Columbus: Gary Densham preview

Densham seeks first round win in Pontiac Excitement Nationals Team Castrol driver 0-for-his-career at National Trail Raceway COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13-15) Gary Densham never met a drag race he didn't like. According to the 56-year-old former...

Densham seeks first round win in Pontiac Excitement Nationals

Team Castrol driver 0-for-his-career at National Trail Raceway

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13-15) Gary Densham never met a drag race he didn't like. According to the 56-year-old former high school auto shop teacher, "a bad day drag racing is better than a good day doing almost anything else."

However, it's been difficult, even for one as enthusiastic about his sport as Densham, to get fired up about returning to National Trail Raceway for this week's 39th renewal of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals. That's because in 15 previous appearances in the spring classic, Densham's results have been remarkable only for their lack of excitement.

Six times he has failed to make the starting field at National Trail and, on the nine occasions on which he did bump into the lineup, he was ousted in the very first round, just as he was a year ago. He's qualified in the top half of the lineup just twice.

Moreover, the Bellflower, Calif., resident has fared no better at the wheel of the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang he drives for John Force Racing than he did in his own, independently-financed Funny Car. Either way, he still is 0-for his career at National Trail Raceway.

Nevertheless, he hasn't lost his sense of humor, nor his hope of winning the $400,000 POWERade championship.

"Well, you have to look at it like if we do anything this year (at National Trail), it's n improvement," Densham said.

"Seriously, though, I feel better this year than I ever have. I know (Crew Chief) Jimmy (Prock) will give me a fast hot rod and my job is just go out there and do something good with it.

"The whole thing (at Force Racing) happened kinda by accident," Densham said. "John originally wanted to do this for four or five races. He felt, 'well, hey, I've got some parts, I've got an extra chassis, I've got Jimmy Prock under contract. Why don't we put all those resources to work?' And this is the result.

"Every race it just seems to get better and better. A lot of it is Jimmy getting used to running Funny Cars, which he'd never done as a Crew Chief before. And a lot of it's just the whole team gelling together.

"We have a lot of guys on our team who never even worked on a race car before (they came here) but they listened and learned and now they're part of something special.

"This is the time in the season where we started sliding backward last year (after leading the point standings for four races)," Densham continued, "so we know (that) to have any shot (at the championship or) at improving on what we did (fourth place in the final standings, a career best), we have to do better between now and Indy (the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals)."

Winless in his first 244 NHRA tour events, Densham has won five times since joining John Force Racing three races into the 2001 season.

He comes into the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in third place in Funny Car points on the strength of a victory earlier this year at the Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., and a runner-up finish at the CSK Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz.

www.johnforceracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Densham