Denver: Scotty Cannon preview

Cannon seeks to repeat in Denver DENVER, Colo. (July 14, 2003) - John Denver's song "Rocky Mountain High" tells about a certain state of mind a Colorado fan might enjoy when visiting the mile-high city of Denver and the mountains West of the ...

Cannon seeks to repeat in Denver

DENVER, Colo. (July 14, 2003) - John Denver's song "Rocky Mountain High" tells about a certain state of mind a Colorado fan might enjoy when visiting the mile-high city of Denver and the mountains West of the city. But when you talk about Rocky Mountain highs to an NHRA Funny Car driver, his mind turns immediately to the unique Bandimere Speedway. This weekend's Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at the track that's located dramatically on the side of a mountain presents new challenges for Scotty Cannon and his Oakley Pontiac Funny Car team.

Cannon, who qualified No. 1 at last year's event here - his second low qualifying effort in a row of the 2002 NHRA season - is making headway in his struggle to get his new team organized and running strong. He's looking for a repeat performance at Bandimere this weekend, and would like to add a win to his resume, but he knows it's not going to be easy.

"One thing about Denver is it's tricky because the altitude is so high. Unlike some places, you have trouble making power here and there's not much air up here so you have trouble making downforce," he says.

"I think my teammates (Whit Bazemore and Gary Scelzi) with the new Dodges are going to probably have somewhat of an advantage when it comes to downforce and getting down the track. "

The fan-friendly Mohawk-wearing restaurant owner from Lyman, N.C., is not discounting his car, however. "I think the Pontiacs are still in the hunt pretty good. It's going to take a lot of tuning tricks to get the car to not just perform but to stay stuck at the same time. It's going to be a whole different scenario. You have to build all different motors. We're coming here with eight completely different motors than we've run all year, which I'm sure all the rest of the teams are doing too."

Just about everything changes on a Funny Car when you race in Denver, but it's the same for everyone, Cannon concedes. "The car will be set up completely differently. The spoilers will be max height so they provide the most downforce. It's a tricky race track. Like I always say, we all race on it. What's good for one is good for the others. It's going to come down to whoever's got the best tune-up and gets a grip on the track the best."

With the season half over, Cannon's goals remain the same, as he seeks his first Funny Car win in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. "We need to go some rounds and win a race or two. That's what we need to do."

Cannon has finished 11th, sixth, 12th and eighth in the final point standings since he entered NHRA Funny Car competition in 1999, and would like nothing better than to move into the top 10 in points from 14th. "We have to sneak into the top 10 somehow and that should have been a goal completed at this point, but we fell so far behind. The car has qualified every race and it's showing some promise, knock on wood. It's moving up slowly but surely on the qualifying charts." His highest qualifying results this season have come in the last five races, where he qualified in the top half of the field three times.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Scotty Cannon