Dallas: Scott Geoffrion preview

Change in tune-up changes Nitro Fish Team's performance ENNIS, Texas, Oct. 9, 2003 - Given every opportunity to knuckle under to the pressure of racing a new Pro Stock racecar in NHRA's most competitive category, Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish...

Change in tune-up changes Nitro Fish Team's performance

ENNIS, Texas, Oct. 9, 2003 - Given every opportunity to knuckle under to the pressure of racing a new Pro Stock racecar in NHRA's most competitive category, Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish team didn't blink.

Everyone simply worked harder, from driver Scott Geoffrion, to crew chief Eric Luzinski, engine builder Bob Panella and crew members Donnie Gardner and Nate Van Wassenhove. They've been through several different phases while striving to make their Ford Escort ZX2 a winner.

They've come close twice, Geoffrion finishing second at Houston in April and Columbus, Ohio, in June. They've encountered new situations at virtually every stop since putting the ZX2 to work in mid-March. It's like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle without a diagram to follow.

Luzinski and the crew successfully solved their latest malady last weekend at Reading, Pa., but only after overhauling the engine's power curve. The car responded with Geoffrion's quickest runs in nine races in the rain-delayed Lucas Oil Nationals.

Now comes the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, Friday through Sunday, and Geoffrion believes fans will be looking at a different racecar than the one that failed to qualify at two of the last four races.

"We are going in the right direction. Eric is getting the gear package working with the motor," said Geoffrion. "He changed the gears and the chassis to get the car to work right. Unfortunately we didn't qualify better at Reading."

Geoffrion started 15th (6.793 seconds) and had to face No. 2 qualifier Larry Morgan in the first round of eliminations. Morgan won with a 6.727-second, 204.88-mph run to a 6.786.

"We want to qualify better at the Motorplex," added Geoffrion. "When we qualify better we don't have to run the top drivers in the category in the first round. I think we'll run good this weekend. We need the motor to be running at 9,700 or 9,800 (rpm) to be competitive. We've been in the 9,300 to 9,400 range."

While Luzinski worked to uncover why the car stopped responding to directions it used to follow, Geoffrion slipped from fifth to 10th (752 points) in the standings. But he could climb as high as eighth if the Nitro Fish team closes with a flourish. Jim Yates is eighth with 783 and Bruce Allen is ninth at 755.

Only two more races - at Las Vegas, Oct. 26 and Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9 - remain to be run this year.

Geoffrion's first look this year at all-concrete Motorplex racing surface comes Friday with qualifying at 2:30 and 6 p.m., followed by sessions Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday eliminations get underway at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Larry Morgan , Hurley Blakeney , Bruce Allen , Scott Geoffrion