Phoenix: David Baca preview

BACA READY TO RUN A MILE FOR TOP FUEL WIN AT CHECKERS SHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS AT FIREBIRD RACEWAY CHANDLER, Ariz., Feb. 21, 2005 - Compared to NASCAR and IRL events, running a mile to win a race wouldn't appear to take much effort to...

BACA READY TO RUN A MILE FOR TOP FUEL WIN AT CHECKERS SHUCK'S KRAGEN NATIONALS AT FIREBIRD RACEWAY

CHANDLER, Ariz., Feb. 21, 2005 - Compared to NASCAR and IRL events, running a mile to win a race wouldn't appear to take much effort to the casual observer. Some athletes today are capable of running a mile without breaking a sweat.

But they aren't seeking the ultimate in one-mile race victories: A National Hot Rod Association national event victory.

David Baca will be one of the Top Fuel contenders gathering for the Checkers Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird Raceway, Feb. 25-27. He, like his rivals, wants to be standing atop the victory podium Sunday, clutching the winner's trophy.

To get there, he must win four rounds of racing Sunday against the sport's quickest competitors. Baca was a member of the quickest 16-car qualified field at the Winternationals, Feb. 13, at Pomona, Calif. His best of qualifying time of 4.502 seconds in the Baca Motorsports dragster put him eighth overall in a lineup that went from Tony Schumacher's 4.447 seconds at No. 1 to Andrew Cowin's 4.597 seconds at No. 16.

"I was surprised with the elapsed times at Pomona," said Baca, of Brentwood, Calif. "There were a lot of mid-4.40s times run -- in the 4.47 to 4.48 range -- and we felt we should've been there, too."

Baca's career best time of 4.487 seconds came at Pomona in November, and he and his co-tuners, Larry Meyer and his father Dennis, felt they could've been running in that time zone at the Winternationals. But a clutch problem -- coupled with Friday's qualifying session getting scrubbed by rain -- kept Baca from improving the 4.502-second effort that came in Thursday's opening qualifying round.

"I think we'll be able to go out and pick up where we left off," Baca said. "Losing that one session really hurt us because we had a serious clutch malfunction in Saturday's first run. Had we run Friday, it was likely the clutch would've done the same thing, but we would've had plenty of time to sort out the situation. As it was, we only had a few hours to find the solution. Larry made a guesstimate on the tune-up for our final run and we didn't improve."

Baca lost to Doug Herbert in the opening round and comes to the second of 23 POWERade Series events in a ninth-place tie with 33 points.

"The week off (between races) helped us," added Baca, owner of Allstate Contract Floors, a new home construction flooring business. "It gave the team a chance to get ready for Phoenix and it gave me a chance to go back to my desk, sit down and keep real life in focus.

"But I will be ready to go after my elusive first national event win. Our performance is only going to continue to pick up. We're only five or six-hundredths (of a second) behind the fast guys. Our goal is to qualify better this weekend and go that infamous mile on Sunday - one quarter-mile at a time."

-bms-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Tony Schumacher , Andrew Cowin , David Baca