Pomona II: David Baca preview

Vying for race title, shootout title and rookie award David Baca has full plate for season-final weekend POMONA, Calif. (October 28, 2003) -- Rookie driver David Baca has much on his plate as he approaches the season- final weekend of the 2003...

Vying for race title, shootout title and rookie award David Baca has full plate for season-final weekend

POMONA, Calif. (October 28, 2003) -- Rookie driver David Baca has much on his plate as he approaches the season- final weekend of the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the season-ending NHRA Automobile Club of Southern California Finals, Nov. 6-9.

Entering the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals, Baca, driver of the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/ Skill Clean dragster, is currently in sixth place in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings, with an opportunity to join the top five by the time the sun sets on Sunday evening of race weekend.

"Our goal has been to finish in the top five since the 2003 season began," said Baca. "Even though we started slow, being as low as 13th after Phoenix, we worked ourselves back up to sixth with consistency to put ourselves in a position to realize our goal. Entering Pomona we need to make up 67 points to finish in fifth. This team is capable of doing that and are going all out to do so."

In 2003, Baca has qualified for all 22 events (through Las Vegas) on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. At the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, he captured the first No. 1 qualifying position of his career and followed that with another pole position (No. 1) at Memphis.

Baca was runner-up at Sonoma and reached the semifinals at Gainesville, Las Vegas and Atlanta. His rookie season performance has been right there with the veterans, running a career best elapsed time of 4.499 seconds and a career best speed of 326.32 mph on the quarter-mile track at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

His performance has won him a spot in the Budweiser Shootout, a special race-within-a-race, being held Saturday during the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals. He will open against Tony Schumacher in the first round of the Shootout.

If that isn't enough, there's still more on his plate. Baca is making a bid for this year's Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award (Rookie of the Year). One of only two drivers nominated for the award, Baca is not your average rookie.

While you tend to think of a rookie as young and just starting out in drag racing, Baca, at 45, is older -- or to be more politically correct: more mature. At an age when many drivers are beginning to think about retiring, Baca, a second generation driver, is just getting started.

Baca's performance on the track and his promotional activities and support of NHRA off the track, thus far this season, punctuates the reason those who vote for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award are taking notice of the successful businessman and former Top Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster driver from Northern California.

"Win or lose any of the three -- the race and our bid for fifth, the Shootout or the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award -- I feel that both me and this team, led by crew chief Johnny West and my partner Rick Henkelman have had a better than average rookie season," said Baca. "To be a rookie driver going to the Budweiser Shootout is a great thing. To just be mentioned in the running for the Road to the Future Award is great, too. And whether anybody remembers, Rick (Henkelman) and I are defending champs as team owner at the Finals. There's a lot going on at Pomona. Our plate is full and only time will tell what happens."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , David Baca