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Wed, 24 Sep 2003, 05:41 PM

CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals Pre-Race Quotes
Courtesy of NHRA Marketing





Scott Kalitta - driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster and a two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion (1994-'95). Kalitta returned to competition at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis and will compete on the NHRA circuit the remainder of the 2003 season. -- "It's awesome to be back. It's great to be racing again and being with my family. My dad (Connie) and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on some things, but we have both mellowed somewhat in the past few years, so it will be fun. The excitement that has already been swirling around our new team has been tremendous. Having Jesse James (founder and owner of West Coast Choppers and host of the Discovery Channel's Monster Garage) on board with us is going to bring a new level of exposure to our team and our sport. The support we are getting from Mac Tools made this all possible. I want to thank them and everyone involved with Kalitta Motorsports by winning some races before the season is over. That's the best 'thank you' I can give them."

John Force - driver of the Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang and the defending NHRA POWERade champion. Force, a 12-time champion overall including the last 10 consecutively, is third in the POWERade point standings and seems to be a longshot for his 13th career championship. - "We've got a good race car, we've just got to get the driver tuned up. The thing is, I've gone (to the starting line) too many times thinking about what I have to do. You can't think when you go up there, you just have to react. I know better; I'll get better."

Gary Densham - driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang and a teammate of John Force. Densham went nearly 250 national events before earning his first NHRA victory (Memphis, Tenn., 2001). Densham has announced he will leave Force Racing at the end of the 2003 season and fund his own team. - "Heck, I ran almost 250 NHRA races (244) before I finally won. I hadn't given up. I knew that as long as I kept going to the final round (as he did six times with his own independently financed car), eventually the racing Gods would shine down on me. (Being a driver for Force Racing) has been all good. Working with (crew chief) Jimmy Prock and racing with John. It's a lot different racing as an independent. I've learned a lot about how the other half lives. The big thing is the money. To compete, you have to have sponsor dollars. No matter how innovative you are, without the money, today you just can't keep up."

Whit Bazemore - driver of the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus for Schumacher Racing and the current leader of the Funny Car standings following his win at Memphis, Tenn. - "It doesn't matter how strong you are, or how good you are, or what your situation is in the POWERade point standings, your first goal at any race is to qualify. As we've seen this year, sometimes it is hard to qualify and you really have to have your act together for every single run. The POWERade championship doesn't concern me at all right now. We just have to go and make every qualifying pass count and get into (eliminations). If we have any problems on the first day of qualifying, we have to be strong on the second day so we get into the show and race on Sunday."

Phil Burkart - driver of the Terminator 2: Extreme DVD Pontiac Firebird for Worsham Racing. Burkart replaced Arnie Karp in the cockpit of the Funny Car after Karp was injured in accident at his home in Massachusetts. Burkart, who has one career NHRA victory (Columbus, Ohio, 1999), is considerably smaller than Karp from a physical standpoint and had to have the driver's seat adjusted to compensate for the difference. - "Arnie and I look like a power forward and a point guard standing next to each other because we're built so differently. However, a Funny Car is a Funny Car. The team built the seat up for me, though they were joking about whether or not I needed to sit on a phone book, and as soon as I sat in the car I told the crew, 'I can reach the pedals, the steering wheel, the fuel shut-off, and everything else, so put your wrenches down and let's go racing.' I knew, just because it's a Worsham car with (crew chief) Garry Kennedy in charge, that I was getting into a good race car."

Greg Anderson - driver of the Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am and the current leader of the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock standings. Anderson, the former crew chief for six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, is the leading contender for the 2003 championship. -- "I know that right now my biggest competition for the championship is Kurt Johnson. I worked for Warren (Johnson) for a lot of years and know how he plays the game. I know that Warren is going to pull out all the stops to try to prevent me from winning even one more round. I know this, and I know that I have to take measures just as extreme to stay in the game. The first part of our plan is to get (teammate) Jason (Line) back out there. It is very important that I have him there as a blocker. I have great confidence in Jason and his abilities as a driver. In my opinion, (Jason's crash) at Columbus (Ohio) is no indication of what he can do behind the wheel. That incident was a fluke. I know that Jason will be able to get the job done for us. He is an asset to this team in the pits, and will be an even bigger asset behind the wheel. The second part of our plan is in the motor room. Performance-wise we have got the Pro Stock field covered. Our engine shop is the class of the field, and they continue to give me 150 percent every day. Without a doubt this two car team is going to be double-trouble for the rest of the season. I want the POWERade championship. Jason, and this KB Racing team, is going to make that happen for me."

Kurt Johnson - driver of the ACDelco Chevy Cavalier and the leading challenger to Greg Anderson for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship. - "In NASCAR, drivers battling for the championship have the luxury of finding a hole during the race, so they can ride around and score an average points finish. In drag racing, you have to be at your absolute best every time you take to the track. Whether you're ahead or behind, you have to treat every round as if it were the final. Neither Greg (Anderson), nor I can afford a first-round loss right now. He's trying to maintain the points lead, while I'm looking to make up ground. You work throughout the year to put yourself and your team in this type of situation, and this ACDelco crew is ready to fight all the way to the end."





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