2003 underway for Top Fuel driver David Baca

Henkelman & Baca Motorsports: 2003 underway for Top Fuel driver David Baca. CHANDLER, Ariz. -- For David Baca, of Brentwood, Calif., driver and partner of the Henkelman & Baca Top Fuel Dragster, the 2003 season is officially underway. Baca ...

Henkelman & Baca Motorsports: 2003 underway for Top Fuel driver David Baca.

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- For David Baca, of Brentwood, Calif., driver and partner of the Henkelman & Baca Top Fuel Dragster, the 2003 season is officially underway. Baca began preseason testing this past weekend at Firebird International Raceway, in Chandler, Ariz., just outside Phoenix.

For Baca, a second generation driver, 2003 will mark his first full year in Top Fuel on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. After a successful tenure in Top Alcohol Dragster (TAD), where he currently holds the NHRA TAD national speed record at 274.44 mph, Baca earned his NHRA Top Fuel license in August of 2002 and ran the final two races on the 2002 NHRA Powerade Top Fuel schedule.

"We did what we set out to do here at Phoenix," said Baca. "We had a twofold goal. First we wanted to get me as much seat time as possible during the test sessions and secondly, we want to get from point A to point B with some consistency. I feel we achieved both goals."

With veteran crew chief Johnny West, who has assumed the mechanical helm for 2003, handling the tuning duties at Phoenix, Baca's best pass yielded a run of 4.724 seconds at 295.01 mph on the Firebird quarter-mile.

West joined Henkelman & Baca Motorsports at the end of last season. West's drag racing roots run all the way back to 1972 when he first campaigned his own Funny Car. His Top Fuel experience began in 1997 when Bruce Sarver drove a rail rather than the flopper he pilots today. At Sarver's, he worked with veteran crew chief Lee Beard, who tuned the late Gary Ormsby, Sr. to a Top Fuel championship in 1989. From there he moved to Vandergriff Motorsports from 1998 until 2000.

In 2002, West served as crew chief for Doug Herbert, wrenching him to several passes in the 4.50 second range, two number one qualifying positions, one win and seventh place in the 2002 NHRA POWERade point standings. Just prior to his stint at Herbert's race team, West served as an assistant crew chief on Kenny Bernstein's Top Fuel title team of 2001.

West reflected on the weekend's testing. "With Phoenix being the first time that David (Baca) and I worked together, I feel we developed a good line of communication which is vital in the overall tuning of the car. He is getting more comfortable with each trip down the track and as a result is able to give good feedback on each run.

"The test session enabled us to establish a base line. From that base line we tried to step up the performance but found the car didn't like the increased power and we spent the rest of the weekend working on being consistent.

"Phoenix was all the testing we plan to do until the opening race in Pomona (California). We'll use the next few weeks to ready everything for that race and the season."

Baca hopes that he will be able to announce his 2003 marketing partners prior to the start of the season-opening K&N Filter Winternationals, February 6. "We've got some things working that are in the final stages and as soon as we dot the I's and cross the t's we will announce them," stated Baca, from his office in California.

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Kenny Bernstein , David Baca