Reading Gary Densham Sunday Story

Opponent's quick pass aides Densham's departure READING, Pa. -- Throughout the weekend, the throngs of drag racing fans in attendance at the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals waited to see a Funny Car cover the quarter-mile strip of Maple...

Opponent's quick pass aides Densham's departure

READING, Pa. -- Throughout the weekend, the throngs of drag racing fans in attendance at the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals waited to see a Funny Car cover the quarter-mile strip of Maple Grove Raceway in under five seconds. It finally happened during Sunday's opening round of elimination racing when Cruz Pedregon flashed by the packed stands in 4.988 seconds at 302.21 mph.

It was a thrilling moment for everyone except NEC/AAA Club of Southern California Nitro Funny Car pilot Gary Densham, who had the best view of the sub-five second pass as he watched helplessly from the opposing lane. Pedregon's impressive lap handed Densham his sixth straight first round loss.

"We weren't even in the same ballpark today," Densham said after the session. "The car left the starting line very strong and we were side-by-side until about the 300-foot mark and then he just drove away from me. We lost a little traction near the finish line and the tires started spinning but he had already won the race by then. Give Cruz and his team credit, they were ready to go."

Densham finished with an official time of 5.653 seconds at 190.15 mph, well off the 5.216-second, 275.73-mph top mark he set in qualifying.

"If you ask me whether I'm disappointed, I'd say yes," Densham said. "If you ask whether I'm discouraged, I'd say no. The car is fine and we'll just keep working harder and harder until we start winning races. The day is going to come when we'll be tough to beat. I need to show our sponsors what we can do."

The Keystone Nationals marked the 14th race this season in which Densham has successfully placed his NEC/AAA Club of Southern California Nitro Funny Car in the field of 16 cars that race for event titles. He has notched four elimination round wins in 1998 and reached the semifinals on one occasion.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon