Englishtown: Densham ready for SuperNationals

Densham quietly holding on to second place. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Want to know a secret? Gary Densham is driving the hottest Funny Car on the NHRA circuit. People may talk about John Force, Del Worsham or Whit Bazemore, but they should be talking...

Densham quietly holding on to second place.

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Want to know a secret? Gary Densham is driving the hottest Funny Car on the NHRA circuit. People may talk about John Force, Del Worsham or Whit Bazemore, but they should be talking about Densham.

Including the latter part of the 2001 season, Densham has dominated the Funny Car category. The former high school shop teacher has logged three wins and one runner-up finishes in the previous 12 (before Atlanta) races. Not bad for a guy who went winless for more than 30 years. Densham earned his first career victory at Memphis last season and has been on a hot streak ever since.

Densham is hoping to sneak back into the winner's circle at the 33rd annual NHRA Matco Tools SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, May 16-19. Kenny Bernstein, Tony Pedregon, Richie Stevens and Matt Hines are the defending winners in their respective categories for the $2 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"Obviously, this has been a lot of fun," Densham, 55, said. "There is no doubt about it, the guys are doing a great job with the car. I had 30 years of bad breaks and right now, I seem to be getting a few good breaks here and there. Before, it seemed like when someone else's car had problems, we couldn't take advantage of that because my car had problems too. But not this year."

Densham is second in the Funny Car point standings to his team owner and fellow competitor, John Force. Densham made his debut with John Force Racing behind the wheel of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang at Gainesville, Fla., last season. It was then that Densham began to see why Force has earned 11 Funny Car championships.

"One of the reasons he is so successful is because of the group of people he has working for him," Densham said. "It sounds like a cliché, but this team runs like a well-oiled machine. (Densham's crew chief) Jimmy Prock has always been a great tuner, but now he has the right equipment and a team that has gelled well with each other."

This is not the first time Densham has been so high in the point standings - kind of.

"I was in second place about three years ago," Densham said. "Of course, that was after the Winternationals in Pomona and it only lasted until the next race. What's going on right now has not even sunk in with me yet."

Densham's win column has gone from zero to three in a few months and his confidence level has increased as well. Still, he won't be flashy about it. Densham likes being the driver of a car that is the best kept secret in the Funny Car category.

"We can't say that we are going to win another race," Densham said. "Jimmy has said it best when he tells us that all we need to do to be contenders is keep from losing in the first round. Our goal is to be consistent, concentrate on every single race and make the car go down the track as quickly as possible."

If anyone has knowledge about winning and losing, Densham is the guy. He has seen the extreme end of losing and now is getting some face time in winner's circle.

"This is a rough sport," Densham said. "So many things could go wrong. There are a million ways to lose a race and very few ways to win a race. I feel sorry for any new driver who comes into this sport expecting a great start and immediate results. It takes a lot of things to make a championship team."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Densham