BAZEMORE ADVANCES TO QUARTERFINAL IN HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas (April 10, 2005) - Funny Car points leader Whit Bazemore struggled to qualify for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, earning only the 12th spot after four attempts, but...
BAZEMORE ADVANCES TO QUARTERFINAL IN HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 10, 2005) - Funny Car points leader Whit Bazemore struggled to qualify for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, earning only the 12th spot after four attempts, but the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car team made up for it in the first round of eliminations by defeating Don Schumacher Racing teammate and No. 5 qualifier Gary Scelzi on a holeshot advantage.
Bazemore crossed the finish stripe ahead of Scelzi with a 4.842/317.34 pass to Scelzi's quicker but losing 4.795/323.19. Reaction times: Scelzi .114, Bazemore .064.
The second round against Bazemore's longtime rival and second-in-points John Force was vital for Bazemore to win to hold on to the points lead. It was not to be, despite Bazemore's better reaction time of .059 to Force's .076, as Force drove around him to claim the victory with a 4.781/324.83 to Bazemore's 4.818/321.12.
Bazemore dropped to second in Funny Car points, 14 behind Force.
"(Crew chief Lee) Beard and the boys did a tremendous job today to turn this Matco Tools team around from what we admit was a pretty frustrating qualifying effort Friday and Saturday," said Bazemore, "and the car just didn't respond to anything we did in qualifying. Lee made some major, major changes overnight and we had to run our teammate Gary Scelzi in the first round.
"We were fortunate to get around him. The tune-up proved itself and Lee had a car he could tune against Force (in the second round). We tuned it up, it ran better, but we don't have our new tune-up perfected yet, and we may have left a little on the table. But Force's team did a tremendous job and beat us. That's how it goes.
"I did my normal thing," said Bazemore of his deep-staging in the first round against Scelzi, while Scelzi shallow-staged going for a quicker ET and lane choice in the second round. "I go in two or three hundredths on race day. That's just the way it is. It's Funny Car racing and you kind of have to do that.
"The reaction time number is often irrelevant because of staging, but my goal is to be the same every race and I roll in typically two or three hundredths (of a second) deeper than our qualifying runs, but it's not five or six hundredths, like some guys, so it doesn't even matter. I don't even think about. I just go in and do my thing and we won a round today when our car hadn't gone down the track on Saturday and half of Friday. It could have been worse."
Next up is the NHRA Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas April 14-17.