Memphis: David Baca eliminations summary

Baca edges closer to fifth in point standings Millington, Tenn. (September 22, 2003) -- Yesterday, after running five Top Fuel pair, the rains came to the NHRA O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals presented by Pennzoil. David Baca and Rhonda ...

Baca edges closer to fifth in point standings

Millington, Tenn. (September 22, 2003) -- Yesterday, after running five Top Fuel pair, the rains came to the NHRA O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals presented by Pennzoil. David Baca and Rhonda Hartman-Smith were the number six pair and had to endure an approximate five hour delay before NHRA officials pulled the plug and rescheduled the remaining eliminations for today.

With the sun trying to break through and the air temperature in the low 70s, the action resumed. David Baca, driver of the American Racing/Waterloo/Skill Clean Top Fuel dragster, who qualified No. 1, met Rhonda Hartman-Smith, the No. 16 qualifier, driver of the FRAM entry.

With a big starting line advantage going to Hartman-Smith at the green light, Baca found himself trying to make up the difference he gave away at the starting line. Hartman-Smith made Baca's job a lot easier when she lost traction around the 330-foot cone. Baca took the win light in 4.774 seconds and Hartman-Smith coasted through in 6.063 seconds. Darrell Russell was next up for Baca, the rookie driver from Brentwood, Calif.

Although the pair -- Baca and Russell -- ran the Memphis Motorsports Park quarter-mile in near identical elapsed times -- 4.695 for Baca and 4.671 for Russell -- Russell parlayed a better reaction time into a win light crossing the finish line .130 seconds ahead of Baca.

"Although the driver didn't do his part today, there were some positive things that came from today's eliminations," said Baca. "First and foremost we didn't lose any ground to Cory McClenathan, who's just ahead of us in the POWERade Top Fuel point standings. Secondly, we added to our learning curve today learning how to deal with and run with a lot of grains of water (moisture/humidity) in the air.

"The team, crew chief Johnny West and my partner Rick Henkelman did there usual fine job in giving me a car that was capable of getting the job done. We'll just take what we learned here in Memphis and move on to Chicago for the next race."

In the point battle, Baca edged closer to Cory McClenathan, fifth in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings. Baca now has 881 points, just 6 behind Cory Mac and 80 ahead of John Smith in seventh.

Once again, there is no time off between NHRA national events as Baca and the American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/ Skill Clean team move to Joliet, Ill., about 30-plus miles from Chicago, for the NHRA Carquest Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, September 25-28.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Rhonda Hartman-Smith , David Baca , Cory McClenathan , Cory Mac