Denver: Jerry Toliver preview

Jerry Toliver Ready to Begin Second Half on a Good Note Thanks to Improved Schick Quattro Toyota Celica Funny Car Performance DENVER, July 14, 2004 - Tuning a Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car in the Mile-High city has been compared to gambling -...

Jerry Toliver Ready to Begin Second Half on a Good Note
Thanks to Improved Schick Quattro Toyota Celica Funny Car Performance

DENVER, July 14, 2004 - Tuning a Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car in the Mile-High city has been compared to gambling - as in a roll of the dice or asking the dealer for another card while sitting at 18 in black jack.

Getting those nitromethane-fueled engines to run is difficult enough at sea level, but this is the only time all season the cars will run in oxygen-deprived air like this.

That's enough for Jerry Toliver, driver of the Schick Quattro Toyota Celica Funny Car. He'll be looking for his first victory at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Bandimere Speedway in nearby Morrison. The race is the 13th of 23 in the NHRA POWERade Series and the first since NHRA imposed a new tire rule for Top Fuel and Funny Car following the death of Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell (June 25).

"We've had a couple weeks off, it was nice to be home and I enjoyed it, but I'm excited to get to racing," he said. "I don't think the tire rule (specifying one tire and tire pressure) will be a problem and racing at Denver won't tell us much because it's kind of a crazy place to race. It's not like any other because of the altitude. It's a mile up and it's a level playing field. We'll all be faced with the same conditions."

The beginning of the second half of the season comes, as usual, with the schedule's Western Swing - stops at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., in successive weekends. It's sometimes daunting for teams that have been experiencing problems, but Toliver believes those that haunted him during much of the first half of the year are gone.

"We've been working hard to turn the performance around to make the car run consistent," Toliver said. "I think the hiring of Richard Hogan (three races ago as co-crew chief with Keith Adams) has been a step in the right direction. He brings a lot of experience to the team. So far his input has been very good and I think the car is beginning to show some improvement.

"We knew it wouldn't happen overnight, but I'm hoping by the time we get to Seattle and the middle of the Western Swing that we'll have something we can go out and race with."

Toliver won the season opener in Pomona, Calif., and was runner-up in Houston but had been plagued by tire shake. The changes recommended by Hogan have improved the performance and may give the team an opportunity to move up the standings. He's 10th with 547 points.

"We changed the center of gravity on the car to try and keep the tire spin down so the car wouldn't shake," Toliver noted. "It worked but, at the same time, it created another problem. The car wants to hike up the front end, and that's not good. But we've addressed that by putting more weight on. Shake has been the problem. Getting past the starting line Christmas tree has been a problem. If we can get the car to go consistently by the tree, we can solve the other problems."

The Temecula, Calif.-based driver does have two round wins in his three previous appearances here. He won a round in both 1999 and 2000 appearances and lost in the first round in 2001.

All-important qualifying is scheduled at 5 and 8 p.m. Friday and 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jerry Toliver