Bristol: Dean Skuza's "the ladder effect"

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2001) -- Success is not an overnight proposition. No one exemplifies that statement more this NHRA Winston Drag Racing season than Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car driver Dean Skuza. The Brecksville, Ohio, resident...

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2001) -- Success is not an overnight proposition.

No one exemplifies that statement more this NHRA Winston Drag Racing season than Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car driver Dean Skuza. The Brecksville, Ohio, resident is heading into this weekend's inaugural Thunder Valley Nationals at the Bristol Dragway trying to complete a ladder of success that started at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., earlier this season.

The season opener in Pomona, Calif., marked the low point, when Skuza failed to qualify. At Firebird International Raceway, the season's second race, Skuza ran the category's quickest elapsed time of the year at 4.809-seconds, but lost in round one to Gary Densham. Skuza then lost in the second round of eliminations at Houston Raceway Park and fell in the third round in Las Vegas. Note the progression.

Skuza advanced to the final round of the rain-delayed Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway last weekend, setting up a potential Skuza climax this weekend.

The climb hasn't been easy though.

Skuza has had his fair share of match-ups against the well-funded efforts of John Force Racing. Prior to his final-round defeat in Gainesville, Skuza had not lost a round of competition (4-0) to JFR this season -- including two first-round victories against Tony Pedregon at Houston and Las Vegas.

"It's all about discipline," said Skuza, who has enjoyed the fruits of co-crew chiefs John Stewart and Lance Larsen's labor. "John (Stewart) has brought that to the table. Many people think we tried to rotate the earth last week in our final with John. That's just not the case. We were trying to run a 5.00-second elapsed time, maintain consistency, and a cheap part bit us.

"The feeling in our pit is different now," Skuza continued. "We go into every race with the confidence to win. You can see it in each one of our faces -- it's a confidence. We're definitely not looking past anyone, but we also know we can beat anyone out there."

Over the past fives seasons, Skuza has proven that contention. His record against Force, a 10-time NHRA Winston World Champion, has been impressive to say the least. When many have double-digit losses, Skuza is 6-6, including a second-round victory at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year.

"I know we're raising some eyebrows," Skuza commented. "It hasn't been easy, but the rewards will be worth all the effort in the end." <pre> 'SKUZA'S LADDER'

Pomona Did Not Qualify

Firebird Lost to Gary Densham

Houston Beat Tony Pedregon Lost to Del Worsham

Las Vegas Beat Tony Pedregon Beat John Force Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.

Gainesville Beat Gary Densham Beat Jim Epler Beat Tim Wilkerson Lost to John Force

Bristol Funny Car Winner (?)

-Dodge Motorsports

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.