Gainesville Elusive Win on Densham's Mind

Elusive win on Densham's mind GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Mar. 12) -- Professional driver Gary Densham has won drag races around the world. The high school auto shop teacher, who pilots the NEC/Auto Club of Southern Calif. Nitro Funny Car on the...

Elusive win on Densham's mind

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Mar. 12) -- Professional driver Gary Densham has won drag races around the world. The high school auto shop teacher, who pilots the NEC/Auto Club of Southern Calif. Nitro Funny Car on the National Hot Rod Association circuit, has recorded wins all over the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand and Australia. "I just might be the best-traveled drag racer in the world," Densham often jokes.

Yet behind all of those Frequent Flyer miles, victory in the NHRA has continued to elude the 52-year-old Californian. It's becoming a bit of a sticking point with Densham and his team of former students - one they'd like to erase next weekend at the 30th Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

"When we record that first win in the NHRA it will be a great moment for our team," Densham said. "The guys have been working so hard at every race. They deserve it. I've personally experienced winning at several different levels, but this group I've got now hasn't.

"The good news is that we are in the best position ever to win a race. In the past, we were on a smaller budget and the parts attrition of going four rounds in one day was a big disadvantage. Now, with the backing of NEC and the Auto Club of Southern Calif. we can easily go the distance at every race. That gives you a lot of confidence."

Densham has come oh-so-close to winning a national event on several occasions. Six times he has fought through to the final round of elimination racing only to have the door to Victory Circle slammed in his face. Such was the case in early February at the 1999 season opener in Pomona, Calif. when Densham blew past eight-time champion John Force and perennial contenders Ron Capps and Dale Creasy to reach the finals of the Winternationals before Tony Pedregon successfully denied Densham a much-anticipated hometown celebration.

"I get ribbed about going to the finals six times without a win and I remind people that it took (John) Force nine tries to win his first race," Densham said. "I'm so happy when I get to the finals. I mean, you have to be in the finals to have a chance to win so getting there is a big part of the battle. Plus every round you win counts and reaching the finals adds up pretty nice in the points standings. We've come this far, a win can't be too far off. We'll just keep after it."

Despite any new additions to the trophy case, Densham's ability to contend at every event has him comfortably in fourth place in the Winston Championship points standings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Densham