Great light by Kalitta ruins Baca's upset bid
Brainerd, Sunday: Top Fuel driver David Baca asked his Mach 1 Air Services race team to give him a racecar that could run against POWERade points leader Doug Kalitta, his opening round opponent at Sunday's 25th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. They delivered, but the frustrated professional from Brentwood, Calif., still lost the race on a terrific holeshot by Kalitta.
Crew chief Rick Henkelman tuned the 8,000-horsepower Mach 1 dragster to a stout 4.582-second pass at 322.58 mph in the first race of the day, which finally took place after a three-hour rain delay. It was the team's best pass of the race. Kalitta could only muster up a 4.599 at 322.73 mph in his dragster. But a .060- to .098-second reaction time advantage by Kalitta allowed him to steal the win by two-hundredths of a second.
"As if I'm not hard enough on myself," Baca lamented. "I can't believe I let the team down like this. The guys gave me a great racecar and I lost it on the starting line. We win and lose as a team but I have to tell you, this one hurts on a personal level."
The good news is that Baca didn't lose any ground in his quest to get into the POWERade top 10 as the two drivers directly ahead of him -- Hillary Will and Cory McClenathan -- also suffered first-round losses here. Baca remains in 11th place, 44 points behind 10th-ranked McClenathan.
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