Densham disappointed with early dismissal RICHMOND, Va. (May 2) - They have to admit, they were hoping for more. The NEC/Auto Club of Southern California Nitro Funny Car team and driver Gary Densham came to Virginia Motorsports Park for the ...
Densham disappointed with early dismissal
RICHMOND, Va. (May 2) - They have to admit, they were hoping for more.
The NEC/Auto Club of Southern California Nitro Funny Car team and driver Gary Densham came to Virginia Motorsports Park for the Fifth Annual Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto with dreams of a victory in mind. Unfortunately, a substandard, last-gasp, qualifying effort yielded a less-than-desirable position on the qualifying ladder, which ultimately translated to Densham's third first-round defeat of the year and fourth straight loss to rival Tony Pedregon.
"Is there anyone else in the Funny Car class besides Tony Pedregon?" Densham jokingly asked. "Every time I look over into the other lane, there he is. I'm tired of looking at him. So far he's single-handily trying to ruin our season." Already in 1999, Densham has lost to Pedregon in the final round of the season-opening Winternationals, the opening round of the CSK Nationals in Phoenix and Houston's O'Reilly Nationals quarterfinal session.
"Realistically, we have to be ready to beat him and everybody else that comes our way if we want to win a race," Densham said. "None of us in the NEC/Auto Club pit were ready for it to be this cold and (the weather) ended up turning this track into a one-lane deal.
"We were pressing too hard early on and we wound up putting ourselves behind the 8-ball so to speak in regards to where we were in the qualifying field. All of a sudden, the fourth round was beginning and we weren't even qualified. So we backed everything down a bunch and just muscled her down the track to make the field. We ended up in 12th place (with a pass of 5.279 seconds at 234.61 mph) and didn't have lane choice on Sunday. Obviously, the lousy qualifying performance really came back to bite us.
"The car shook and smoked all the way down the track and Tony was just flat out beating us. I saw him streaking away so I just shut her down to save the parts."
Pedregon went on to record a 4.976-second lap at 304.87 mph to Densham's 10.733-second elapsed time at 84.11 mph. "What's disappointing is that we really didn't gain any ground here," Densham said. "I doubt if we'll see conditions like this again so we just have to put this behind us and move on. I guess a first-round loss is better than a DNQ."
Densham, a 52-year-old from Bellflower, Calif., has qualified for all six races this season and has recorded four elimination round wins. Prior to this race, he was eighth in the Winston championship points standings.