COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2003) -- It was a match up of rookie drivers when David Baca, driver of the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/YP.net dragster, met Chris Vandergriff, who is competing in his first professional competition, in the...
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2003) -- It was a match up of rookie drivers when David Baca, driver of the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/YP.net dragster, met Chris Vandergriff, who is competing in his first professional competition, in the opening round of eliminations at the 23rd annual NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Vandergriff, brother of veteran Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff, Jr., was away first as the Christmas Tree (starting lights) turned green. Baca, a second generation driver from Brentwood, Calif., began to reel him in and crossed the finish line in 4.603 second. Slightly behind was Vandergriff crossing the stripe in 4.749 seconds. Baca moved to round two, while Vandergriff showed he belongs in Top Fuel.
In the second round against Rhonda Hartman-Smith, Baca and Hartman-Smith switched lanes just prior to starting the engine with Baca taking the right lane. At the start of racing today, the left lane was the lane of choice. Now the choice is the right lane. Lane choice may have been the difference as Baca once again took the win light. This time in 4.783 seconds.
Traction was Baca's downfall in the semifinals against Darrell Russell. Striking the tires at the green light allowed Russell to race to the win. While Baca coasted down the Atlanta Dragway in 11.624 seconds, Russell blazed to a 4.650 second pass at 318.17 mph in the heat of a sunny Georgia day.
"We're rebounding, filling that glass back up," said Baca. "The guys on this team continue to work hard. The hot rod ran well this weekend. In the semifinals I left on the kid (Darrell Russell). I feel a lot better after this weekend's race than I did in Bristol. We're good to go going into E'town (Englishtown, New Jersey).
In the final round, Larry Dixon won Top Fuel by turning back Darrell Russell. With his semifinal appearance, Baca gained one position in points. Baca now has 352 points and holds seventh place in the NHRA POWERade(r) Top Fuel point standings after seven of 23 events.
"We're getting back into the thick of the point race. At this point it looks like an eight team race, with maybe two breaking away from the field. The remainder you can throw a blanket over. You going to have a hell of a pick 'em with three through eight," concluded Baca.
Next up for Baca and the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports/American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/YP.net Top Fuel Dragster is the 34th annual NHRA K&N Filters SuperNationals, May 15-18, at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.