Veteran Hopes To Win Auto Club Finals in Auto Club Ford POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 11-14) -- Think of Gary Densham as a supporting actor in a drama starring John Force, the reigning and 13-time NHRA Funny Car Champion. It's a role he...
Veteran Hopes To Win Auto Club Finals in Auto Club Ford
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 11-14) -- Think of Gary Densham as a supporting actor in a drama starring John Force, the reigning and 13-time NHRA Funny Car Champion.
It's a role he capably has filled since first he came on board as driver of the third of the John Force Racing Ford Mustangs.
In fact, Densham's eight victories in the Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang, two in each of the last four seasons, helped the team extend to 12 the number of consecutive years it has won the NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship.
During that time, the veteran also set a national speed record, twice led the driver standings and, this year, became just the fifth Funny Car driver ever to win the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and the Skoal Showdown bonus race on the same weekend.
However, that chapter in his career will speed to a conclusion this week with the season-ending 40th annual Auto Club Finals at Pomona Raceway. It will be his last race with Team Force; his last with crew chief Jimmy Prock.
Next year, the former high school auto shop teacher hopes to be back in a starring role with his own car, one for which he currently is seeking sponsorship.
While this week's finale will be bittersweet, Densham is determined to make his last ride a memorable one.
"What could be better than winning the Auto Club race with the Auto Club Funny Car on my home track in my last race for John Force?" Densham asked.
Although he is winless in 38 previous appearances at Pomona Raceway, a track which began life as a back parking lot at the Los Angeles County Fairplex, Densham is optimistic.
"With Jimmy Prock, you always know you've got a shot," he 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."
Moreover, he is returning to a track on which he began the season as runner-up in the K&N Filters Winternationals, losing to Jerry Toliver in a final round upset.
"We had a really fast hot rod," Densham said of his season-opening performance, "and I think we'll have one this weekend, too.
"You know, there's only been one race all year (the Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.) where we didn't have a car that was capable of winning.
"The problem is that the class is so competitive right now that you can't make a single mistake either driving or tuning. If you do, they make you pay for it."
Densham will take the first step toward making his exit dream a reality with the start of pro qualifying on Thursday. Single qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday plus two on Saturday will set the 16-car starting lineup for Sunday's 11 a.m. finals.