Joliet II: Gary Densham preview

Team Castrol Driver Has Unfinished Business on POWERade Tour JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26-28) -- Before his career with John Force Racing and Team Castrol is concluded, Gary Densham has a couple things he still would like to accomplish. ...

Team Castrol Driver Has Unfinished Business on POWERade Tour

JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26-28) -- Before his career with John Force Racing and Team Castrol is concluded, Gary Densham has a couple things he still would like to accomplish.

The first is to win at Route 66 Raceway, the new center of high performance on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing tour, and the other is to win at home in the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at Pomona, Calif.

He gets an opportunity to scratch the first item off his wish list this weekend when he drives the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford Mustang in pursuit of the Funny Car title in the third annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals.

"I'm not greedy," Densham laughed. "Tony and John (teammates Tony Pedregon and John Force) can have the rest, but to win this week at Chicago and then in the Finals with all the Auto Club people there, that would be special."

A two-time winner this season, the 56-year-old former auto shop teacher has a race car that should be perfectly suited to weekend conditions at Route 66: a high traction surface and temperatures in the 60s.

Ironically, although he reached the semifinals of the May race at Joliet, Densham has won nary a round of racing in two previous appearances in the CARQUEST Nationals.

"You know, that's just racing, but we think we've got a hot rod that can run with anybody, especially in conditions like they're predicting this week. (Crew Chief) Jimmy Prock makes an awful lot of horsepower and this is one of the tracks where you can use it," Densham said. "The Friday night (qualifying) session should be all good. This late in the year, either you're in the hunt (for the championship) or you're looking for something else to hang your hat on.

"You can bet everybody will be loaded up to go for the record. If you're Tony or (Whit) Bazemore, that's 20 points in the championship and I think Tony only is a couple points (seven) behind right now. If you're not one of those guys, well, the record is something you can point at to say 'hey, maybe I wasn't the best for the season, but I was the quickest or the fastest or whatever."

Densham has been both in his three seasons with Force, the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion with whom he has been friends since the two toured Australia together in 1974.

For more than a calendar year, in fact, Densham's blue-and-white Ford was the fastest full-bodied race car in history at 326.87 miles per hour.

En route to six career wins, he also has been the No. 1 qualifier on five separate occasions the last three seasons with a career best 4.755 second quarter mile last April at Houston, Texas.

Those numbers are certainly good enough to establish him as a legitimate contender this week along with Pedregon, the defending race champion; Bazemore, who won in the spring; Force, the track record holder for time (4.721 seconds); Scelzi, the track record holder for speed; and Del Worsham who, with Bazemore, is the only Funny Car driver with multiple victores at Route 66 Raceway.

"If you can win in that kind of company, it's all good," Densham said.

The points leader earlier in the season, Densham is fourth in the current standings, just behind Force and just ahead of Worsham. A third place finish, while not on his official wish list, would be nice bonus for one who, before 2001, never had finished higher than ninth.

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- www.johnforceracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Densham