TOLIVER SEEKS TO GET BACK IN THE HUNT IN TOPEKA TEMECULA, Calif. (May 28, 2008) -- With one third of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season completed, Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver is more than...
TOLIVER SEEKS TO GET BACK IN THE HUNT IN TOPEKA
TEMECULA, Calif. (May 28, 2008) -- With one third of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season completed, Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver is more than ready to start winning rounds and accumulating points so he can take part in the Countdown to the Championship. The 2008 playoffs begin after the top 10 in the standings are established at the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
The newest member of the four-car Funny Car team at Don Schumacher Racing is 17th in the Funny Car rankings, just 105 points out of the top 10, and is aiming to get back in the hunt this weekend at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
"I'm extremely frustrated with our results so far," said Toliver, who has yet to advance to the quarterfinal round. "Like I've said before, it's not from lack of effort. Everybody on the Rockstar Energy Drink team is working his ass off trying to get this Funny Car turned around. We're testing every chance we get and we're going to get it. It's just taking longer than we expected."
Toliver is not alone in his struggles. In only eight events, there have been seven different winners and nine top contenders have failed to qualify at least once. Melanie Troxel, winner of the last event in Bristol, Tenn., failed to qualify four times and had not won a round until Bristol.
"This has been a strange year for the Funny Car class," said Toliver. "You look across the board and we've only had one repeat winner and we've had cars that haven't won a round that have gone to the final round or won the race. It's a matter of the luck of the draw and qualifying better.
"Qualifying in the top half of the field is extremely important and that's one thing we've got to cure. When that happens I think everything will fall into place. Hopefully, in Topeka is where it will happen.
"We started off the season with a bang," said Toliver, who missed the pole at the season-opener in Pomona (Calif.) because of speed. "We qualified No. 2 and set low elapsed time and I thought, Wow, this is going to be something. And then we got bit first round.
"Our performances this year in the first round could have waltzed us into the final round on a couple of occasions," said Toliver, "but we've got to get by the first round. It's a very tough class, without a doubt. And therefore it's the most exciting for the fans.
"Heartland Park is a great facility," he added. "It has a very flat surface and it was one of the faster race tracks prior to some of the newer super tracks. As always, we have great fans who show up in droves. I look forward to going in and qualifying in the top half of the field and starting to go some rounds."