Bristol: David Baca preview

David Baca, "the other rookie," hopes to add winning thunder to Thunder Valley. BRISTOL, Tenn. -- This weekend thunder will return to Thunder Valley (Bristol Dragway), the home of the third annual NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.

David Baca, "the other rookie," hopes to add winning thunder to Thunder Valley.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- This weekend thunder will return to Thunder Valley (Bristol Dragway), the home of the third annual NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals. Professional qualifying will anchor the first two days of the three day event, with two sessions on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and the final two sessions on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

For rookie Top Fuel driver David Baca, from Brentwood, Calif., driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage dragster, it will be business as usual. Baca, who is being labeled as "the other rookie," is quietly making his name known.

The title "the other rookie" is a moniker that Baca is wearing well. It stems from the fact that the media has already seemingly given the "Rookie of the Year" title, formally known in NHRA circles as the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, to fellow competitor Brandon Bernstein.

"Obviously, I've got an uphill battle to be named anything," said Baca, 43, the oldest rookie in the running for this year's Road to the Future award. "Brandon Bernstein has got two wins ahead of me already, although we're expecting to win a few ourselves here. Our goal is to make a run at it (the award) with him. It's an honor in and of itself just to be running for the rookie thing. I think that if I was running in another year and Brandon wasn't there, I might have an honest shot at it.

"Champions aren't made in one race. Rookie of the year isn't made in one race, two races or one fourth of the season. We still have seventy-five percent of the season to go. Any number of things could happen. Hopefully, if we start performing consistently well, winning races, then the decision makers for the award will stand up and take notice of us. We're not going to give up without a fight. We're out here to do the best job possible for our sponsors: American Racing, Waterloo Tool Storage and YP.net, as well as all our associate marketing partners that provide us the ability to go racing."

Thus far this season, Baca has qualified for all five NHRA events. He established a career best when he qualified third at the SummitRacing.com Nationals. Reaching the semifinals at Gainesville and Las Vegas, Baca is currently seventh in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings.

Baca acknowledges that he must do well at Bristol Dragway after a disappointing outing in Houston. "Thunder Valley is quite a place, quite a venue. We're excited on the progress our team has made so far this season. We stumbled at the last race a little bit but we're going to pick it back up and not miss out on going deep into the field on Friday.

"Last year this Henkelman & Baca team went to the semifinals here. We're excited about going into Bristol. It's going to be cool and there is usually a lot of good air on the mountain. We're looking forward to going real quick, real fast and going a lot of rounds. I'm optimistic and hopeful that this American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/YP.net dragster can put the winning thunder in Thunder Valley," concluded Baca.

-h&bm-

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Series NHRA
Drivers David Baca , Brandon Bernstein