More Rain Dashes Densham's Daydream TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 18) -- The twice rain-delayed elimination rounds of the 10th annual Parts America Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka proved to be nothing more than an exercise in futility for NEC/AAA Auto...
More Rain Dashes Densham's Daydream
TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 18) -- The twice rain-delayed elimination rounds of the 10th annual Parts America Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka proved to be nothing more than an exercise in futility for NEC/AAA Auto Club Funny Car driver Gary Densham.
Two weeks ago, dangerously high winds and endless rainfall forced the National Hot Rod Association to postpone the elimination session to Saturday. As fate would have it, Saturday's scheduled 11 a.m. start was delayed by more rain which eventually resulted in a rare nighttime session much to the delight of the near-capacity group of die-hard fans who outlasted the weather to cheer their favorite drivers.
Densham was ready to thrill his legion of fans. Racing out of the No. 9 position, Densham was prepared to open against seven-time Funny Car champ and current Winston points leader John Force. "We knew Force would be tough," Densham said. "He always is. But we were really ready to play. We had run a 5.10-second lap during Friday's test-and-tune session and I actually cut it off before the finish line during that lap. We knew we were fast. The whole crew was tickled. We were dreaming about an upset."
Unfortunately, Team NEC/AAA's enthusiasm was washed away - along with the rubber on the track - by the torrential rainfall that swept across Kansas on Saturday morning. Since Force had qualified just ahead of Densham in the eighth position, he had the advantage of lane choice. It turned out to be the difference in 95 percent of the races run on the track.
"The right lane of the track was absolutely not there," Densham said. "It was terrible. Actually it was worse than that. It was dangerous. No one got down that lane in our (Funny Car) class. What does that tell you? They shouldn't have run this race tonight." The poor conditions in the right lane effected more than the Funny Car drivers. The professionals in the Top Fuel and Pro Stock brackets also struggled on the rubber-less lane. Of the 24 professional-class first round races, only one driver won out of the right-hand lane. Densham's lap was typical of every other pass on that side, he spun the tires immediately and aborted his run while his challenger breezed down the left lane to take the win.
"We waited around all day long for nothing," Densham said. "I guess you just have to take the good with the bad. If there is a bright spot to the weekend it's in the fact that we definitely found our horsepower again. When we ran on Friday, I could tell that the car was as quick as it was earlier in the year when we were winning rounds. That's encouraging heading into the next three races. We really want to finish the year with a bang and now I know we have the car to do it. I can't wait for Dallas."