Much riding on Denver for Baca
MORRISON, Colo. -- Almost three weeks has gone by since David Baca and the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports team have raced. The team is rested and ready to go for this weekend's NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in historic Morrison, Colo.
With back-to-back-to-back races in Denver, Seattle and Baca's home track in Sonoma, Calif. starting the final 11 races of the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Baca knows that, to be successful, the team must show that they can run with the big dogs. Baca must step forward and prove that he is a legitimate contender for the AAA Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award (Rookie of the Year).
Last year Baca, as a team owner, watched as his driver Cory McClenathan finished runner-up at the Denver event; this year he is behind the wheel of the American Racing/ Waterloo Tool Storage/Skill Clean Top Fuel dragster.
"At the start of the season we came out with high expectations but struggled the first few races," reflected Baca. "Then we went like gangbusters for three or four races in a row. Now for the last few races we've been in a mid-season lull, but if you look back at last year when Cory was driving we did just about the same thing and our big turnaround came at Denver. So we're hoping Denver will have the same magic for us this year.
"As I review our progress at mid-season, I would like to think that we are at the low point of our points contention. I would like to think there is no way to go but up. Heck, we're only 89 points out of fifth and 180 points behind third. I still believe, and I'm going to stand fast, even with the limited budget we have when compared to the big teams, that we are a top five contender.
"When some major corporation comes along and gives us the same type of budget some of the other teams have, I do believe that we can give it a go for the POWERade championship. We are going for the championship this season, but when your budget is limited sometimes you can't be quite as aggressive as the top money teams."
Regarding three races on three consecutive weekends Baca says, "Without question these three races on three straight weekends in the summertime is a challenge at best. But even with the time off I'm looking forward to getting back in the driver's seat. There is a plus for me in that my family can come to two out of the three races. Then the last of the three races is at my home track, Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. That adds a whole new set of pressures for me but that's another subject for another time.
"Denver is the time to go some rounds and begin a push for points. I would like to be in the top five or knocking on the door to fifth by the time we finish the end of the three race western swing. That's our goal. It could potentially give us a big push forward in the AAA Road to the Future Award. If we don't get going there are some Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike guys that are going to leave us far behind in respect to the award. Much is riding on Denver."