Las Vegas II: Scott Geoffrion preview

Geoffrion's Las Vegas goal: move up in pro stock standings LAS VEGAS, Oct. 20, 2003 - Attempting to win the NHRA Pro Stock championship is about as difficult as trying to win $1 million at the nickel slots. This hotly-contested category...

Geoffrion's Las Vegas goal: move up in pro stock standings

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 20, 2003 - Attempting to win the NHRA Pro Stock championship is about as difficult as trying to win $1 million at the nickel slots.

This hotly-contested category rewards consistent, strong performances throughout the 23-race POWERade Series. Just making the 16-car fields for every race is tough. It's routine to have the 17th driver be as little as one-thousandth of a second off the pace and go home early.

Only two drivers have qualified for the first 21 races - Greg Anderson, who clinched the championship at Dallas Oct. 12, and Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is No. 2 in points.

Scott Geoffrion envies Anderson's position because that is where he wanted to be. The driver of Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2 wants to climb as high as he can in the top 10 as the season nears an end. He's 10th heading into the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 24-26, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With good performances here and Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, site of the season-ending Auto Club Finals, Nov. 6-9, he could wind up eighth. He's 10 points behind No. 8 Jim Yates, 793-783, and six behind ninth-place Bruce Allen.

"We ran good at Vegas when we raced there in April," said Geoffrion, who showed off the ZX2's eye-catching, multi-hued paint scheme then. "We had a good race package earlier so we have something we can tune to this time."

He qualified third (6.898 seconds at 199.76 mph) at The Strip in the new Ford's second race, advancing to the quarterfinals. Geoffrion has been to the finals twice, finishing second at Houston and Columbus, Ohio. He was fifth in points in June when the team began to struggle.

Their racecar was the first ZX2 built for Pro Stock and lacked predictability. Other teams were improving while crew chief Eric Luzinski, car builder Don Ness and the crew looked for consistency. Geoffrion, who qualified as high as second (twice), has been 14th, 15th and 16th in his last three races.

"That certainly makes it more difficult to get round wins when you qualify that high because you will be running against one of the top three cars in the first round," said Geoffrion. "It has been frustrating lately. We have more motors and more parts than we had at the beginning of the year and Bob Panella, our engine builder, has been finding more power, but we aren't running as good. And that is really frustrating."

The independently-financed team, Geoffrion admits, doesn't have resources for unlimited testing and a research and development program creating new cylinder heads and manifolds in the never-ending search for more horsepower.

"We would definitely like to find a sponsor to help us for next year," Geoffrion said. "We've had a very good year. We wanted to finish in the top 10 and we should, unless something unforeseen happens. Darrell Alderman is 11th but is 100 points behind us."

The Nitro Fish crew will find out just how well their ZX2 adapts to The Strip in the fall when qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday's two runs will be at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and eliminations are scheduled Sunday at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Greg Anderson , Hurley Blakeney , Bruce Allen , Scott Geoffrion