Densham tries to put bad luck behind him in bid for F.C. title. National record-holder 'slowly' adapting to new starting system. GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14-16) Forgive Gary Densham if, on the eve of this week's 34th annual Mac Tools ...
Densham tries to put bad luck behind him in bid for F.C. title.
National record-holder 'slowly' adapting to new starting system.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14-16) Forgive Gary Densham if, on the eve of this week's 34th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, an event for which he was the No. 1 qualifier just one year ago, he's feeling a little bit put upon; victimized by the system, if you will.
The truth is that had the NHRA NOT decided to tinker with its Christmas Tree starting system for the first time in 30 years, Densham likely would be leading the Funny Car point standings as the POWERade tour moves to Gainesville Raceway.
When the sport's principal sanctioning organization opted to replace conventional incandescent amber bulbs in the Tree with LED bulbs, which are less susceptible to failure in drag racing's abusive environment, one of the side effects was expected to be improved reaction times.
In fact, driver reaction times improved by an average of .030 of a second in the first test of the new bulbs at the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.
For Densham, the alleged improvement was anything but.
In the first round, after qualifying fourth, he "over-reacted" to the starting signal and by a minuscule .003 of a second was charged with a foul start.
Confronted by complaints from drivers who were forced to change starting line routines with which they had been comfortable throughout their careers, NHRA opted to make an adjustment to the system by the time the tour moved to Phoenix.
Again, Densham was caught in the fallout. This time, instead of penalizing the former high school auto shop, the system benefitted his final round opponent in the CSK Nationals, Ron Capps.
Capps was credited with a near perfect .003 reaction time which, two weeks earlier, would have been a blatant foul that would have handed Densham his fifth career win. Instead, it gave Capps the advantage he needed to make a slower 4.868 second quarter mile a winner over Densham's much better 4.810.
The result devastated the 56-year-old journeyman even though his own reaction time (.087) was good by Funny Car standards.
"You just don't get that many chances to win these races," he said. "Believe me, I know. I just feel bad for the guys because they worked so hard to give me a car that could win. But you can't dwell on it. We're just going to go out at Gainesville, try to qualify No. 1 again and try to win a race."
The NHRA national record-holder for speed at 326.87 miles per hour, Densham's Ford would be the top performer of the early season if not for teammate Tony Pedregon and his Castrol SYNTEC Mustang.
Densham's AVERAGE for five competitive quarter miles this season is 4.831. That's second to Pedregon (4.801) in a class in which the group average after two races is 5.291.
Of course, that's small consolation to Densham and Crew Chief Jimmy Prock who'll try to focus too much on the fact that their only two losses have come by a combined .029 of a second the .026 by which Capps got to the finish line first at Phoenix and the .003 by which Densham was guilty of fouling away a winning 4.850 against Bob Gilbertson at Pomona.