Densham 'Doubles Up' at Indianapolis Veteran Gary Densham, winless in his first 244 tries on the NHRA drag racing tour, raced into the record books by winning the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals AND the 23rd annual Skoal Showdown at ...
Densham 'Doubles Up' at Indianapolis
Veteran Gary Densham, winless in his first 244 tries on the NHRA drag racing tour, raced into the record books by winning the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals AND the 23rd annual Skoal Showdown at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Densham, driving the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang for Team Castrol and John Force Racing, beat his boss to claim the sport's richest event (the $100,000 Showdown) and then overpowered the competition to win the sport's oldest and most prestigious race.
The former high school auto shop teacher then shared the winners' podium with 21-year-old Ashley Force, daughter of the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, who made her first victory an unforgettable one.
Ms. Force, a former high school cheerleader, beat Shelly Howard in an all-female final round to win for the first time at the national event level. Driving the Castrol-supported Mattel Toy Store dragster, she won wire-to-wire, qualifying No. 1 and posting the quickest time of the weekend.
Densham almost duplicated that feat. After qualifying second behind John Force's track record-setting 4.749 second effort in the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang, Densham marched through seven straight opponents over two days. After dispatching Force in the second straight all-Team Castrol Showdown, he beat Tony Bartone, Phil Burkart Jr., Whit Bazemore and Cruz Pedregon to win the U.S. Nationals.
Meanwhile, Force left IRP with his points leader largely intact. Upset in round two of the U.S. Nationals by Gary Scelzi, he retained a 206-point lead with just five races remaining.
A 113-time tour winner, Force is seeking an unprecedented 13th series title and a remarkable 12th straight championship for his team, which won a year ago with the Castrol SYNTEC Ford now driven by NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Eric Medlen.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.749 seconds, 323.12 mph.
Race results: Beat Jim Head; lost to Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Qualified No. 1 for the ninth time at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with a track record 4.749 second quarter mile; extended to 341 the number of consecutive NHRA events for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "It seems like Scelzi and I race every weekend (seven times in the last eight races, in fact). I got him two weeks ago at Memphis; he got me back today. But I hope we keep on racing (each other) because you can't be the best unless you beat the best." - JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.857 seconds, 314.58 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: In first U.S. Nationals start, lost to defending champion Tim Wilkerson when his Castrol SYNTEC Ford lost traction at half track.
Quotable: "Our car picked a bad time to get good. We've been struggling to run with John and Gary so my dad (crew chief John Medlen) decided to make a engine change. The good thing is it responded immediately. The bad news is that it was too powerful for the track. But at least we've got a good car to take to Reading." - ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.782 seconds, 322.81 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Phil Burkart Jr., Whit Bazemore and Cruz Pedregon.
Notable: Won the $100,000 Skoal Showdown AND the 50th annual U.S. Nationals, becoming just the fifth driver in Funny Car history to double-up at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Quotable: "Incredible. When I was racing my own car just five years ago, I never could have imagined a day like today. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock made all the right decisions. The crew was perfect and I guess I did my job, too. And to win the 50th U.S. Nationals..." - GARY DENSHAM.