Houston Densham Round 1 Story

Hoover Trims Densham in Round 1 HOUSTON (Nov. 2) -- The storyline remains agonizingly the same for NEC/AAA Auto Club Funny Car pilot Gary Densham. Once again, at this weekend's Second Annual Matco Tools Supernationals at Houston Raceway Park, ...

Hoover Trims Densham in Round 1

HOUSTON (Nov. 2) -- The storyline remains agonizingly the same for NEC/AAA Auto Club Funny Car pilot Gary Densham. Once again, at this weekend's Second Annual Matco Tools Supernationals at Houston Raceway Park, Densham turned in a solid qualifying performance only to suffer a marginal first-round defeat.

Losing a race isn't the back-breaker for Densham and his team. After all, professional drag racing is designed to deliver just one winner at the end of each event. It's the way Densham has been losing all season long that's disheartening. In a virtual carbon copy of so many races this year, Densham lost to Hoover by the smallest margin of any race in any professional category -- this time by a mere two inches.

The official numbers saw Hoover nip Densham on the scoreboard with a lap of 5.083 seconds at 254.95 mph to Densham's 5.119-second pass at 298.80 mph. The race turned into a photo finish due to Hoover's car dropping several cylinders near the finish line, which caused his motor to shut off prematurely. The finish was shown over and over on the giant instant-replay televisions, which inadvertently served as a painful reminder to Team NEC/AAA of the frustration this season has brought. Many of Densham's red, white and blue-clad mechanics averted their eyes or closed them all together in a vain attempt to avoid the disheartening facts.

"If the race track was a couple of inches longer we would have won," Densham said. "It was a great race. I got the jump on him at the line (0.550-second reaction to Hoover's 0.583-second start) and then he eased past me and then I was catching him at the other end. I just ran out of track. Gee, another first-round loss where our time would have won half the races out there. Imagine that. When I asked earlier in the year how many times this could happen to one team, I didn't actually want to find out on my own.

"At least we're going down fighting every week. I'm not giving many races away by smoking the tires or having the engine let go. We're battling every round and that's a real testament to our team. You know I wanted to do well in Texas because both of our primary sponsors have strong business ties in this state. A lot of NEC and AAA of Texas folks live here or in Dallas and most of them were out at the track cheering us on. I would've loved to have given all of us a reason to celebrate. One day soon, I will."

Densham now heads for the National Hot Rod Association's season finale at his home track in Pomona, Calif. Earlier this year, Densham ran the first four-second pass of his career at Pomona, which automatically made him a member of the Castrol 4-Second Club. Densham also reached the semifinals of that race, his best finish of the season.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham