The new rules package for Pro Stock had V. Gaines and his Kendall Oil Dodge team working very hard in the off-season to prepare for 2016, and like many others, Gaines and his team – led by crew chief Clyde West – have experienced frustration in the process. However, as Gaines has a massive 451 races under his belt in the NHRA Pro Stock division, he and his team are familiar with the dedication required in order to make progress.
“I think we’ve come a long way [in regard to learning the newly mandated Electronic Fuel Injection system],” said Gaines, who has four wins in the category. “We feel comfortable, but we also know that we have a lot to learn. Most of that is in the engine shop to find out what makes the fuel injection happy. That’s going to take some time, because you can only do one change at a time. And it takes a lot of money as you make different parts, then sometimes have to throw them in the scrap pile and keep going. It’s difficult; just because a part doesn’t work in a particular application, that doesn’t mean it won’t work with other changes. There is a lot of dyno time going on in all the shops.
“We’re all anxious to try the next thing and get the next result, but then you get the disappointment because things don’t work. Sometimes when things do work, that opens up a whole bunch of new questions. You come to a test session or a track with 10 questions – but you leave with 20 more.”
Gaines has qualified in the No. 14 position in each of the most recent four races – including the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. He and his team tested at zMAX Dragway ahead of the Charlotte event, but the test session was cut short due to weather.
“We got a little testing in, but we needed more,” he said.
In the first session of qualifying for the main event at zMAX Dragway, Gaines had a bit of trouble and slowed to a 7.433, 204.98, but the second session, he improved to a 6.671, 206.99 in his Kendall Oil Dodge Dart. Although there was no further improvement in the third qualifying round nor a win light on Sunday, Gaines maintained a dedicated stance paired with a jovial nature. Known for the big smile behind an ever-present cigar, the Colorado resident has his priorities in order.
“You know, we haven’t been No. 1 qualifier yet, and we would really like to do that one of these days,” said Gaines. “But life is good. I’ve got lots of grandkids, lots of joy, and lots of life.”