JOLIET, ILLINOIS ? Dale Creasy Jr. will never be accused of being an overnight sensation. That is one thing the Funny Car pilot will never be called ? ever. Creasy will have been in more than 100 NHRA national events when he brings the Craftsman Tools Pontiac Firebird to the outskirts of Chicago in September. He has yet to snag his first professional victory, but that has not discouraged the Lansing, Ill., resident. ?We are a baby-steps kind of team,? Creasy said. ?We are trying to learn what to do, then how to do it well, and then how to do it well consistently. Every once in a while, we sneak up on somebody.? Creasy and the team would like nothing more than to sneak up on the entire Funny Car field at the second annual Craftsman 75thAnniversary Nationals, Sept. 26-29, at Route 66 Raceway. Kenny Bernstein, Whit Bazemore and Warren Johnson are the defending winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.9 million race, the 0th of 3 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERADE Drag Racing Series. Not only will Creasy be in the event sponsor?s car, but also he will be racing in front of the numerous friends and family members. ?I think racing at my home track and the sponsor?s home track is a great opportunity for everyone to come out and see what we do,? Creasy said. ?Some of the Craftsman people watch our races on TV and a few have come out to other events, but this time we are going to have a big hospitality are next to our pit area. They will have a chance to get an up-close view of what the team has to do to get this racecar on the track. ?There is a little extra pressure knowing everyone is going to be there, but I think there is a lot of pressure at every NHRA event, so I can?t worry too much about that. But really, if there wasn?t any pressure, I don?t think I would be involved in racing.? Creasy has been racing with the NHRA since 1997, and he has failed to qualify for more than half of the events he entered. This season, however, the team has shown sings of great improvement. Last year they DNQ?d in 17 of 19 events he attended. This season, going into the Mac tools U.S. Nationals, Creasy has qualified for all but three races, winning a couple of round along the way. ?Actually, this has been a pretty good year for us because we are qualifying pretty well. Much better than we have in the past couple of years,? Creasy said. ?Things are progressing. I have had a better race car this year than I have in the past, and that is making me more confident as a driver every time we pull up to the starting line.? Creasy has not been driving in Funny Car competition for very long, but he has been working within the sport for more than 20 years. Thinking about winning is tough to avoid.? ?I try not to think about what it would be like to get that first win,? Creasy said. ?But we do think about it. I don?t know how I will react, but it will be good for all of us. My dad has been in racing for a long time and we?ve been close, but we haven?t won at an NHRA national event yet. If we keep working like we are, it will come. I call it cautious optimism, and that is what drag racing is all about.? ?I love racing. I like the speed and I am constantly challenged. It is always a battle with the cars and every race track. I really enjoy what I am doing.? Winning the battle at Route 66 Raceway would be the ultimate prize for the Creasy family. ?We are going to be racing in front of a lot of friends and family and we want to do well there,? Creasy said. ?We ran well in the first race at Route 66 Raceway this season, but we just got out-run in the first round. We want to turn that around and maybe beat one or two guys, especially since this is the first time Craftsman has sponsored that race. That is big for them and it?s big for us. There is going to be added exposure, but pressure comes with that. We?re OK about that. That?s just the name of the game.? ? SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying is scheduled for 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 followed by two sessions at noon and 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sept. 29. ? TICKETS: Tickets are available for the second annual Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals. Call Route 66 Raceway at (815) 727-RACE for ticket information. Tickets are also available at and ? TELEVISION: ESPN2 will televise 90 minutes qualifying highlights at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 28. ESPN2 will televise 150 minutes eliminations t 8 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 29. ? ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at
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