Steady Baca braces for big first-round race
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 12) -- Ask any drag racer and they'll tell you consistency is what wins races. Mach 1 Air Services driver David Baca hopes that is the case as the fourth-year pro turns to Sunday's elimination action at the 25th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals with one of the steadiest cars at Brainerd International Raceway.
After opening qualifying with a feel-it-out 4.82, crew chief Rick Henkelman has since tuned Baca to runs of 4.62, 4.61, and 4.60 seconds. His best pass, officially a 4.604-second run at 321.88 mph, places him ninth in the field and sets up a first-round race against POWERade points leader Doug Kalitta, who qualified one spot better than Baca with a 4.580 at 320.36 mph. Kalitta holds a 9-3 lifetime advantage against Baca.
"Dougie's had our number lately but whenever you have a car that goes down the racetrack every time your confidence goes sky-high," Baca said. "Doug was a little erratic this weekend, which is odd for them, but maybe that will play to our advantage. His best run isn't much quicker than ours so to me it's a toss-up race. We just need to execute like we know how to do and see what happens."
Kalitta's four runs show a 4.58, a 4.62, a 4.71, and a 5.09. "You might as well catch the points leader when he's a tad off," Baca said. "The reality is you have to beat them all to win a race so bring 'em on."
Throughout the weekend, Baca and fellow Top Fuel pro "Hot Rod" Fuller have been drawing attention to DonateLife.com, which promotes organ donation. Both Fuller's mother Cathy and Baca's father-in-law Frank Gau have received organ transplants. Cathy received a liver while Gau benefited from an artery for his heart.
"We just want people to know what their options are in regards to donating their organs in the event they want to help," Baca said. "Both Rod and I know the benefits of organ donation. One donor can positively impact more than 60 needy people. It truly is the gift of life, like they always say."
Baca has become diehard endorser of charitable causes this year. Together with his sponsor Mach 1 Air Services, a Phoenix-based air freight forwarder, Baca has supported DonateLife.com organ donation, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, cancer research for adults and children through the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Alex's Lemonade Stands, and children touched by the 9/11 disaster with the Mark Hindy Foundation.
"We like to use our racecar to help in any way we can and we've jumped at every chance to do exactly that this year," Baca said. "It's something we believe in very strongly."