Denver: Jerry Toliver preview

TOP 10 IS TOLIVER'S MISSION AS WESTERN SWING BEGINS IN DENVER THIS WEEKEND TEMECULA, Calif. (July 7, 2008) -- With one half of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in the record books, it is time for the drivers seeking to break into the...

TOP 10 IS TOLIVER'S MISSION AS WESTERN SWING BEGINS IN DENVER THIS WEEKEND

TEMECULA, Calif. (July 7, 2008) -- With one half of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in the record books, it is time for the drivers seeking to break into the top 10 in the standings to make their push to secure a spot for the Countdown to the Championship, which begins following the U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend. The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway this weekend is the start of the grueling three-race back-to-back Western Swing, which brings with it a strong opportunity for Jerry Toliver, driver of the Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, to make a move up in the rankings.

Toliver enters the 13th stop of the 24-race series in 16th place, and, although he has a shot at making the cutoff by Indy, the California native realizes he's fighting an uphill battle. Winning rounds on race day is key if he is to make up a 111-point deficit to earn him a berth in the top 10.

An interim ruling by the NHRA is in place this weekend that shortens the traditional 1320-ft. dragstrip to 1000 ft. as a safety measure in the wake of the top-end crash that resulted in the death of Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta last month in Englishtown, N.J.

"I think adaptation of the shorter finish line is a wise idea by the NHRA," Toliver said. "It is something that we had to do. We have to slow the cars down and quit hurting and killing people. End of story. Until they figure out some other way to slow these cars down that's the only thing they could do. It was a very good decision on NHRA's part."

Toliver qualified a season-best No. 4 at last year's race in Denver, setting top speed for the Funny Car class en route to a quarterfinal finish, but this year it's a new ball game. "Last season and this season are two totally different animals," he said. "This year we have a totally different program and it has nothing to do with what we're doing today. I really can't rely or lean on what we did last year. The only thing that's the same is the driver.

"I think our performance this season is coming up, but we're still not there. The season is half over and it's time to put up or shut up and we've got to make a move now. We've got to get the Rockstar Energy Drink Funny Car turned around and we've got to go rounds. I need to help crew chief Phil Shuler and he's got to help me, and we've got to work closely together and not miss any more opportunities.

"I'm excited about going to Denver and I know at any moment we can go rounds and win races. It's eluded us up to this point and it's frustrating, but we're certainly not going to slow down and stop trying to move forward and get the Rockstar Energy Drink Funny Car going.

"Bandimere is a unique facility," added Toliver. "Its way up in the mountains and it a neat place. Obviously, it's not like any other track we run on anywhere else, it's over a mile high and it plays havoc on the tune-up and it's definitely a challenge for the crew chiefs. There are a lot of changes in the dynamics in the way these cars perform. I've always enjoyed racing there and I'm looking forward to putting the Rockstar car in the winner's circle."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Kalitta , Jerry Toliver