BAZEMORE DRIVES MATCO TOOLS RAIL TO QUARTERFINAL EFFORT AT HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2007) -- Entering the 20th running of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals with mixed emotions, Whit Bazemore, behind the wheel of his David Powers-owned Matco...
BAZEMORE DRIVES MATCO TOOLS RAIL TO QUARTERFINAL EFFORT AT HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2007) -- Entering the 20th running of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals with mixed emotions, Whit Bazemore, behind the wheel of his David Powers-owned Matco Tools dragster, joined an elite drag racing club during qualifying before racing to a quarterfinal finish Sunday at Houston Raceway Park.
After carding his 30th career pole, becoming just the 15th driver in NHRA history to qualify No. 1 in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Bazemore knocked off 29-time NHRA Top Fuel winner Cory McClenathan before losing traction and falling to Joe Hartley in the second round. Bazemore now sits fourth in the NHRA Top Fuel standings, trailing teammate Rod Fuller by 47 points.
In the opening round of eliminations, which came following a three-hour rain delay, Bazemore was pitted against McClenathan for the second time this season. He defeated the longtime Top Fuel racer in the first round at the season-opening Winternationals. The veteran nitro pilots both used solid reaction times as Bazemore used a Lee Beard tune-up to blast to a run of 4.559 seconds at 320.05 mph to knock off Cory Mac's traction-losing run of 5.719-seconds. Bazemore's recorded the third quickest elapsed time of the round.
With just a 65-minute turnaround between rounds, the Matco Tools crew did a superb job getting Bazemore to the starting line to face the part-time racer from Oregon. The 20-time NHRA winner got the slight jump at the start, but the Matco Tools dragster lost traction early and slowed to a run of 6.621 seconds at 133.68 mph. Hartley drove his red dragster to a solid pass of 4.894-seconds to earn the trip to the semifinals. Bazemore remains the only Top Fuel driver to have not lost in the opening round of eliminations this season.
"It was a tough weekend," Bazemore said. "There's a new way to lose all the time. The car shook and I pedaled it. The car shook and the helmet moved on my head, so essentially I couldn't see. So, I'm taking the helmet home and we're going to get it fixed. I've never had that happen before. It would have been hard to beat him anyway.
"We have a great race car and a great team, it's just a matter of being patient and to keep doing what we're doing. If we do that, the wins will come our way. We're still in the top of the points race and our teammate (Rod Fuller) is number one, so we have two really strong cars."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the eighth annual Summitracing.com Nationals, April 12-15, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bazemore qualified 10th last April at The Strip at LVMS en route to a semifinal finish. The veteran nitro pilot has one victory (2005) in five career final-round appearances at The Strip.