POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13) — Funny Car driver Melanie Troxel’s 2011 campaign ended with a scary accident in the turn-off area Sunday afternoon at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Fortunately, no one was injured in the bizarre incident, although there was plenty of damage to Troxel’s In-N-Out Burger Toyota Solara and some support trailers parked in the back lot.
Troxel had completed her run against title contender Cruz Pedregon and was being pushed off the racetrack by a Safety Safari four-wheeler when her 8,000-horsepower machine re-fired. Although her fuel was shut off and she had the hand brake completely engaged, the power of the machine took her on a ride through some advertising inflatables, a security fence and into two unoccupied trailers.
“I’ve been driving for a long time and I can never remember something like this happening,” a clearly shaken Troxel said. “I was doing everything I could to stop the car but it was going. The only decision I made was to go right and into the inflatables instead of continuing the turn and hitting the other racecars.
“I kept thinking, ‘How much fuel can there be left in there?’ You’ll have times where it tries to cough to life but there’s no fuel and it can’t start. This was different. It just fired up and starting going. It was pretty scary because I had no idea what was behind that inflatable. I was just praying no one was back there. Thank God no one was hurt.”
It was a dramatic finish to a promising weekend. Troxel had qualified a lofty fourth with a run of 4.087 seconds at 309.70 mph. She then beat two-time world champion Tony Pedregon with a steady 4.151 at 303.64 mph. She ran another 4.15 against Cruz Pedregon, but his 4.079 at 312.28 mph gave him the win by .02 seconds.
“It’s probably a fitting ending to the year,” said Troxel, who announced earlier in the weekend that In-N-Out Burger was not renewing her contract for 2012. “We certainly didn’t have the success we were hoping for although we did make a lot of ground up on the rest of the field. We’re on the cusp of big things, I believe, but now we have to start over to a certain extent and shift our focus back to sponsorship issues.
“We have nothing in the works at the moment but obviously I want to keep racing. It’s a tough business and the economic climate is very trying at the moment. We’ll keep fighting as long as we can and hope something happens.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the fans for their support this season and throughout my career. Even today when we made a mess of things they were right there to wish us well when we returned to the pits. Hopefully, better times are straight ahead and we’ll be back for the Winternationals in February.”
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