Bristol: Gary Densham preview

Densham and pupils on track for big gains in class BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The last four years were like a dream for Funny Car driver Gary Densham. In 2001, after three decades running as an under-funded, independent racer, the schoolteacher from ...

Densham and pupils on track for big gains in class

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The last four years were like a dream for Funny Car driver Gary Densham. In 2001, after three decades running as an under-funded, independent racer, the schoolteacher from Bellflower, Calif., was hired by his good friend and 12-time champion John Force to drive a third team car. Before long, the savvy veteran had visited the winner's circle for the first time and within a handful of races had moved from mid-pack fodder to championship contender.

The wins poured in for the next four years, with multiple trophies appearing on Densham's mantelpiece each season. He earned a regular spot near the top of the POWERade top 10 and even bagged a dream victory at the 50th annual U.S. Nationals.

But then the alarm clock went off and Densham woke up from his four-year fantasy. Team Force was looking for the next generation of drivers and Densham was out on his own once again. For awhile, it seemed like the end was near for one of the sport's most lovable Pros until fledgling collectables company Racebricks came to the rescue and signed him to a full sponsorship deal.

With just days to put his team together, Densham went to work. The mere fact he and his hastily assembled crew even had a car on the racetrack at the season-opener was impressive. Successfully qualifying and racing to the quarterfinals in Phoenix was a stunner. Now the Racebricks crew has firm designs on returning Densham to a regular fixture on the race day ledger.

"We're right there," Densham said. "We knew it wouldn't happen overnight, especially with the late start we had, but I've been pleased with our progress and I'm proud of my crew and their willingness to learn. The first handful of races I spent a lot of time just teaching people their jobs. Now they're taking the ball and running with it so I'm able to spend a lot more time with [crew chief] Greg Amaral working on the tune-up.

"We've been making sufficient power. Our biggest problem has been when we're at racetracks where we need to back it down a little bit. We're just now getting to a point where we're able to analyze what's happening and correct problems and already we've found a few things I think will really help us. We're excited to try them on the racetrack."

The Racebricks Chevrolet Monte Carlo will fire-up once again this weekend during the fifth annual O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Q at Bristol Dragway.

-gs-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Densham