Denver: Scott Geoffrion preview

Pleased with test results, Geoffrion takes aim at Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2 victory at Denver DENVER, July 11, 2003 - A summertime trip to Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., sounds like a perfect vacation, or it would if it wasn't a ...

Pleased with test results, Geoffrion takes aim at Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2 victory at Denver

DENVER, July 11, 2003 - A summertime trip to Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., sounds like a perfect vacation, or it would if it wasn't a hectic business trip for Scott Geoffrion and his Pro Stock cohorts.

Those are the upcoming stops as the second half of the NHRA POWERade Series schedule gets underway - first the Mopar Mile-High Nationals here at Bandimere Speedway, July 18-20; and then on to Pacific Raceways in Seattle, July 25-27; and concluding at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway, Aug., 1-3.

"It's a beautiful area of the country . . . it's so scenic," said Geoffrion, driver of the Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2, easily the most surprising racecar in the class. "We are going to visit some of the prettiest areas, but the race tracks are all different animals. It's really going to be a tuner's test at these three races."

The toughest race could be at Bandimere Speedway, and it has nothing to do with the racing surface. It's the fact the track is located more than a mile high and there isn't enough oxygen in the air for the engines to perform at levels expected in sea-level conditions.

"We change almost everything in the car when we go to Denver," Geoffrion continued. "Everything from front to back - motor tune-up, carburetion, ignition timing, transmission ratios, clutch settings, rear end ratios, you name it, we change it. So when we go to Seattle the next week, we'll change everything back the way we usually run it."

Because everything is so radically different, and the Hurley Blakeney-owned racecar is just 10 races old, Geoffrion opted to test at Bandimere Speedway two weeks before this event. And he's glad he did.

"Testing went really well," he reported. "We wanted to test there when Pro Stock's heavy hitters - Greg Anderson (a five-time winner and series point leader), Kurt Johnson (No. 2 with four wins) and Warren Johnson (third with two victories) - were there to see how we stacked up against them. I think we did rather well. If anything, we were quicker and faster than all of them."

"We don't have a lot of parts and we don't have a lot of engines," added Geoffrion. "In fact, we had to test with our spare motor because we had to send our No. 1 motor back to Panella's (engine builder Bob Panella Jr., in Stockton, Calif.) to be rebuilt. We're hoping our main motor will help us run just that much better when the race begins."

How slow does the San Clemente, Calif., driver think it will be in the mile-high climes?

"If conditions get real good, I think the fans could see some high 7-teen-second times, but I'm sure that during Friday night's qualifying session times in the low 7.20s will be the norm," Geoffrion answered. "The altitude is hard on the human body just like it is on the racing engines. The motor has a hard time breathing, just like we do."

Last year, for example, Ron Krisher, the low qualifier, had a track record best of 7.249 seconds.

Geoffrion has been low qualifier at Bandimere twice, 1992 and 1993. He set track records both times, 7.598 seconds in 1992 and 7.499 in 1993.

Geoffrion began the season at the wheel of the team's Mustang Pro Stock entry. He didn't qualify at Pomona, Calif., but made the field at Phoenix in the bulkier Mustang. Since the Escort ZX2's arrival in March, Geoffrion has qualified for all 10 races. He finished second twice - at Houston and Columbus, Ohio - and he's been the No. 2 qualifier twice. His worst ZX2 start has been 12th and he's only started outside the top eight three times.

The performances have helped him climb from 16th after two races to seventh today, with 542 points. He's 31 points behind No. 5 Krisher.

"I started the year with the goal of finishing in the POWERade Series top 10 and the top five next year, but I've reset those goals," he said. "There's no reason why we shouldn't finish in the top five this year and win at least a couple of races. Next year, we'll have our platform ready to challenge for the championship."

Geoffrion knows he's driving the most competitive Pro Stock Ford since Bob Glidden's 1994 Probe. Glidden won at Englishtown, N.J., in 1995 - the last year Ford's Blue Oval was pictured in NHRA's winner's circle. Geoffrion wants to become the first Ford driver in eight years to win a national event - and he has 11 more chances in 2003 to do so.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Bob Glidden , Scott Geoffrion