Topeka: David Baca preview

David Baca wishes Brandon Bernstein a speedy recovery TOPEKA, Kan. -- While David Baca's concentration will be on this weekend's 15th annual NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals, he will continue to think of fellow Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein...

David Baca wishes Brandon Bernstein a speedy recovery

TOPEKA, Kan. -- While David Baca's concentration will be on this weekend's 15th annual NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals, he will continue to think of fellow Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein and wishes him a speedy recovery.

The story has been a topic of discussion all this week: Brandon, the son of veteran driver Kenny Bernstein, was injured in a horrific crash last weekend at the NHRA K&N Filters SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., sustaining a crushed vertebrae in the T3 to T4 spinal area. Fortunately, surgery was not necessary and Brandon will be fitted with a brace to immobilize the neck and upper back area, where the vertebrae are located. Recovery time, while not specific at this time, is expected to take several months.

"Brandon (Bernstein) was having an outstanding year and had already positioned himself to be in contention throughout the season for the run to the POWERade Top Fuel Championship when the accident happened," said Baca. "I pray for a speedy and full recovery and look forward to racing Brandon side-by-side when he is able to return to the track."

For Baca, a 43-year-old rookie, it will be his first time to drive his Henkelman & Baca Motorsports American Racing/ Waterloo Tool Storage/YP.net dragster on the quarter-mile track at Heartland Park Topeka. Entering the event, Baca is seventh in the current POWERade Top Fuel point standings with 407 points. While the top three in the point standings have been engaged in their own three-way battle for the lead through eight of the 23 events on the 2003 schedule, only 30 points separate position four from position nine. Baca is 21 points behind fourth.

Baca, who resides in Brentwood, Calif., has qualified third and fourth in the last two events and advanced to the semifinals two races ago in Atlanta and to the quarterfinals last weekend in Englishtown, N.J.

"Each time you qualify high in the field the team gains confidence and that does a lot to maintain morale and continue our motivation to move into the top five in points. As I said at Englishtown, we want to put ourselves in a position to win a race and feel we have the opportunity to do just that at Topeka. Winning isn't easy and on Sunday 15 other guys are saying the same thing, but if we continue to pull together as a team, do everything right and have a little luck then we should put ourselves in a position to win this weekend," said Baca.

Qualifying for the Baca and Henkelman & Baca Motorsports team begins Friday with two sessions, one at 5 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. Qualifying concludes on Saturday with two sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations for all classes get underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , David Baca , Brandon Bernstein