Madison: Scott Geoffrion preview

Winning Pro Stock race remains highest priority for Scott Geoffrion and Nitro Fish team. ST. LOUIS, June 24, 2003 - The beginning of the drag racing season was less than auspicious for Scott Geoffrion and Hurley Blakeney's Pro ...

Winning Pro Stock race remains highest priority for Scott Geoffrion and Nitro Fish team.

ST. LOUIS, June 24, 2003 - The beginning of the drag racing season was less than auspicious for Scott Geoffrion and Hurley Blakeney's Pro Stock crew.

Geoffrion didn't qualify at Pomona, Calif., and then crashed the team's Mustang when the car's left front brake failed in the first round at Phoenix, leaving him tied for 16th with 42 points in NHRA POWERade Series standings.

Everything changed, however, when Blakeney's sleek and trim Ford Escort ZX2 became the first of its kind to enter the hotly contested Pro Stock wars in March. Since then, the determined crew has tenaciously battled its General Motors rivals. Now, with the season reaching the halfway point at the Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 27-29, at Gateway International Raceway in nearby Madison, Ill., Geoffrion sits in fifth place with 509 points.

He's been a two-time finalist, placing second to Kurt Johnson at Houston in April and second to Greg Anderson at Columbus, Ohio, June 15, while crew chief Eric Luzinksi and car builder Don Ness have massaged the new chassis and made it competitive from its first laps down the track.

"There's no factory backing here," says Geoffrion of Blakeney's Nitro Fish-sponsored racecar. "We're just an independent little team. We aren't able to test much and we don't have a lot of parts.

"I have a day job just like Hurley. We only have two full-time employees (Luzinski and crewman Nate Van Wassenhove) and we are able to knock heads with the best of them," Geoffrion continued. "I think that's saying something. We are the only non-GM product in the top five."

They also have a strong will to succeed, along with good horsepower supplied by engine builder Bob Panella Jr. If there were any doubters, back-to-back No. 2 qualifying efforts at Joliet, Ill., and Columbus were definite eye-openers.

Geoffrion admits he expected big things from the team he handpicked with the approval and financing of Blakeney, "But it would've been a little out of reach to think we'd be in the top five already," he said, "I fully expected us to be in the top 10. And it's only going to get better."

The Sears Craftsman Nationals is a night race, with qualifying at 5:15 and 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and eliminations Sunday beginning at 4:30 p.m.

"It's a blessing to be racing at night because of the daytime heat," Geoffrion commented. "I've never run eliminations at night although I have match raced at night. It will make for long days because when I race I don't sleep well anyway. My adrenalin is flowing and it gets me up early."

Winning races also is on Geoffrion's mind. He has nine career wins and 19 runner-up finishes. His last win came in 1997 at Memphis. The last time a Ford was in the NHRA winner's circle was in May 1995 when Bob Glidden drove a Ford Probe to victory in Englishtown, N.J.

"We've been able to accomplish what we have because we have a good group of people," commented Geoffrion, "and we refined it. If you do it right and work together as a group you can really do good things. We have good team chemistry. I think it's the best in the Pro Stock pits, no question about it. It's a credit to Hurley, who allowed me to put all this together."

Only three drivers have won races this season, led by Greg Anderson with five, Kurt Johnson four and Warren Johnson two. Geoffrion, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Kurt Johnson also have been runners-up twice.

It's the Nitro Fish team's goal to add Geoffrion's name to the list of 2003 winning drivers as soon as possible . . . perhaps as early as Sunday night.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Hurley Blakeney , Scott Geoffrion