Reading2: Scott Geoffrion preview

Geoffrion, Nitro Fish Team want to rebound at Reading READING, Pa., Oct. 1, 2003 - They could be called growing pains. They would be the unanticipated things that happen to a new Pro Stock racing team as it works to mold a solid, competitive ...

Geoffrion, Nitro Fish Team want to rebound at Reading

READING, Pa., Oct. 1, 2003 - They could be called growing pains. They would be the unanticipated things that happen to a new Pro Stock racing team as it works to mold a solid, competitive racecar to contend for the NHRA POWERade Series championship.

Hurley Blakeney's Nitro Fish team began with solid ownership, an experienced driver in Scott Geoffrion, knowledgeable crew chief in Eric Luzinski, excellent engine builder in Bob Panella Jr., and a strong desire to make some waves in the category by introducing the Ford Escort ZX2 to the straight-line set.

They did earlier in the season when Geoffrion drove the ZX2 into the final rounds at Houston in April and Columbus in June. Geoffrion was fifth in points, winning eight rounds in the first nine races with the new car and the future looked as bright as the car's multi-hued paint scheme.

But problems occur in most new cars, and they did show up. Geoffrion has slipped to 10th in points while Luzinski deals with finding engine combinations. The trouble is exasperating at best, but things could be much worse.

By the time the team arrives at Maple Grove Raceway for the Saturday-Sunday completion of the Lucas Oil Nationals, rain-delayed since Sept. 12, Luzinski hopes to have solved a major concern. Their latest Panella engine "has a different motor combination, one that is radically different from what we're used to working with," Luzinski said. "It's obvious it runs good speed because we've been able to run speed when we haven't been able to run quicker elapsed times.

"Earlier in the year we ran the same motor all the time so we were able to develop a combination," added Luzinski.

They now have three motors from Panella and need to develop a different combination for each one.

"We have a direction and have learned a lot," said Geoffrion, who failed to make the top 16 at last week's CarQuest Nationals in Joliet, Ill. "We wish we could've had four runs at Joliet (rain washed out Friday's two runs). We would've qualified. One good thing is Eric learned what the motor needs for a gear package.

"This motor has been running good speed so we don't want to just throw it aside. We should be fine this weekend. We are looking forward to it. We will be ready to race."

Geoffrion was 13th after the lone run last month with a time of 6.848 seconds.

"That time won't hold up," he commented. "It will take a 6.70-second run to make it."

That's the kind of number Geoffrion believes he'll be able to run when racing resumes Saturday. Qualifying times are 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for Pro Stock. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Hurley Blakeney , Scott Geoffrion