Jensen takes father’s car to winner’s circle

Jensen takes father’s car to winner’s circle

Jodauga, John

As were many of the current generation of drag racers, Jeremy Jensen was introduced to the sport when he went to local tracks to watch his father Jeff compete.

Said Jensen, “My dad helped found a racing program at Music City Raceway called the Tennessee Pro Gas Association in the early 1990s, and I grew up watching him race. They would run three races a month for nine months out of the year, so I got to see a lot of races while I was with him.”

Jensen, 22, began driving his father’s Super Gas ’86 Corvette six years ago after he earned his driver’s license. This season, he made his father’s ultimate dream come true when he scored the family’s first national event victory at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals.

“My dad can’t attend many of my races because he has to stay home and work,” said Jensen, “but I was really glad that he was able to attend this one. The farthest that he made it at national events was getting down to the final 10 cars or so and getting to race on Sunday. He told me he was really proud of me after the win.

“Dad still owns the car and is the crew chief, but I handle everything when he isn’t able to go to the races with me,” said Jensen. “I usually travel with Todd Senseney [who won Super Comp earlier this year in Bristol] and Phillip Chester. They’re basically my traveling companions, but they’re also the first ones to lend a hand when I need it.”

Jensen believes the rigorous demands of Superclass racing, which requires a tremendous amount of focus on the starting and finish lines, are the sport’s greatest assets.

“It’s no surprise to me to see former Sportsman drivers like Jeg Coughlin and Dave Connolly win so many of their races on holeshots,” he said. “I believe this is the best form of training any driver who eventually wants to be a Pro can get.”

The key race: Jensen said that the pivotal moment for him in eliminations was his quarterfinal race against veteran Ray Connolly. “The winner of that round got a bye in the semi’s for a guaranteed berth into the final,” said Jensen. “Also, Ray’s car is a lot faster than mine, so that made things pretty interesting on the top end.” Connolly got a slight .013 to .014 jump off the line, but Jensen took the win, 9.928 to 9.933. Said Jensen, “I think he was expecting me to dump, so he let off. I braked it a bit but never lifted, and he ended up giving it back to me by .004.”

The runner-up: Jimmy Lewis, of Forney, Texas, is certainly no stranger to final rounds: He won Super Gas at this year’s O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX in Topeka in May and runner-upped at the this race in 2001. A national event winner on many occasions, Lewis was the NHRA Super Gas champion in 1998.

Fast fact: Donald Boyd and Mike Fuqua pulled off the rare feat of recording perfect 9.900s on back-toback runs to open the second round. Fuqua broke out in the next round with a 9.879 against Dave Dahlem, and Boyd went too quick with a 9.896 in the fifth round against Steve Cohen.

Did you know? Jensen has an exterior cleaning business and is a full-time student at Austin Peay State University, where he majors in business management. “I’ve had the business since I was 16,” said Jensen. “To stay competitive in drag racing, you need to have a good source of income, and I’m hoping the business will provide that for me.”

Quotable: “My lights were between .011 and .018, and that’s usually what I’ve been able to do since they switched to the LED bulbs on the Tree. They really put all of the teams on a level playing field, even the ones with cars that don’t react well off the starting line. Before, with the incandescent bulbs, we only had about .020 to .025 in the delay box. Now we have to go with .050 or .060 to stay green.” – Jeremy Jensen

Best packages: 1. Mike Fuqua CHendersonville, Tenn.) .004/9.900 (round two); 2. Wendall Keesaer (Sweet Springs, Mo.) .008/9.901 (round two); Scott Wagner (Shawnee, Kansas) .010/9.901 (round two).

Copyright National Hot Rod Association Jul 16, 2004

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