Densham Leads Team Castrol Fords in Season Opener Highlights: Veteran Gary Densham drove the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang to the final round of the season-opening 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals but...
Densham Leads Team Castrol Fords in Season Opener
Highlights: Veteran Gary Densham drove the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang to the final round of the season-opening 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals but couldn't close the deal at the Los Angeles County Fairplex.
Although Densham forged a solid .061 second starting line advantage in his final round duel with the Toyota of Jerry Toliver, his Ford ultimately was victimized by tire shake that slowed it to 4.955 after it had sped to times of 4.763, 4.757 and 4.775 seconds in a dominating performance in the first three rounds.
As for John Force, the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, he deserved a better fate after qualifying No. 1 (4.747 seconds) for the 118th time in his storied career and pushing his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang to times of 4.843 and 4.789 seconds in the first two rounds.
The latter time would have won any other match in the second round -- except the one against Densham. Despite the early exit, Force left the Fairplex in much better position than he did a year ago. He will go to Phoenix for this week's CSK Nationals in fifth place in NHRA POWERade points.
Rookie Eric Medlen, a sensation during qualifying and the No. 2 starter at 4.783, also succumbed to tire shake problems in a first round duel with Toliver.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 1 at 4.746 seconds, 324.36 mph.
Race results: Beat Cruz Pedregon; lost to Gary Densham.
Notable: Extended qualifying streak to 324 consecutive events and earned his 118th No. 1 qualifier award.
Quotable: "We've got three good hot rods and they're just going to get better. I felt bad for Gary because he's always wanted to win this race, but he'll be in the hunt at Phoenix -- and so will Eric and I will be, too. I'm excited." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.783 seconds, 320.58 mph.
Race results: Lost to Jerry Toliver.
Notable: Led the qualifying after three of four sessions and posted career best quarter mile numbers in his professional debut.
Quotable: "It shook really hard at the start. I thought I could drive through it. I pedaled it (feathered the throttle) it but by the time it started to recover, Toliver came by me and I knew it was over. I have a lot to learn, but it's fun. I can't wait for Phoenix." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny
Qualifying position and performance: No. 8 at 4.847, 321.42 mph.
Race results: Beat Phil Burkart Jr., John Force, Gary Scelzi; lost to Jerry Toliver.
Notable: Was quickest in each of the first two rounds while reaching the final round for the 16th time in his career.
Quotable: "This one really hurt. This is my home track and this was the best chance I had to win here in 36 races. But at least we know we've got a fast hot rod. (Crew Chief) Jimmy (Prock) made a lot of changes after qualifying and they paid off." -- GARY DENSHAM.
Next events: CSK Nationals, Phoenix, Ariz., March 5-7; Mac Tools Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla., March 19-21; Summitracing.com Nationals, Las Vegas, Nev., April 2-4; O'Reilly Spring Nationals, Houston, Texas, April 16-18.