Gary Densham hopes working weekend will pay off

CHICAGO (May 28) -- The majority of the professional drivers who compete on the National Hot Rod Association circuit are enjoying a rare weekend off this Memorial Day holiday. But driver Gary Densham, who pilots the NEC/Auto Club of Southern ...

CHICAGO (May 28) -- The majority of the professional drivers who compete on the National Hot Rod Association circuit are enjoying a rare weekend off this Memorial Day holiday. But driver Gary Densham, who pilots the NEC/Auto Club of Southern California Funny Car, has different plans. He'll be competing in two different match races in two different states this weekend, travelling over 750 miles in a new quest for answers.

"Believe me, I would have loved to have taken the weekend off," Densham said. "We just finished six races in eight weeks and we're now facing seven more races in the next 10 weeks. I get tired just thinking about it. But I felt it was something we had to do. I owe it to my sponsors to make this car better and I won't let up until we're at the top of our game."

Densham could be accused of being too hard on himself. He's already logged four elimination round wins this year, which is just one shy of last year's 22-race total of five wins, and he reached the finals of the Winternationals in February. He also has been in the top 10 of the Winston championship points standings all year.

"We've got too many ideas that we need to try out with this five-disc clutch system," Densham said. "It's showed so much promise since we installed it after the Florida race (in March) but we haven't quite got a handle on it yet. That's why we're competing at these match races. It will give us a chance to try out our ideas under real race circumstances without losing any ground to the rest of the NHRA Funny Car class.

"The competition in the NHRA is too close to be testing ideas during a race. I refuse to go to any more races and just lose in the first round because we're lost with the clutch. Either we're going to figure this thing out this weekend or we might have to back up a few steps and work on winning individual rounds instead always trying to win the whole race.

"We're not trying to run in the 70's (4.7-second range). John Force does that and he goes through more parts in a weekend then we do all year. We're just trying to get to where we can run laps in the low 90s or high 80s every time out there. Then we'll be close enough to compete with the big boys and win some races. We'll get there, it just takes time."

Densham's weekend of bracket racing begins tonight at Lancaster Dragway in Lancaster, N.Y. He then has half a day to commute to the Mid-Michigan Motorplex in Stanton, Mich. for another race on Saturday night. "I'm getting back to my drag racing roots," Densham said with a laugh. "I just hope me and my hot rod make it through this weekend in one piece."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Densham