Gainesville: Scott Geoffrion preview

Despite being sore, Geoffrion anxious to race Blakeney's new NitroFish Ford Escort ZX2. GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2003 - When Scott Geoffrion climbs into the new Ford Escort ZX2 Pro Stock racecar sometime Tuesday or Wednesday (March 11 or 12),...

Despite being sore, Geoffrion anxious to race Blakeney's new NitroFish Ford Escort ZX2.

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2003 - When Scott Geoffrion climbs into the new Ford Escort ZX2 Pro Stock racecar sometime Tuesday or Wednesday (March 11 or 12), he doesn't expect to feel any trepidation.

In fact, he's likely to be giddy with anticipation. He and car owner Hurley Blakeney have been waiting patiently to take delivery of this one-of-a-kind drag racing entry for several months. When compared to the team's previous racecar, a larger Ford Mustang, the NitroFish Apparel-sponsored Escort ZX2 looks fast standing still.

Geoffrion thinks this car should be able to run competitive numbers with the Pontiac Grand Ams, Chevrolet Cavaliers and Dodge entries right away. But first he needed to put it through necessary shake-down runs, hence his presence at the Bradenton, Fla., quarter-mile track days before the NHRA Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 14-16, at Gainesville Raceway.

While he is eagerly awaiting the task, Geoffrion expects to still be a little sore from the wild ride and serious accident he experienced in his last run - the first round of the CSK Nationals at Phoenix, Feb. 23 - in the Mustang. A broken left front brake rotor sent the car toward the left guard wall, and then the car went across the track, crashing hard, almost head-on, into the right cement barrier.

"It happened so fast. The front end hit the wall and the back end came around and the left rear hit the wall," commented Geoffrion. "After that, things seemed to be in slow motion."

When he had the opportunity to watch the accident on television, Geoffrion said he realized "how lucky I am that I didn't get seriously injured. It was a hard impact. Someone was looking out for me. It was the first time I've ever been in a racing accident."

He couldn't estimate the speed he was traveling when it hit, but he was clocked at 199.49 mph at the end of the run. He thinks his back might ache a bit during the Gatornationals, but the soreness was diminishing each day.

"I will be wearing a HANS (Head and Neck Safety) device now," Geoffrion said. "And I expect some other Pro Stock drivers will, too. I was lucky I didn't hurt my neck.

"It's a tribute to NHRA rules and chassis builder Kim Smith that the car held up as good as it did," he added. "It's being fixed."

The Escort ZX2, meanwhile, had been under construction at Don Ness' Minneapolis-area shop since before the end of the 2002 season but, because it was a new body style, it required more time.

"We're anxious to get to Gainesville and make our first qualifying runs to see just how good the ZX2 will be," Geoffrion said. "It's smaller than the Mustang and a lot more aerodynamic. We were giving up a lot time and speed to the smaller cars because the Mustang pushed around a lot of air. I hope we have some fun at the Gatornationals."

A nine-time Pro Stock winner in 26 final rounds, Geoffrion is looking for his first trip to the finals at Gainesville. He was No. 1 qualifier at the 1992 event.

Geoffrion and the Ford ZX2 have qualifying sessions at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday prior to Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

-bnitrofish-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Hurley Blakeney , Scott Geoffrion