Bristol: Scotty Cannon preview

Oakley's Scotty Cannon likes Bristol. BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 21, 2003) -- Scotty Cannon, the 1999 NHRA Rookie of the Year, has history at the Bristol Dragway. He's only raced here twice with the NHRA, in 2001 and 2002, but he's won a number of...

Oakley's Scotty Cannon likes Bristol.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 21, 2003) -- Scotty Cannon, the 1999 NHRA Rookie of the Year, has history at the Bristol Dragway. He's only raced here twice with the NHRA, in 2001 and 2002, but he's won a number of IHRA races on this circuit in the hills of Tennessee. A win here this weekend in the sixth round of the 23-event NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in his Oakley Funny Car would suit him just fine.

"I'm not sure who's won the most races in Bristol in the track's history. It's probably not me, but I'm pretty close," says Cannon, who owns a home-cooking family restaurant in Lyman, S.C. "I've won a lot of races here and I have a lot of fan support. I also have a lot of family that comes up here. It's like home to me. And even though the track is refurbished and it's not IHRA any longer, it doesn't matter. It's still between those two mountains and I'd love nothing better than to win here or Atlanta or both."

The NHRA pro teams head to Commerce, Ga., the following weekend for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, for the series' seventh round.

The Mohawk-wearing Cannon has qualified for each race so far this season and has won one round, but he is still struggling to improve his car's performance. After making a late decision last year to continue in Funny Car racing with the Don Schumacher Racing team, Cannon's been working hard to get his all-new team to gel. "We started from nothing last November," he says. "We're working night and day. Nobody is sleeping much at all trying to make this thing go. We're just fortunate that we qualified in all those races where we've run so bad. Everybody said, You need some luck. I said, I think I've used all my luck up the first three races qualifying 15th or 16th when I shouldn't have even qualified."

The team, led by crew chief Phil Shuler, is making headway after solving some major issues beginning with the fourth race in Las Vegas, where Cannon qualified No. 8. "Are we catching up?" asks Cannon. "I would like to think so, because we've qualified for every race. I'm not making excuses or trying to sugar-coat a bunch of stuff. We're still 15 or 20 runs behind. We made some wrong calls at the wrong time at the last race in Houston for the track conditions as they were there. Going into Bristol we're going to change some stuff. Not just off-the-wall stuff, but we're going to tune for Bristol.

"We know how Bristol is. Bristol is usually pretty strong; the starting line is usually pretty stout. Down track the first run is usually weak. Bristol is going to be smooth, not like Houston where it was bumpy and upset the car. The asphalt in Bristol is probably going to be a little slicker, depending on the weather."

Cannon is a fan favorite wherever he goes. "To all my fans out there, we're not giving up," is his message to them. "We're working really hard. Sooner or later we're going to have to hit it exactly right."

Nitro qualifying is scheduled for Friday, April 25, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Final eliminations begin at 12 noon ET on Sunday, April 27.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Scotty Cannon , Don Schumacher