind
10th-place Del Worsham,
she?s inserted herself back
into the playoff picture.

Her opponent in the
Funny Car final, Mike Neff,
made one of the biggest
moves, jumping into the
Top 10 for the first time by
steering the Old Spice Ford
Mustang to a second consecutive
runner-up finish.

In Top Fuel, there were
no changes in the Top 10.

The Staging Lane
What?s next: O?Reilly
NHRA Summer Nationals
When: May 30 – June 1
Where: Heartland Park
ON TV: ESPN2HD, Qualifying
5:30 – 8 p.m. on Saturday;
Race 4 – 7 p.m. ET
on Sunday.
Notable: This race marks
the halfway point of the 18-
race regular season ?
Jack Beckman?s second
consecutive DNQ knocked
him out of the Top 10 for
the first time all season ?
Tony Schumacher has
been in first place wire-towire
this season ? Greg
Anderson regained the
points lead in Pro Stock ?
Mike Neff made his first
appearance in the Top 10.

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