Baytown: David Baca preview

David (Baca) takes on the Top Fuel goliaths in Houston. BAYTOWN, Texas -- Following the lines of the biblical story of "David and Goliath", Henkelman & Baca Motorsports continue to be the "David" of the NHRA Top Fuel class again, this time...

David (Baca) takes on the Top Fuel goliaths in Houston.

BAYTOWN, Texas -- Following the lines of the biblical story of "David and Goliath", Henkelman & Baca Motorsports continue to be the "David" of the NHRA Top Fuel class again, this time with David Baca behind the wheel of the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage dragster.

At the end of 2001, Baca and Rick Henkelman, both former alcohol drivers, began exploring the opportunities of fielding a Top Fuel dragster and in 2002 the dream became a reality with the formation of Henkelman & Baca Motorsports.

One week prior to the 2002 K&N Filters Winternationals, the pair hired veteran Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan. With McClenathan handling the driving and Wes Cerny the tuning, the team advanced to four final rounds, winning one, and finished in fifth position in the final NHRA POWERADE® Top Fuel point standings.

In 2003, with a rookie driver, Baca, and a new crew chief in the person of Johnny West, it's dejà vu for Henkelman & Baca Motorsports. With semifinal round appearances at the last two NHRA national events, Baca, from Brentwood, Calif., has jumped to fifth position in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings and once again Henkelman & Baca is doing battle with the Goliaths of Top Fuel.

"We're very excited going into the Houston race," said Baca, as the team prepared for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals this weekend at Houston Raceway Park. "Our performance has continued to improve each race and as a result we are going rounds. We're hoping to continue on at Houston.

"Houston is probably just the opposite of last weekend's race in Las Vegas. In Vegas, the air is marginal because of the altitude, but the track is tremendous. At Houston Raceway Park the air is usually outstanding but the track, at times, is marginal. That's an older surface and that has its challenges. The fuel cars should have plenty of power in Houston and we're very optimistic about our chances this weekend.

"The teams and fans may think of us as a David in the land of Top Fuel Goliaths and that we haven't paid our dues. But you know what, we proved that we were for real last season with a veteran driver and we're beginning to prove it once again with a rookie driver, although I consider myself a rookie in name only. I'm not saying I don't have things to learn. I do but, after all, between Rick Henkelman, Johnny West and myself, we have nearly a 100 years experience in drag racing. I'm living a fantasy. I'm living a dream. It's taking me a long time to get here and I just hope we continue to move forward and see success."

Henkelman & Baca Motorsports will begin their quest for the Top Fuel title at the 16th annual NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil when qualifying for the fuel cars gets underway on Friday with two sessions, one at 4 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m. Two additional qualifying sessions will be run at 12 noon and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-h&bm-

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Series NHRA
Drivers David Baca , Cory McClenathan