Oklahoma native takes points lead into Tulsa In many ways, the first three races of the 2009 Nitro Jam season have been like a dream come true for Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Cary Goforth. For a driver who had never even seen a final ...
Oklahoma native takes points lead into Tulsa
In many ways, the first three races of the 2009 Nitro Jam season have been like a dream come true for Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Cary Goforth.
For a driver who had never even seen a final round prior to this season, Goforth has made two final round appearances in three races this year including a win at the Spring Nationals in Rockingham and has also compiled an impressive 9-2 round win-loss record, by far the best of any professional in IHRA competition.
With that start, Goforth has also found himself in the Pro Stock points lead -- another first for the Holdenville, Okla. native -- and with the way he and his team have clicked in the first portion of the schedule, Goforth sees no reason that he can't continue to be a threat in the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock championship hunt as the season goes along.
"We have a really good deal going right now, so we are just going to try to keep capitalizing on what we are doing right and keep trying to improve in the areas where we are lacking a bit," Goforth said. "Everything has just come together after three years of hard work and we are having the time of our lives right now."
Even more impressive, Goforth is just a few bad breaks away from having all three Ironman trophies in his possession already this season.
"The scary thing is, if you look back at it, I should have won every race this year already," Goforth said. "I am not saying that to be egotistical, but at Baton Rouge I gave it away with a redlight in the semis and at Dallas we had a computer go down and in the finals the car was too aggressive through third gear and if we had had the computer things could have turned out differently."
But, as they say, that is why they play the game.
"I am not going to make excuses. We are just counting our blessings that we have been able to have as good of a record as we do right now," Goforth said. "We are trying to eliminate the mistakes and be more consistent. The whole crew has to be consistent; it doesn't just happen behind the wheel.
"We are looking back and seeing where we goofed up and where we can improve and that is why I have a world class crew chief that can sit back and evaluate things and talk to me and see where we can improve."
And that relationship has led to a dream start to the year.
Along with his second consecutive final round appearance, Goforth also held down the No. 1 qualifying spot for the first time in his career last weekend in Dallas before falling to veteran Frank Gugliotta in the final.
Despite not getting the win, Goforth retained the points lead and will now take a healthy 32-point advantage over Gugliotta into Tulsa for the Sooner Nationals at his self-proclaimed home track -- Tulsa Raceway Park.
"I have a lot of support here (Tulsa) and if there was ever a place that we could say we have home field advantage, it would be here," Goforth said. "We ran well here last year while everybody else was struggling and we look forward to going back.
"We test there, we know the track, and we know which lane is better. Tulsa is probably the best racing surface in the country and to be blessed with us being able to walk into here with the points lead and being from Oklahoma that is a big deal for us."
Goforth is coming off of a big weekend that saw him hold down the No. 1 qualifying spot and roll past Mark Martino and fellow Oklahoma native Richard Freeman to reach the final. Once there, Goforth met up with Gugliotta for the third time that weekend and Gugliotta managed to get the best of the 37-year old and take home the Ironman.
With the win, Gugliotta moved from fourth to second in points -- 32 markers back of Goforth -- and continued the rivalry that has developed between the two competitors.
In elimination rounds, the two Pro Stockers have met in all three races so far this year with Goforth winning two out of three.
"Frank and I have developed an interesting rivalry over the past few months. We are jawing with each other a bit and having a little fun with each other," Goforth said. "To tell you that I am not worried about Frank being on my heels would be lying, but I am not going to let that get under my skin."
But Goforth plans on putting all those distractions behind him as he prepares for a big weekend in Tulsa.
Not only is Tulsa Raceway Park the closest national track to Goforth, but it is also the track his father Dean began his racing career. Dean Goforth, owner of the two-car operation, currently sits ninth in the Pro Stock standings.
"Tulsa was always my dads home track when he was running a long, long time ago and to go there, with their world class surface and with the points lead, we are spoiled," Goforth said. "I was going to say we are blessed, but we are spoiled. To have this place so close to home is incredible."
Goforth also believes that he and his father let one slip away last season, a thought that has been looming on his mind for some time.
"Last year dad and I let a round slip away in the second round and that has been on my mind not to let that happen again," Goforth said. "We will have friends, family and employees out watching and cheering us on and we don't want to disappoint anybody. We want to have another great weekend."
Now all that is left is for Goforth to go to Tulsa and take care of business just as he has done at every race so far this season.
"Walking in there with the points lead is very important and I am very proud of that," Goforth said. "But walking out of there with the points lead, that is just as important."