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DeLong and winding road

Santa Clarita NASCAR competitors keeping it all in the family

Posted: August 1, 2008 9:33 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Rich DeLong III, a graduate of Valencia High School, sits in one of the race cars owned by DeLong Racing while other members of the team admire from the other side of the vehicle. DeLong III is currently ranked No. 2 in the NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stocks standings.

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After the teaming of the success of DeLong Racing with the resources of Tri-Signal Integration, 20-year-old Rich DeLong III is having the best year of his four-year racing career.

The third-generation driver from Santa Clarita is second in the NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stocks points standings, 26 points behind leader Bryan Harrell of Riverside. He also races King Taco Super Trucks. On Aug. 9, he will make is debut racing ACDelco Super Late Model cars.

"When you're racing side-by-side and see you're an inch away, it's fun battling," DeLong III said.

Driving the No. 84 Chevrolet Camaro, DeLong III has put together two second-place and five straight third-place finishes.

He also wears a sticker on his helmet that reads "Welcome Baby Nate," for his nephew, who was born in July. Every time he's worn it, he's finished in the top five.

DeLong III spoke of another young person, Charly Dale, an 11-year-old girl he met at the track last year that was diagnosed with cancer. She lost her battle on June 14.

"I got all the drivers at the track to put her Web site, friendsofcharly.com, on their cars," he said. "Since her passing I have picked up a few other charities that I try and help raise awareness for, and those are BabyCancer.Org and RachelsHugaBears.Org.

As far as action on the track is concerned, "This is the first time we were real competitive," DeLong III said.
"The best part is you do real well and the team gets pumped up."

In eight races dating back to March 23, DeLong has only been out of the top five once. His next competition is on Aug. 9, the last takes place on Oct. 12. He was Rookie of the Year in 2005, sixth in the standings in ‘06, and seventh in ‘07.

There is also a Fall Classic on Oct. 24 in Las Vegas in which every driver in the top eight of the point standings will receive automatic bids. Last year, DeLong finished sixth out of 32 drivers.

"This is the best we've ever run consecutively," DeLong III said.

Each driver in the Super Stock series races against 21 others. There are 40 laps and 20 miles in each main event.

DeLong III has an advantage in that he belongs to a team that owns six cars. The co-owner of Tri-Signal, located in Sylmar, is Dennis Furden, who is one of four rookie drivers, along with Jason DeLong - DeLong III's brother - Frank Burnette and Johnny Roberts. Furden is currently ranked 14th out of 42 drivers in the ACDelco Super Late Model standings.

"It helps out, because we can try stuff out on other cars before we try it out on our car," DeLong III said.

"It's our own research and development."

The headquarters of Rich DeLong, Jr. and Furden are in Stevenson Ranch.

"I've been racing since I was six," Furden said. "I raced until I was 22, then I quit until I was 45."

Although Furden is having fun competing and being part of a team, he knows the Alpha dog racer is still DeLong III.

"We're putting all our eggs in one basket," Furden added. "He's got better skills and better hand-eye coordination. So much of racing is technique."

DeLong, Jr. raced from 1986 to 2002. He has been instrumental in much of the car mainteannance, repairs and payments.

"Our main focus was to win a championship and win Rookie of the Year for Frank (Burnette)," DeLong Jr. said.

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