The King bests Baca in opening round

ENNIS, Texas (October 12, 2003) -- David Baca, driver of the American Racing/Waterloo/Skill Clean Top Fuel dragster, lost to Kenny Bernstein in the opening round of today's eliminations at the NHRA O'Reilly Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec.

Baca gave Bernstein all he could handle but came up short at the finish line. Baca recorded a run of 4.654 seconds at 313. 91 mph, while Bernstein covered the Texas Motorplex quarter-mile in 4.628 seconds at 323.15 mph for the win.

"David did a stellar job at the starting line," said crew chief Johnny West. "We had the car set to run about 4.50 (seconds) but lost a cylinder at the hit (start). All in all the car still ran a good number. I'm not sure why we dropped the cylinder but we'll find out why before (Las) Vegas."

Baca and the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/ Skill Clean team now get a well-deserved weekend off before moving to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 3rd annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 23-26.

In the point battle, Baca continues to reside in the No. 6 position in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings. He now has 978 points, 54 behind the No. 5 position.

Developments off the track find Baca one of two finalists for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which annually recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. In addition to a ceremonial trophy, the award carries a $20,000 prize. The other candidate is Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein. The award will be presented during the NHRA's annual awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 10 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.