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Fri, 5 Oct 2001, 02:16 PM

Under Funded but Full Of Heart
Courtesy of Jeff Romack, GM Racing Communications

Creasy Family Racing Perseveres

MOHNTON, Pa. -- The Creasy Family Racing team doesn't have the biggest budget in the NHRA Winston championship series, but they may have the most heart. After years of battling to stay competitive, the Creasy Racing program reached a monumental milestone at the recently completed NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. On his final qualifying pass of the weekend, Dale Creasy Jr. drove the Craftsman Tools Pontiac Firebird Funny Car to a career-best elapsed time of 4.987 seconds. Even though the run was only good enough for the No. 18 qualifying spot, it marked the first time that Creasy had turned a quarter-mile in less than five seconds resulting in an eruption of joy at the starting line from the team's crew members. Below, Dale Creasy Jr. talks about his season-to-date and the team's efforts to stay competitive.

How did it feel running your career-best e.t. at Route 66? "It was like a double-edged sword. I knew it had run well but then I knew it hurt itself too. It's been very seldom that we've had good numbers this year, but I could just tell that the run was good - our Pontiac Firebird was doing all the right things. The best part about it was after we downloaded the computer we found out that we weren't even leaning on it. We weren't even pushing on it real hard. It's finally nice to have some ability to go forward instead of trying to figure out how to get there. We put some new parts on it, just Friday morning, some new controlling devices, and that worked. Maybe that was what we've been missing, but it was just another expense that we couldn't afford until now. It was wonderful. When I got out of the car I knew it was hurt, but I was happy. It was great!"

What did the run do for your team? "It brought the moral back up. We were actually getting ready to hang it up for the season, but with that run it put another race on our schedule. Everybody knew it was hurt when they got down to the end of the track, but no one really cared. We care about the expense, but the progress - we've finally made some progress. For the last five races it's been there, just figuring out a way to get it to the other end was what we were working on and we finally did it. And to do it at home was very special in front of our hometown fans, our Craftsman representative, and Pontiac and everyone standing there watching was great. One good thing about hurting the motor is that ESPN and the commentators talked about it for 20 minutes. So it was bad that it hurt the motor, but it worked out okay because it ran well and we got a lot of press out of it."

At times the odds seem to be stacked against you. Why do you keep going? "I ask myself that very often. I think it's just the challenge. All season everyone has been telling us to go to Top Fuel, but I am not quitting what we started. It might have been a good thing to do at the beginning of the year, but the time and expense that we've put into this Funny Car to make it run, we would've wasted six months worth of money and time to switch over, and then we'd have to learn that program. But I love Funny Car. It's a big challenge. You can defeat it once, and it may get you back, but you can always go back after it one more time."

What races are you planning on going to the rest of the season? "Right now just Reading. After that we'll see what we have left over, and if we have enough parts we're going to try and finish out the season."

How long do you see yourself in the racing business? "I would like to race at least another 10 or 20 years. I'd like to drive at least that long, I don't know if I'll be able to but I'd like too. I just don't see myself doing anything else right now. I'm not the sit-at-home type person. I like sports but I'm not a sports playing person. I like to play basketball and golf, but I'm not good at either one. I guess I would have to learn how to do one of those if I quit racing."

Do you think you will stay in Funny Car? "As far as I know. I don't have any plans on going anywhere else. Unless an opportunity opens up where I'm offered something, then I would have to consider it, but as long as my dad is around and we're running our own car, I think we're going to stay where we're are."

What are your plans for next season? "The goal is to run all 24 races. I'm working on a few things as far as a sponsor goes. If I can get one major sponsor then I think a lot more smaller ones will come on because then they will see that somebody trusted us. If everything works out, we plan on going to all of them. It's just a budget issue and it's getting hard on my crew guys. They are all volunteers and paying their own way. If I could start offsetting their expense and get a couple of full-time guys, that would help.

That's what is hurting us right now. We don't have the same guys out there week in and week out. You can't be as good as a Force team or a Bazemore team without a full-time crew, and I don't even know if we could get to that level without consistent help."

Does having a family operation out at the track help? "I think that's all of it. That's what keeps everyone together. At least one of us at all times wants to keep going, nobody ever gets down. If it wasn't a family operation you'd start yelling at people. You can yell at family and tomorrow be buddies again. That's what has kept us going."

Where do you go from here with your program? "Well, we've gotten over another hurdle and now we go on to the next one. We look at the next challenge that lies ahead of us and we work to beat it. I've told everyone all along that we're going to be here until it ends and that's what I plan on doing."

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