Densham dons Game Face for Ohio

Densham dons Game Face for Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 9) -- Funny Car driver Gary Densham, the former high school teacher and current pilot of the NEC/Auto Club of Southern California Pontiac Firebird, is known as much for his easy going ...

Densham dons Game Face for Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 9) -- Funny Car driver Gary Densham, the former high school teacher and current pilot of the NEC/Auto Club of Southern California Pontiac Firebird, is known as much for his easy going demeanor as he is for his prowess on the quarter mile.

But as the National Hot Rod Association descends on National Trail Raceway this weekend for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, the usually affable 52-year-old from Bellflower, California will be wearing a grim look of determination in place of his regular smile. Falling out of the top 10 in the Winston championship points standings for the first time this year and registering two DNQs (did not qualify) in the last three races has definitely put a damper on Densham's spirit and has pushed his desire to succeed to new heights.

"The level of frustration reached a high point in Chicago," Densham said. "We had tested prior to the race and thought we had found some things that should have helped us. But when it came down to racing at that track when the temperatures soared and the track got a little loose, it was a whole different story.

"Not qualifying for a race really hurts. It hurts us in the points standings, it hurts the team's moral, it makes me feel bad and it just brings everybody down. I know that a lot of other teams were also struggling in Chicago but we were struggling the most. We have to be prepared for whatever conditions we encounter whenever we encounter them."

Of course, putting his new Pontiac Firebird into the Pontiac Excitement National's Winner's Circle would sooth a lot of Densham's recently inflicted pain. The 1999 season marks the first year that Densham has raced with a Pontiac Firebird body.

"If we don't do well in Columbus it won't be for lack of effort," Densham said. "My wife and I had plans to celebrate her birthday this week but after what happened in Chicago, she went home and I continued testing. We made a lot of launches and I think we figured out a lot about how this Pontiac hot rod reacts in the heat. That should definitely help us in Columbus because you know it's gonna be hot there.

"Hopefully, I can give my wife the Pontiac Excitement trophy to make up for our lost time. "

Densham has qualified for seven of nine races this season and has logged four elimination round wins. His best race was a runner-up finish at the Winternationals in Pomona, California. He is currently 12th in the Winston championship points standings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham