Madison: Scotty Cannon preview

Cannon looks to repeat at Gateway MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2003) - Scotty Cannon was on a roll this time last year. He qualified No. 1 in his Oakley Funny Car at the 2002 Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, advanced...

Cannon looks to repeat at Gateway

MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2003) - Scotty Cannon was on a roll this time last year. He qualified No. 1 in his Oakley Funny Car at the 2002 Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, advanced to the final round against John Force, then settled for runner-up status after red-lighting. Not a bad result in the heat of summer.

Cannon followed that up at the next race in Denver, Colorado, by becoming low qualifier again, grabbing the No. 1 spot for the second time that year. He then advanced to the second round and lost to Del Worsham.

"It was hot in St. Louis," Cannon recalls. No surprise there, as Gateway is notorious for the heat and humidity that is standard issue in the Midwest during the summer months. "Zippy (Mike Neff, Cannon's crew chief last year) had a good tune-up on the car. We just had a good weekend. What can you say? Nothing really went bad in the final. I think Force smoked the tires and I red-lighted. I kind of gave it away. You don't ever know what's going to happen. You try your hardest sometime and you run on the ragged edge of messing up one of these things."

Asked if he could use what he learned last year at Gateway to benefit his struggling team this year, Cannon responded, "Not really, because our whole combination is different this year. I learned that I hope I don't red-light again. I should learn from that. We're still having trouble with the consistency of the car. We're still working on it. I would like to be in the finals again, that's for sure. That would be fun."

Now that the POWERade Drag Racing Series is in mid-season, the heat of the summer months requires a different approach for most teams, Cannon's included. "It gets harder, the tracks get slicker, it's just a hard period," the 1999 NHRA Rookie of the Year says. "It's harder to run in the middle of the year than it is in the first of the year. The car actually showed a little promise at the last race. It's showing promise as it goes, we just can't seem to get four or five runs in a row. The direction we're going with the clutch seems to be going the right way; it's just a matter of finding out what it likes when we apply the clutch."

Cannon, of Lyman, S.C., is somewhat ambivalent about running final eliminations on Sunday evening at Gateway. "It's nothing special, it's really going to depend on the track and the heat. It always plays a big factor there. It isn't the team with the most power and all the trick stuff that usually wins in the middle of the summer. It's the guy who can can apply the power to the track. Hopefully we will get on top of that."

"I don't really care if we run at night or not. I don't know whether it's an advantage or a disadvantage. Everybody has to race under the same conditions at the same time. It's another day to me, really. But I like it, because it's cooler and I think it puts on a good show for the fans, with the fire coming out of the headers. It's pretty awesome."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , John Force , Scotty Cannon , Mike Neff