Team Densham finally finds reason to smile BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 22) -- It's been 10 races since Funny Car driver Gary Densham and his NEC/Auto Club of Southern Calif. have had a solid reason to celebrate. But the mood was noticeably improved...
Team Densham finally finds reason to smile
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 22) -- It's been 10 races since Funny Car driver Gary Densham and his NEC/Auto Club of Southern Calif. have had a solid reason to celebrate. But the mood was noticeably improved after the team finished its weekend of racing in Minnesota's vacation country with its fastest lap ever and a solid quarterfinal finish at the 18th Annual Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals.
"It's great to have something positive to talk about on Sunday," Densham said. "We've been in No Man's Land for awhile and we really needed something to show us that our work is paying off. This is a real big step in that direction. I couldn't be happier for the guys. They really deserve a reason to pat themselves on the back."
Densham's first round win Sunday was his first elimination round victory since April and his fifth of the year. By successfully qualifying for this event he also raised his season total of elimination round appearances to 12 out of 15 events.
The 52-year-old high school teacher from Bellflower, Calif. qualified in the 12th spot with a 5.118-second lap at 286.98 mph. Densham's qualifying effort matched him up against No. 5 qualifier Scotty Cannon in the first round of Sunday's elimination racing and he used a nice starting line advantage and the fastest lap of his career to win the race.
The official numbers from Round 1 show Densham leaving the starting line with a 0.519-second reaction time ahead of Cannon's 0.561-second start. The crafty veteran went on to post a 5.035-second lap at 307.30 mph against Cannon's 5.698-second, 283.13-mph pass.
"The motor-to-clutch combo we're using now really started to show promise in Sonoma," crew chief Greg Amaral said. "And we continued to improve on it this weekend. It's been a frustrating stretch for this team. We thought our problems had something to do with the five-disc clutch we tried earlier in the year but when we returned to the old four-disc clutch we were still lost. It's been a battle to get back to where we can show the promise we showed today. This weekend has been a big-time moral booster for this team."
In the quarterfinals, Densham got the jump on rival Tommy Johnson Jr. with a 0.483-second launch in front of Johnson's 0.537-second start. But Johnson managed to catch and pass Densham en route to a 5.252-second lap at 297.68 mph against Densham's 5.362-second, 294.56-mph pass.