Phoenix: Jerry Toliver preview

TOLIVER SEEKING FIRST VICTORY IN PHOENIX TEMECULA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2008) -- One year ago Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver was sitting on the sidelines preparing his team to compete in what was left of the 2007...

TOLIVER SEEKING FIRST VICTORY IN PHOENIX

TEMECULA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2008) -- One year ago Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver was sitting on the sidelines preparing his team to compete in what was left of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. This year Toliver enters this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway No. 10 in the point standings following one national event, with a very quick race car.

What a difference a year makes. Tolliver is now in his first full season of NHRA competition since 2004, after joining Don Schumacher Racing in 2008.

"Any time you walk away from a race in the top 10 is an achievement," said Toliver, who posted the quickest Funny Car elapsed time of the weekend, 4.790 seconds, at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif. "You can't set your sights too high and you can't win them all and, unfortunately, we had a parts failure in the clutch department that took us out in the first round.

"We had a great race car in Pomona and I was very excited that we ran such a great number during qualifying and it just shows that we've got a good group of guys here. Crew chief Phil Shuler and his team really know what they're doing and I'm looking for big things to come. I'm really excited."

While Toliver's final qualifying pass in Pomona was the quickest for the Funny Car class, Tim Wilkerson posted an identical elapsed time and claimed the No. 1 spot because of speed (325.22 mph to 320.51 mph).

The California native has yet to win a race on Firebird's famous quarter-mile, but he's competed in match races at the facility and recently tested there at the pre-season National Time Trials in January.

"I enjoy every race, and Phoenix is just another stop on our tour," said Toliver, who has five national-event wins to his credit. "I licensed in Phoenix back in 1996. It's a great place and it's got great fans and I'm looking forward to it. I've never won there, but I'd love to go and put another 'W' in the win column and walk out of there in the top five.

"You really can't take the information that you had in testing and apply it to the race track," he said, referring to the recent Time Trials. "We can go back and take a look at some of the things we learned, but it will be a differently-prepared race track and I look for it to be extremely competitive out there.

"I feel more comfortable every time I go down the race track in the Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge. I'm getting used to the nuances and that's just part of the learning curve. Every time I make a lap in the car I become that much more comfortable."

The last time Toliver competed in an NHRA national event at Firebird was in 2004 where he failed to qualify.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Don Schumacher