Columbus: Gary Densham preview

Densham aiming for continued improvement this weekend in Columbus COLUMBUS -- If there has ever been a track on the NHRA POWERade Racing schedule that owes Gary Densham a round win (or four), it's National Trail Raceway. Some drivers talk about...

Densham aiming for continued improvement this weekend in Columbus

COLUMBUS -- If there has ever been a track on the NHRA POWERade Racing schedule that owes Gary Densham a round win (or four), it's National Trail Raceway. Some drivers talk about how certain tracks treat them extra nice. Ohio hasn't exactly been kind to Densham.

In more than 30 years of racing, Densham has spent his fair share of time at National Trail Raceway. His first round win over Jim Head last season was his first--.ever. Densham lost in the second round to Gary Scelzi, but he had accomplished what he had been unable to do in decades of racing.

The NHRA POWERade Series starts pro qualifying for the 41st annual Pontiac Performance Nationals on Friday. Qualifying continues Saturday before final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sunday.

"Last year was the first time I ever advanced past the first round whether it was my car or a Force (Racing) car," Densham, driver of the Racebricks Chevy Monte Carlo, said. "I have had the worst luck there and I guess we should look at it in a positive way. We should be thinking that since we have done miserably in Columbus, our luck bank is overflowing and we should be able to win this weekend."

Densham has years of classroom experience, being the patient, guiding voice to young people. But don't get him started on Columbus. He is likely to nod his head with a disappointing shake. He doesn't have a lot of patience for this event.

"This was the second race track that I ever went to east of Denver," Densham said. "For a lot of years I just raced on the West Coast because we had so many races you didn't need to go east. I wasn't sponsored so I raced where I could and just had a lot of fun.

"But my buddy Joe Pisano went to Columbus for some reason and he won. He convinced me to go the next summer. So I decided to take a vacation and go match race. The one off-weekend I had was Columbus weekend, so I went to race there. The first person I met there was a kid who charged me $10 to mow my pit area. Then it rained like you wouldn't believe and I had to spend a ton of money to buy wood to make a pit area. It's been downhill ever since."

This time Densham has a new car, new team and new crew chief. So maybe the time has come to walk away with a little love for Columbus.

"Back when they first started making improvements to that track, you had to be in the top 10 to have a paved pit area," Densham said. "That was a lot of motivation and it was just as big to be in the top 10 then as it was at the end of the year.

"We all have paved pit areas now and maybe this is the year it all turns around. Columbus has been around for a long time and I would love to take home a Wally from this race. I think it would mean a little more."

ESPN2 will air coverage of this weekend's event starting with qualifying at 11 p.m. (ET) on Saturday. Final eliminations will start at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

-gs-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham