Demke continues to defy odds with third win by ProQuest


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									                              TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER — 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 12-15, Brainerd

                             Demke continues to defy odds with third win

by Steve Waldron                                                                     Chris Demke (left) won his class-leading third national event of the season with a
                                                                                     final-round victory over Duane Shields (above). Demke made the quickest run of the

W            hen the season began,
             no one figured Chris
             Demke for a national
championship contender, least of
all himself. But after his class-
                                                                                     weekend and needed it to catch his quicker-leaving opponent, 5.28 to 5.32.

                                                                                    that go-as-fast-as-you-
                                                                                    can mentality, but
                                                                                    we’re learning. I think
                                                                                                                 No. 1, setting low e.t. and top speed, and
                                                                                                                 winning the race, I think we answered any
                                                                                                                 questions that anybody may have had about the
leading third national event win at                                                 we learned some              Seattle victory.”
the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the                                                   things here that we’ll           After qualifying No. 1 for the second straight
only driver ahead of Demke in                                                       be able to apply to          race and fourth time this season with a 5.36,
points is four-time defending                                                       the divisional events.       Demke made four quicker runs in eliminations, all
national champion Bill Reichert.                                                    But time will tell.          within four-hundredths of a second. He soloed to a
    “If you told me at the beginning                                                We’ll just have to wait      5.32 in round one and ran a 5.30 at 271.24 mph
of the year that I’d be in this                                                     and see.”                    (top speed) in round two, which would have
position, I would have laughed at                                                       Coming off a             beaten Mike Austin’s 5.41 even if Austin hadn’t
you,” said Demke. “It’s just hard to                                                bittersweet victory in       red-lighted. Demke then advanced to his 11th
believe that I’m a contender for a                                                  Seattle, marred by           career national event final with a 5.31 to 5.34
national championship. There’s still                                                the death of fellow          victory over Marty Thacker.
a lot of racing to go and a lot of                                                  competitor Mark                  “When the car runs quick like that, it’s really
things can change, but I’m going to                                                 Niver, and a second-         easy to drive,” said Demke. “It makes me look
enjoy it while I can.”                                 round loss at the Division 7 race in Sonoma,              good, and it’s really not my doing. It’s Jerry
    Demke, who before his victory at the season        Demke responded with a resounding win in                  Maddern and the crew — those are the guys who
opener in Pomona hadn’t won a national event           Brainerd.                                                 make the performance happen.”
in seven seasons driving his stepfather Jerry             “In Seattle, I won the race, but because I only            Runner-up Duane Shields, a winner in
Maddern’s Peen-Rite dragster, moved ahead of           had to beat one guy, that victory was kind of             Gainesville and Topeka, qualified his A/Fueler No.
last year’s second-ranked driver, Jim Whiteley,        called into question,” said Demke, who would              5 with a 5.40 and ran 5.35 and 5.29 in respective
and into second place with his second straight         have raced Niver in the final. “We came here and          victories against Darren Nicholson and Scott
national event victory.                                wanted to make a statement, and by qualifying             Palmer before soloing to a 5.38 in the semi’s.
    “The team and I realize that we’re in contention
for something big, and it’s time to start thinking
strategically,” said Demke, who has never finished
higher than seventh nationally. “We’re going to [the
Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil],
and we’re looking around to see what else is
available. I really need to go to some divisional
races and pick up points, and that’s what we’re
looking to do.”
    In contrast to his three wins in six national
events, Demke has just one win and a runner-up
in five divisional races.
    “Our tune-up just works better on good
tracks, and when we go to a bad track, it’s really
hard to back things down,” said Demke, a three-
time Division 7 champion. “It just goes against 
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