There’s an awful lot on the line this weekend for Scott Palmer, driver of Tommy Thompson’s Magic Dry Top Fueler. Not only is he racing at his sponsor’s event, the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals, but he’s fighting for not only a first win and also what would be his third straight appearance in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, something he knows never would have been possible before Thompson came into his life.
“You go back four years ago and there was not even a slim chance we were going to win many rounds, let alone a race,” Palmer admits. “Now we’re representing a title sponsor at a race. I never in my life thought this would happen.”
Palmer and Thompson bonded over their mutual drag-boat racing backgrounds and the relationship has grown and blossomed to the point where Palmer now has all of the parts and financial support he needs to compete with the sport’s elite.
“To have your sponsor/friend be the title sponsor of the race you are going to is pretty impressive and a little bit overwhelming sometimes. We [did] a lot of the stuff that you see guys like Ron Capps doing like the media events and extra TV spots and radio call-ins. Let’s face it: without the big sponsor on the side of your car, they don’t go to you to do these kind of things. That’s a big deal. It makes you want to do good for the people who help you get here — the crew, Tommy, everyone who ever helped you get here.”
Palmer sits just six points out of the 10th and final playoff berth, chasing rookie Austin Prock and, just ahead of Prock and within striking distance, Terry McMillen. A win this weekend would not only reward Thompson for his years of support but go a long way towards helping his Countdown bid.
Palmer is closing in on that first victory, having reached his second career final round a few weeks ago in Epping, where he lost to points leader Steve Torrence –- certainly no shame in that -– but Palmer will be the first to tell you that he’s not counting points as much as he is focused on getting to that first winner’s circle, knowing that the wins take care of points and not the other way around.
“We’ve been working towards running harder on race day and our whole mindset is we’re trying to win a race,” Palmer said. “To win a race, you have to win some rounds, so that thinking is only going to help you. Our goals are different this year and we’re trying to get more aggressive in the summertime conditions. We plan on taking that shot to win.
“I said from the start of the year that winning a race is the goal — not points,” he emphasized. “I want to do it for Tommy. Look at the opportunity he has given me. Nobody gets that opportunity when you come up like we did. I want to get him a trophy. That’s the goal. Everything in our trailer has been checked and all you can ask for is an opportunity to win a race. I feel like we have a car that can do that, and that’s pretty impressive. Even if you come close, you’re going to win rounds and that’s going to put you in the Countdown.”
Palmer put together two nice runs Friday, a 3.86 followed by a strong 3.76 that has him slotted in the No. 9 spot entering Friday,