Jerry Toliver Wins Winternationals
Surprises Funny Car Field at NHRA Winternationals
POMONA, Calif., February 29, 2004 - What a comeback! Jerry Toliver returned to NHRA competition in amazing style Sunday, winning the K&N Filters Winternationals driving in his first race since March 2002 .
He did so in impressive style. At times he needed a little luck, but the performance of his Schick Quattro Toyota Celica Funny Car ultimately delivered the victory. Toliver, for example, stunned Del Worsham and the large Pomona Raceway crowd in the semifinals, running a career-best 4.738 seconds and 328.22 mph. The speed was the fourth fastest in Funny Car.
Toliver was good in the title round, stopping Gary Densham with a 4.821-second, 319.29-mph run to a 4.955 at 327.11 mph. The victory was his fifth in nine final rounds, his second at the Winternationals and his third at Pomona Raceway. It was one to savor.
"It's wonderful to be back," Toliver said. "We have a great group of guys on this team. They are all professionals; they've been in the sport a long time. We have a great program and I'm so pleased that Schick Quattro believed in what we are doing. It was a wonderful day."
In 24 hours, Toliver went from sweating qualifying for the event to the winner's circle. It took good tuning calls from crew chief Keith Adams, winning in his first solo effort in the role; an incredibly quick engine change by the crew before the semifinals; and some gritty driving by the veteran driver from Temecula, Calif.
Toliver qualified 15th on his fourth and final attempt, keeping the car in the center of the track while his foot was firmly planted on the floor. He was time was 4.952 at 283.43 mph.
He only went slower one time in his next four runs. Toliver began eliminations with an upset decision over No. 2 qualifier Eric Medlen (4.882 at 319.52); posted a 5.416 at 198.67 mph to move into the semis when rival Cory Lee fouled away his chances at the starting line; beat Worsham and then Densham.
Toliver leads the Funny Car points with 101, the first time he's been the leader since July 2000. Densham is second with 93 and Gary Scelzi third at 75.
The team will savor this unexpected victory for a few days before getting back in the car Friday when the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals unfolds at Phoenix, March 5-7.