There's an old saying in business that states, 'You're only as good as your people.' I've learned that this is true through personal experience because I have great people on my Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team.

I have been fortunate to know what a championship race team looks like. In 1992, Larry Minor and the McDonald's Funny Car team had all of the pieces in place. We won national events, were consistent, and had a great mix of talent and enthusiasm. It was a perfect storm, so to speak.

For the first time in a while, I see some of the same things happening to this team. We have all of the pieces to make a serious run at a second NHRA POWERade Funny Car world championship, and as I've already mentioned, we have some of the best people in the sport. I saw a little bit of what this team can do during preseason testing, when we consistently placed on top of the elapsedtime and speed charts. At some level, we were in midseason form in January.

It all begins at the top with crew chief Wes Cerny and co-crew chiefs Sam Shockely and Ron Douglas. What they bring to the table is a great combination of experience, familiarity, and youthful enthusiasm. It's exciting because these guys want to win and, more important, know how to win.

Wes joined the team last year after working with many of drag racing's best teams. We worked together in 1998 with Joe Gibbs Racing, and we enjoyed a great deal of success, winning five races and qualifying No. 1 a career-best 12 times. That team was very formidable, but I think this team is even better. Wes has brought consistency to this team. He's very methodical in how he approaches the racetrack and our qualifying setups. We've also had more than a year to become comfortable with each other.

Having Sam Shockely and Ron Douglas onboard has been a big boost to the team. Sam was my crew chief back in my Top Alcohol days with Gary Turner, and we have a level of comfort with each other - that's real important. I'm real excited about Ron; he's young, knowledgeable, and dedicated. Considering what he brings to the table, he might be a cross between Dickie Venables and Jimmy Prock. Ron has a lot of experience with Funny Cars, but for the last six seasons he was one of Doug Herbert's main crewmembers.

Another reason why I'm so optimistic this year is that my brother Tony now has a year under his belt with the Q Racing Funny Car. Once that team gets a little more consistent with its race-day setup, it will be scary good. If the first two races are any indication, Tony is going to have a great season.

Wes and Dickie complement each other. Wes likes to create a solid base during qualifying, and Dickie likes to be aggressive and attack the track.

Combined, Tony and I have 25 of the best employees in drag racing, and we truly appreciate their effort, talent, and dedication to winning. For me, it's like having everything in place to make a championship run in the NFL. You need a solid base on the offensive and defensive lines and the ability to offer a consistent ground attack when conditions aren't perfect. But your team also needs a quarterback who can be aggressive and create a devastating vertical game when called upon.

Speaking of great teammates, Tony and I recently signed Great Stuff as a major associate sponsor. It is the number-one brand of insulating foam in the world, and it's great stuff, no pun intended. I know this firsthand because my wife Sharon and I have a little farm back home, and we used the product to seal some of our wallboards to keep the critters out of our buildings. This is also a great relationship for the company because a lot of NHRA fans like to do things themselves.

I want to close by thanking our great sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Snap-on Tools, Purolator, Mark Christopher Chevrolet, Palm's hotel & Casino, Mr. Gasket, and Sioux City Truck.

Copyright National Hot Rod Association Mar 25, 2005
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