Toliver, Schick Quattro Team Gear Up for Southern Nationals It Is First of Six Races in Seven-week Test of Funny Car Title Hopefuls COMMERCE, Ga., May 11, 2004 - If there were any challengers for the 2004 POWERade Series Funny Car championship...
Toliver, Schick Quattro Team Gear Up for Southern Nationals
It Is First of Six Races in Seven-week Test of Funny Car Title Hopefuls
COMMERCE, Ga., May 11, 2004 - If there were any challengers for the 2004 POWERade Series Funny Car championship who thought the pace for the first six races was more than a trot; they'd best be ready step up the pace.
While Jerry Toliver's new Schick Quattro/"Step into Liquid" Funny Car team needed the extra time afforded by the early schedule (six races over 11 weeks), it has to shift into a higher gear with what's up next - six races in seven weeks taking up the rest of May and almost all of June.
The Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals kicks off the busy schedule May 14-16 at Atlanta Dragway. Following stops will be at Chicago (May 21-23); Topeka, Kan. (May 28-20); Columbus, Ohio (June 11-13); Englishtown, N.J. (June 18-20); and St. Louis (June 25-27).
"This next stretch will be critical to the championship hopes of a lot of teams," said Toliver. "We are fortunate, in one respect, because we're having a good point battle in Funny Car and no driver has been able to run away with it. We've had five different winners in six races to show how competitive things really are. We've also had an up and down season as a team."
The Temecula, Calif., driver has one of those victories - in February at Pomona, Calif., -- and currently stands ninth in the tightly-bunched top 10. Toliver's 318 points do, however, keep him within easy striking distance of second place. He is, for example, 100 points (five rounds at 20 points per) behind No. 2 John Force and 56 points (three rounds) behind No. 3 Gary Densham (374). He trails fourth-place Tim Wilkerson by 33 points, No. 5 Eric Medlen by 28, No. 6 Whit Bazemore by 27 and No. 7 Phil Burkhart Jr. by 26.
"We lost a real good opportunity to close the gap on series leader Del Worsham (460 points) at Bristol (Tenn., May 3)," Toliver said of his first-round loss to Worsham. "It was a close race. I didn't know who won, it was that close. We could've moved much closer to Del with a win. We needed it. The car was on a very good run. It's early incremental times were equal to those on our 4.73 (second) run at Pomona, but then it spun the tires and slowed down."
Worsham won with a time of 4.830 seconds at 313.51 mph to Toliver's 4.865 at 317.87.
Toliver's 4.738 seconds at 328.22 mph performance remains the quickest and fastest Funny Car run of the year. And it's likely to remain that way until after the Southern Nationals. Forecasts calling for temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the low 60s usually don't provide conditions ideal enough for quick and fast times and speeds.
"The next six races are going to be very important for our team," added Toliver. "We are still working on our warm weather tune-up and we are getting close to perfecting it. We are likely to see a lot of hot weather racing between now and the end of June. By the time July rolls around, I believe our Schick Quattro/"Step into Liquid" team will be running with the best of them."
Toliver went to the semifinals in 2000 and has two first-round finishes at Atlanta Dragway.
Southern Nationals qualifying is scheduled Friday at 4:30 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.