MORRISON, Colo. – After the kind of slump V Gaines has been in lately on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, heading home might be the best solution.
That is what Gaines, a prominent businessman in the Denver area, is banking on as the Pro Stock standout starts the three-week NHRA Western Swing with the 35th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, July 18-20. He has finished as the runner-up the past two years at his home track, losing both times to Allen Johnson.
But that kind of success would serve as a major boost for Gaines and his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger after a particularly rough five-race stretch. Gaines lost four straight first-round matchups and then didn’t qualify for the most recent race in Norwalk, adding even more salt to the wound. Some important testing at his home track and some valuable down time to find the solution has Gaines confident those problems are behind him.
“We’ve known for the past month what the problem is but we’ve just been unable to find the right solution,” Gaines said. “We’ve been kind of chasing it until we were able to round up the right parts. We’ve been doing quite a bit of testing and I think we’ve got it working. So after testing we know it works up here in Denver. The question is if it will work the next week in Sonoma.”
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Shawn Gann (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of the 2013 event. It is the 14th of 24 races during the 2014 season and Gaines says a swift turnaround is needed if he wants to stay in the top 10 and qualify for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Falling out of the top 10 didn’t even seem to be a consideration for Gaines, who is currently ninth in points, after a strong start to his 2014 season. He went to back-to-back finals at the first two races of the season, briefly taking the points lead, and was in second after a semifinal finish in Gainesville.