Las Vegas: Scott Geoffrion preview

Geoffrion confident of colorful Nitro Fish ZX2 LAS VEGAS, March 28, 2003 - Beauty may be only skin deep and in the eye of the beholder, but there's no doubt Scott Geoffrion will have the loudest - speaking of colors, not sounds - racecar in the...

Geoffrion confident of colorful Nitro Fish ZX2

LAS VEGAS, March 28, 2003 - Beauty may be only skin deep and in the eye of the beholder, but there's no doubt Scott Geoffrion will have the loudest - speaking of colors, not sounds - racecar in the Pro Stock pits at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4-6.

When Geoffrion introduced NHRA fans to Hurley Blakeney's new Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2 at Gainesville, Fla., March 14, the body was white and bland. It's neither now.

"Holy cow, is it bright!" Geoffrion said of the multi-hued creation of Chuck Buckler. "It is definitely . . . colorful. It will be very easy for the fans to pick out our car."

Bob Fisher, Nitro Fish founder, described it as "looking like a peacock in a blender."

"From a competitive standpoint," added Geoffrion, "we expected the new Escort ZX2 body to be as aerodynamic as the Cavaliers and Grand Ams and it is," he added. "You never know until the car goes down the racetrack, but it proved itself at Gainesville (Fla., where the car made its first NHRA POWERade Series appearance March 14-16)."

That's a conservative statement.

Geoffrion qualified the neophyte car fifth overall in a tough field and registered career bests in elapsed time (6.798 seconds) and speed (202.70) and outran Mark Pawuk in the opening round before losing to eventual runner-up Jeg Coughlin Jr.

So, with one excellent outing in the bank, Geoffrion is ready to get back to racing and to The Strip.

"We ran good at Vegas at the end of last year and we tested there before this year's first race at Pomona (Calif.) and ran well," Geoffrion commented. "I think we have a pretty good combination for Vegas and all the information we have should apply to this car even though it came from our Mustang.

"This car is much better aerodynamically than the Mustang. And we have more horsepower on the way from (engine builder) Bob Panella. That's what we need in this class - horsepower. If you don't have what I call a 'good hood scoop support' or a 'good meal under the hood,' you start making changes to the car when you wouldn't have to. You can make up for a lot of deficiencies if you have a good motor, which I do."

A good engine program is vital if you want to be successful in Pro Stock, and Panella, a three-time Pro Stock Truck champion, is giving Geoffrion enough power to be competitive.

"I knew since the end of the last year that we had real good power, based on the numbers the Mustang ran to 330 feet," Geoffrion noted. "It just keeps getting better, too, but it does take a while to make it. Panella didn't start on this Ford motor program until May of last year. We need to have another real good motor together. We have a spare that's decent but it's two-to-three hundredths (of a second) slower than my good one and two-to-three hundredths is suicide in my class. We need to have two real strong bullets so we can run fast no matter what the circumstances."

Geoffrion qualified the Mustang at The Strip last October, starting 12th and losing in the first round. He crashed the Mustang in the first round at Phoenix (Feb. 23) when a left front brake rotor broke.

His Gainesville performance boosted him to 12th place with 97 points. He's 21 points out of 10th and 43 points behind seventh place Darrell Alderman, his longtime teammate on the Mopar team. A few more round wins here could plunk Geoffrion into the top 10.

With seven races looming over the next nine weeks, Geoffrion is confident he will be adapting to the new car soon, perhaps as early as this outing.

"I didn't feel real comfortable in the car at Gainesville," he said. "The ZX2 felt totally different than the Mustang, which felt like I could throw the whole family in there, while the ZX2 is so tiny. I just need to get used to what the car will take when I get out of the groove or something like that."

The more laps he makes, the easier it will be. And he'll have plenty of races to do so because the schedule presents seven events in nine weeks. First up are four qualifying attempts at The Strip, 3 and 6 p.m. on Friday, 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, then eliminations Sunday at 11 a.m.

-hbm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Mark Pawuk , Hurley Blakeney , Scott Geoffrion