Bazemore shakes down Matco Tools Dodge in Vegas, heads to Phoenix LAS VEGAS (Feb. 3, 2004) - Whit Bazemore and the Don Schumacher Racing team spent four productive days (Jan. 29-Feb. 1) at The Strip at Las Vegas completing an initial shakedown...
Bazemore shakes down Matco Tools Dodge in Vegas, heads to Phoenix
LAS VEGAS (Feb. 3, 2004) - Whit Bazemore and the Don Schumacher Racing team spent four productive days (Jan. 29-Feb. 1) at The Strip at Las Vegas completing an initial shakedown of a fresh engine combination and a new chassis on his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car.
Led by crew chief Lee Beard, the team planned to continue testing at The Strip on Monday, Feb. 2, but cold weather aborted any further plans and the team is heading to Firebird International Raceway (Chandler, Ariz.) for the second NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series pre-season test session on Feb. 6-8.
With temperatures in Las Vegas hovering for most of the four days around 48 degrees to the mid 50s, and a high of only 63 degrees on Saturday, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion made a number of short squirts and half-track passes the first two days. Still in test mode, he posted his best full pass of 4.861/318.62 on Saturday.
"We were testing a brand new engine combination that we hadn't run before," said Bazemore, 2003 Funny Car championship runner-up. "We made a lot of progress. And it was well worth the effort, but the conditions were difficult. The track was outstanding and it was cold and it made for a lot of horsepower. Our new engine combination produces a lot of horsepower as it is, so we had to learn how to harness that and try to get the car down the track consistently.
"In the end we wanted to stay and do more on Monday, but the conditions just wouldn't allow us. It was in the low 40s in the morning and It just wouldn't have been beneficial. We'll go to Phoenix and continue where we left off and try to make the Matco Tools Dodge be able to go down the track consistently, and once we can do that then we'll try to maximize our performance.
"Testing is a learning process and we are discovering what this new combination requires," he added. "Plus the conditions in Las Vegas were exceptional. Historically, we've done the best in cool weather, but I would call the conditions in Vegas cold."
With the lower altitude in Chandler, Ariz. (by 1000 feet compared to Las Vegas), and the warmer weather expected this weekend in the Phoenix area, the Matco Tools team will have the chance to continue testing under even different conditions. "The objective for this coming weekend is to get a better handle on this tune-up and try to get the car to go down the track consistently," said the Indianapolis resident. "Once we have a car that goes down the race track without fail, it'll be really easy to make it competitive.
"It's important to remember that this is just testing; and for our team, testing means figuring out our new engine combination. Let me tell you, it is vastly different from what we've run in the past couple of years. I'm excited because Lee and the guys have quickly shown their ability to be ultra competitive after only four days. We know some other teams are simply refining their existing setups. Needless to say, we're quietly confident of our potential."