Chuck Etchells Racing Dallas Preview

A DETERMINED BAZEMORE AIMS FOR THE BIG GUNS IN DALLAS Putnam, Connecticut, April 16, 1999 - Following the first four races of the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, many of the railbirds were already prepared to hand this year's Funny Car...

A DETERMINED BAZEMORE AIMS FOR THE BIG GUNS IN DALLAS

Putnam, Connecticut, April 16, 1999 - Following the first four races of the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, many of the railbirds were already prepared to hand this year's Funny Car title to John Force. In fact, several so-called experts have been heard to opine that the Fuel Coupe contingent was content to simply settle for third behind Force and his understudy, Tony Pedregon. Apparently, those involved had forgotten to check with the Kendall Motor Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team and driver Whit Bazemore. Although admitting that Force's armada currently has the upper hand, the Etchells Racing pilot sees the championship battle as far from over. Bazemore bristles at suggestions that they have abandoned the chase and is quick to point out the effort exerted by the Etchells team to put pressure on the points leader starting with this weekend's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.

"We've heard that some of our television commentators think that John Force can win every race this year," stated Bazemore. "Granted he has a huge advantage right now, but it's a long season. Anything can happen, and we are certainly not throwing in the towel by any means.

I still feel the best I ever have about our chances. I really like driving for this team, and believe I'm doing that better than I've ever have, in large part due to the high expectations of this Chuck Etchells Racing team. I know that Chuck is standing back there, a thirteen-time winner and one of the best drivers at getting one of these cars down the track. Then there's Tim Richards, who's won five championships, and his wife and our co-crew chief Kim Richards, who helped tune her dad to a title and is as much a hard-core racer as anyone. Every time out, I feel like I have to prove myself to them, and that has made me concentrate on doing my best on every run.

Besides, throughout my career, I've always been at my best when I was one shovel full of dirt away from being dead and buried. This Kendall Camaro team is going to fight back the best way we know how to prove those people wrong."

The Etchells team had remained in Houston after the last event to work on solving a problem, which caused their mount to drop cylinders. This represented their first test session since before the season began, and was the initial opportunity for the Tim and Kim Richards-led crew to work on their new combination without the pressure of competition. By all accounts the day was an unqualified success.

"We had a tremendous test in Houston last Monday," said Bazemore. "We tested to solve the problems we had in Houston, which were substantial, and we did. Having made only twelve passes with the new set-up, we needed all the information we could get. To save on parts we didn't do full runs, but I believe we had our quickest half-track numbers ever for both the team and myself. Calculated out for the quarter-mile those runs would be in the high 4.70s or low 4.80's. We'll need that if we're to keep up not only with Force's team, but that Interstate Batteries car as well."

The challenge will start in qualifying on Friday at the Texas Motorplex, a singular facility located just south of Dallas. The all-concrete racing surface is unique among the tracks on the NHRA tour, offering tremendous traction. But the potential for great speeds will remain unfulfilled unless the crew chief adjusts the car to transfer just the right amount of power to the ground. For his part, the driver will be responsible for staying in the "groove", the portion of the racetrack with the most speed-generating rubber on it, which is extremely narrow on this Lone Star strip. Even so, Bazemore and team remain quietly confident.

'I love the Texas Motorplex," explained Bazemore. It's our original speed track, and a tremendous facility. It's the site of the first four-second run in Top Fuel. I've done well there in the past, and it's a place I like going to. But it can get tricky it it's hot like it was in Houston. After our test session, it's not impossible for us to do very well there. Unless we have some real bad luck or mechanical problems, or just lose our combination, I expect the Kendall/Superwinch Camaro Z28 to be right there all weekend."

BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's 10th appearance at the Texas Motorplex, where he looks to improve upon his semi-final finish from last October....Bazemore is looking for his first win as driver of the Kendall Camaro.....Bazemore's best qualifying performance at this event is 6th, which he has accomplished three times..

Fast Facts

WHAT: 3rd annual Castrol Nationals, the fifth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: April 22-25, 1999

WHERE: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, Texas

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, April 23 at 1:30 & 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, April 24 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 25.

TV: Fox Sports will provide two hours of final eliminations highlights on Sunday, April 25 from 6-8 p.m. (Local time) In addition, Speedvision will have one hour of qualifying highlights on Saturday, April 24 from 8-9 p.m., two hours of coverage of the first round of eliminations on Sunday April 25 from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. and two hours of final round coverage on Monday, April 26 from 9-11 p.m. (All times Eastern) As always, please check your local listings

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Tim Richards