KRISTA BALDWIN TO DRIVE FOR SCOTT PALMER RACING IN DALLAS
By nature, third-generation Top Fuel drag racer Krista Baldwin is as giddy as any nitro pilot has ever been. But, these days, she's got a little extra giddy-up.
Baldwin has been named Scott Palmer's substitute driver for the upcoming NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex in October. The appointment couldn't come at a better time for Baldwin, who has been burning the midnight oil in search of a new chassis for her Top Fuel operation.
Baldwin will drive Palmer's Professional Bull Riders-sponsored entry.
Traditionally, the Texas Motorplex's Stampede of Speed has been a Palmer showcase event, but following an August 20, 2023, accident behind the wheel of his Studezilla X Nitro doorslammer, he was left on the sidelines with injuries suffered in the accident.
Before the accident, Baldwin had approached Palmer about running his car for the Dallas weekend.
"I had sponsor obligations in Dallas, and unfortunately, the ride that I had set up, the owner decided not to let me drive that race," Baldwin explained. "So I was in scramble mode, and so I started calling all my friends with Top Fuel cars to see who would let me drive at the Stampede.
"And we called Scott Palmer. Scott Palmer is like, "Man, this sounds like a good idea."
"But at the time, Stampede of Speed is Scott Palmer's race. He is the star of that show. And he's like, "Man, I don't know." Because he has the PBR sponsorship, he has Jacob McNeal driving for him. He's like, "Let me figure it out, and let me see how we can make this work."
Then, the accident at Mid-America Raceway made up his mind for him.
"He called me back up the next week and is like, 'Well, I don't think I'm going to be able to drive, so I would like you to drive the PBR car," Baldwin recalled.
Palmer didn't have to give her time to think about it or ask a second time.
"To drive a car that has a major sponsor like PBR and a whole organization, I mean, it's a dream come true in this scenario," Baldwin said. "Granted, it sucks that Scott got into that accident, but maybe a little bit of a blessing in disguise for at least me. And it'll be cool to race with Scott Palmer. He's the coolest of the cool."
Baldwin still owns a Top Fuel team but admits she's had to make tough decisions on the business said of things lately. She's no longer content, just to show up and qualify and hope for the best.
"The bottom line is I need a new chassis," Baldwin said. "I can go to a race. I have a full Top Fuel operation, but I'm only going to be able to go 3.85. And you know, in this day and age in this current Top Fuel state, a 3.85 won't even get you on the board.
"I've been actively looking for a chassis. It's just unfortunate because all the teams right now don't necessarily have a spare chassis to sell, or they're not upgrading to a new chassis until the end of this year. So I've been stuck in a pickle, but I still have my sponsor obligations. I still have to figure out what's making this financially make sense for me and my partners, and renting another car is the answer for right now."
The car Baldwin will drive promises to deliver a career-best for her.
"I mean, man, I have a good feeling that when I go down to Dallas, that'll be my first taste of a 3.7-second run, and I am over the moon excited," Baldwin said. "I cannot wait to feel what 3.7 seconds is going to feel like."
Baldwin understands jumping from a career-best 3.817 to the 3.70's can be a quantum leap.
"It's been tough to get my mind around it, but watching the race cars, especially this last weekend in Maple Grove, seeing the current state of Top Fuel, a 3.70 is where you need to be comfortably," Baldwin said. "Obviously, to be competitive, you need to have those low 3.70 runs, but running a mid-3.70 or high 3.70 is going to get me on the map, and it's going to give me a chance to outrun some of these big dogs.
But to physically actually do it, mentally, I am so excited because it's still a complete unknown. How fast is this really going to feel? Is it going to be totally different? I'm not sure yet."