POMONA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2003 - What happens when a computer develops a mind of its own and provides errant data to racing components? Scott Geoffrion, driver of Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish Pro Stock Ford ZX2, crew chief Eric Luzinski and ...
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2003 - What happens when a computer develops a mind of its own and provides errant data to racing components?
Scott Geoffrion, driver of Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish Pro Stock Ford ZX2, crew chief Eric Luzinski and consultant Donnie Gardner have the answer to that one.
"Nothing good," Geoffrion advises, and then explains:
"We've had problems for quite a while and made changes according to what Eric's computer program said were the right ones," Geoffrion said. "But our performance didn't get any better. It was like we weren't doing anything to find the solutions, and that was very frustrating.
"But we think we found the cause of the trouble. We tested after the race at Las Vegas (Oct. 27) and still didn't get better," he continued. "So Eric and Donnie took the ignitions to (parts manufacturer) MSD to see what was going on. What they discovered was our laptop computer had a virus and the MSD technicians found there were 80 miscommunications in just one of the ignition boxes."
At least it was uncovered before the Auto Club Finals, the last of 23 NHRA POWERade Series races this year, Nov. 6-9, at Pomona Raceway.
"We probably would've been happy to see the season end if we hadn't found something like that," Geoffrion said. "We are glad, and we really would like to go out with a strong performance. We've struggled lately - trying three different motors and six different carburetors and not seeing improvement no matter what we did - and to rebound in the performance department would be a perfect ending."
And it would give the team a positive conclusion to a season that started well when the ZX2 was unveiled in Gainesville, Fla., in March. Geoffrion qualified well in what was then and still is the most competitive Ford product in drag racing since Ford pioneer Bob Glidden retired in 1996.
He was fifth at Gainesville, third at the first Las Vegas race and not lower than 12th in the car's first 10 outings. The Nitro Fish Ford was fifth at Sonoma, Calif., in early August but its performance level began sinking thereafter. In the last seven races, Geoffrion didn't make the starting line-up three times and never qualified higher than 14th.
Until then, this independently-financed team was holding its own with the category's biggest and best-funded teams. Geoffrion finished second twice (Houston and Columbus, Ohio) and climbed as high as fifth in points. Despite the difficult situation, he is 10th (793 points) and could finish as high as eighth - not bad for a team that has just two fulltime employees and limited resources. Bruce Allen (824 points) and Jim Yates (826) are ninth and eighth, respectively.
"We are seeking additional funding for the 2004 season so we will be able to compete with the top four or five cars," Geoffrion commented. "Right now we are planning on running a second ZX2 with Hurley driving."
2-2-2 Geoffrion at Finals
First things first, and that would be the Finals. Geoffrion was runner-up here in 1994 and low qualifier in 1991 and 1992.
The transplanted New Jersey resident - he now lives in San Clemente, Calif. - knows how good it feels to finish with a flourish, and that's his goal now that the virus has been treated.
He and the multi-hued Nitro Fish Ford ZX2 begin qualifying with sessions at 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, followed by two runs Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The curtain begins descending on the '03 campaign when eliminations begin at 11 a.m.