Indianapolis: Scott Geoffrion preview

Geoffrion aims for elusive U.S. Nationals win INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 22, 2003 - Scott Geoffrion's drag racing career has brought wins, runner-up finishes, No. 1 qualifying positions, performance records and a solid fan base. What it doesn't...

Geoffrion aims for elusive U.S. Nationals win

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 22, 2003 - Scott Geoffrion's drag racing career has brought wins, runner-up finishes, No. 1 qualifying positions, performance records and a solid fan base.

What it doesn't include are a POWERade Pro Stock championship and a U.S. Nationals victory.

While the championship will elude him this year, the opportunity to scratch the U.S. Nationals off his list comes Labor Day Weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the 49th running of drag racing's oldest, richest and most prestigious event.

Geoffrion and his Nitro Fish Ford ZX2 teammates prepared for this showdown with a two-day test session at the track, Aug. 19-20. Conditions were hot and very humid, quite likely the same kind that will be on tap during the race, and Geoffrion left with a positive feeling.

"We weren't the quickest or fastest, but we were very consistent," said the driver from San Clemente, Calif. "The car ran alright, but we made some big gains in setting up the car to get better reaction times. Those were huge strides. I've been consistent on the lights, but they've been in the .060-second range, not in the .030 area where we needed to be.

"It was, without question, the best test session we've had all year."

Crew chief Eric Luzinski used each run to make crucial clutch changes and engine specialist Donnie Gardner concentrated on the engine-track tune-ups that will be so critical when qualifying begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

"Donnie is real sharp at tuning the motor for the racetrack conditions you have to deal with," added Geoffrion of the Hurley Blakeney-owned team's newest employee.

"Winning Indy would be huge," Geoffrion continued. "It's the race everyone wants to win. I've always said that one of the empty holes in my racing career is that it doesn't include a U.S. Nationals win or a championship. Last year we didn't have a car as good as the one we have now. If we play our cards right, we are capable of winning."

Geoffrion came close to that coveted winner's circle in 1993 when he lost a heart-breaker to Warren Johnson by a few feet. He also was No. 1 qualifier at Indy in 1992.

Geoffrion has been to two finals this year, finishing second to Kurt Johnson at Houston in April and to Greg Anderson at Columbus, Ohio, in June. Since that last title-round appearance, however, the car's consistency waned.

He was fifth in points then but now is eighth, albeit within easy striking distance of fifth in the usually-congested Pro Stock top 10. He's only been able to win one round in the last five races.

Then again, the ZX2 was the first of its brand to be converted to a drag racing machine and the Nitro Fish gang has had to learn at the track because there hasn't been much time or funding for testing.

Geoffrion has accumulated 670 points overall, 43 in the Ford Mustang he began the year with and 627 in the smaller, more aerodynamic ZX2. Allen Johnson is fifth with 738, followed by Ron Krisher at 723 and Mike Edwards at 682. So a hot streak from the 'Fish team could have a major bearing on the standings during the final seven races of 2003.

One qualifying session is scheduled Friday night, followed by two on Saturday at 12:45 and 6:45 p.m., and the final pair at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Monday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Hurley Blakeney , Scott Geoffrion