Joliet II: Gary Densham preview

Densham, Auto Club Mustang Among CARQUEST Favorites JOLIET, Ill. (Oct. 1-3) -- Reigning Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Champion Gary Densham never has won more than two races in a season, never has won at Route 66 Raceway and never has won from...

Densham, Auto Club Mustang Among CARQUEST Favorites

JOLIET, Ill. (Oct. 1-3) -- Reigning Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Champion Gary Densham never has won more than two races in a season, never has won at Route 66 Raceway and never has won from the No. 1 qualifying position.

Nevertheless, the former high school auto shop teacher hopes to address each of those shortcomings this weekend when he sends the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang after the Funny Car title at the fourth annual CARQUEST Nationals.

Despite the fact that he has not reached the final round in 10 previous appearances at Route 66, the Chicago-area supertrack on which the NHRA national Funny Car record has been set in each of the last two seasons, Densham has every reason to be optimistic about his chances this week.

For one thing, coming off an emotional double victory three weeks ago at Indianapolis, where he won both the Skoal Showdown bonus race and the U.S. Nationals, Densham is riding a wave of momentum.

For another, his Jimmy Prock-tuned Auto Club Mustang is one of only two Funny Cars (the other being teammate John Force's Castrol GTX® Start Up™ Ford) to have broken the 4.80 second barrier since the NHRA mandated an 85 per cent limit on nitromethane in the fuel mix

And, finally, the 57-year-old Californian feels like he was short-changed a year ago when he drove the blue-and-red John Force Racing Mustang to an event record time of 4.723 seconds before losing to teammate Tony Pedregon in the second round.

"If we'd had a couple more runs (last fall), there's no doubt in my mind that we would've set the national record (which at the time was 4.721)," Densham said. "I can't wait to get back out there."

     If he indeed is able to end his victory drought at Route 66, Densham will take a
major step toward achieving another goal   a Top 3 finish in POWERade points.

"I still think second place is within reach," he said. "We might need a break or two, but as good as Jimmy has the car running, I think it's possible."

Presently fifth in points, the barrel-chested veteran is only 87 points out of second place, just over four rounds with four events remaining.

"If we can make up some points in qualifying, that means that we only need to win one more round per event to catch (Gary) Scelzi (for second place).

     Densham's best previous finish was fourth in 2002, the first season he ever led
the Funny Car standings.  He also led the points last year before finishing fifth.

For 19 years one of the top independents in the NHRA series, Densham went without a victory in 244 events before claiming a breakthrough win at Memphis, Tenn., in 2001, his first season with JFR.

     He went on to win two times that first year and has won two races each season
since.  In addition to the U.S. Nationals, he won this year at Englishtown, N.J.

- www.johnforceracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Gary Densham