Las Vegas II: Gary Densham preview

U.S. Nationals Champ Densham Hopes To Close on a High Note Auto Club Ford Driver Seeks Second Win at Las Vegas LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Oct. 29-31) -- Like so many other kids and kids-at-heart, Gary Densham is dressing up this week for ...

U.S. Nationals Champ Densham Hopes To Close on a High Note
Auto Club Ford Driver Seeks Second Win at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Oct. 29-31) -- Like so many other kids and kids-at-heart, Gary Densham is dressing up this week for Halloween.

The driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang could have come to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway dressed as Dracula or the Wolfman or Osama Bin Laden or any of hundreds of other fiends and fanatics, both real and imaginary.

Densham, however, was looking for something a little out of the ordinary, something that not only would give him a shot at the "best costume" award but would stamp him as an original.

As a result, he decided to come as the winner of drag racing's oldest, richest and most presitigious single event, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals contested each Labor Day at Indianapolis, Ind.

Oh, wait, that's no costume. Densham IS the U.S. Nationals Champion. In fact, at 57, he is the oldest driver EVER to win the event and only the fifth to double-up by also winning the Skoal Showdown bonus race on the same weekend.

Now that's the kind of costume that could earn the former high school auto shop teacher a treat instead of a trick as the the 2004 season winds down with the fourth running of the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals.

Densham, who will leave John Force Racing at season's end to return to his former role as both driver and owner of one of the sport's top independent Funny Car teams, will be one of the favorites this week in an event in which boss and teammate John Force most certainly will clinch an unprecedented 13th career championship.

Winner of the spring race in 2002, Densham set the current LVMS track speed record for Funny Cars last spring when he was clocked at 327.27 mph.

Six times a runner-up, but never a winner, before coming to JFR in 2001, Densham has won eight times during his collaboration with Force, the Auto Club and crew chief Jimmy Prock twice in each of his four seasons.

"You know, it'd be great to close it out by winning the last two races," Densham said, "and I think we have a car that can do that."

Indeed, Densham may have the second best car in the category behind only Force's Castrol GTX Start Up Mustang which earlier this year set the national record for quarter mile time and speed at 4.665 seconds, 333.58 mph.

"With Jimmy Prock, you always know you've got a shot," Densham said. "He's one of the great young crew chiefs in the sport and it's been one of the highlights of my career to have worked with him the last four years."

Presently sixth in the POWERade point standings, Densham still has hopes of at least equaling his best ever finish (fourth in 2002) but knows that a strong showing at LVMS is mandatory.

"We need a treat and not a trick, that's for sure," he said.

- www.johnforceracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Densham