FUNNY CAR: SEVEN CAMAROS QUALIFY IN FUNNY CAR FOR FIRST TIME WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, leads a caravan of Camaros that qualified in the Funny Car category, with his 4.872-second pass at 308.00 mph, good for second ...
FUNNY CAR: SEVEN CAMAROS QUALIFY IN FUNNY CAR FOR FIRST TIME
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, leads a caravan of Camaros that qualified in the Funny Car category, with his 4.872-second pass at 308.00 mph, good for second place. Although No. 1 qualifier John Force's elapsed time in the final session was identical to Whit's, 4.872, Force's top speed of 319.71 mph puts him atop the qualifying roster. JERRY TOLIVER, driving both the WWF RACING CAMARO Z28 and the Pontiac Firebird in qualifying, is No. 4 with a 4.887/311.52, set in the Camaro. JIM EPLER, in the other WWF RACING CAMARO Z28, is No. 5, 4.906/298.70. TODD PATON, sporting his new Camaro body on his NITRO-FISH entry, is No. 9, 4.967/295.85, while RON CAPPS, in the U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, is in 12th, 4.997/300.30. BOB GILBERTSON, also debuting his new Camaro body, is No. 14, 5.018/303.64; and SCOTTY CANNON, in the 'MAD SCIENCE MEETS NITRO' CAMARO Z28, is No. 15, 5.032/306.85.
Whit was No. 1 until this final round, recording his quickest elapsed time in a side-by-side run with Jerry Toliver's Camaro in today's first session. In the final Whit got out of the groove and hazed the tires (5.491/185.75).
This is the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history (4.872 to 5.050).
BAZEMORE: ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED WITH BEING NO. 2? "Yes, because it was important that we were not second. We went for No. 1 and we came up a little short. They (Force's team) had a better car today. Actually, qualifying was a hell of a show. I felt like it was the final of Indy in that last round. That's how much we wanted it. With the effort this team made the last couple of weeks they deserve it (to be No. 1). It's been two or three times this year that we have come up a little short to Force in qualifying, by a thousandth of a second or so. This time it was tied. So, it's a little frustrating. But it works out better. We're on the better side of the ladder. We will look at tomorrow and forget about today. Our Camaro was really consistent and it ran well. The hunger is here and the ability is here. We just have to get the job done on Sunday. I was surprised they only ran an .87. I think we expected them to run a little quicker than that. It just didn't happen for us, but it will. Last year's chassis seems to really work better and I am really happy with that. I think we are making strides here."
TOLIVER: "I Think Dale's (Armstrong, crew chief) is going to run the Pontiac first round tomorrow. The reason for that is because the front end came up in the last run (in the Camaro). The Pontiac has more downforce in the front. I think that's what he'll do in the first round, to be safe. We proved earlier the Camaro is a faster car; we didn't need the downforce the Pontiac gave us. But he's a little nervous about what happened in the last round. Something happened in the clutch department -- he's not pleased. We didn't get the power to the ground, so, honestly, I think we will run the Firebird."
CAPPS: "It's not like it's been hard to drive. The tune-up has been off. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) has been chasing something since we got here. It's weekends like this when you are really thrown into a whirlwind of adversity that makes this sport so interesting. You don't know what the problem is and you have to do something before the next run. And that just shows you how gritty this whole team is. They really buckled down; they pulled out a 10th almost every run. I just looked at the ladder tomorrow and it's stout. (Jim) Epler is on our side, (Jerry) Toliver is on our side, and so is (John) Force. We will have to go out in the first round and do what we know to do on Sunday. We have been off all weekend. Ace has been fighting some problems. It looks like he's found it; it's just a matter of fine-tuning it now."
PRO STOCK; KURT JOHNSON HOLDS ON TO NO. 1 POSITION; HAMMONDS DNQs
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, held on to No. 1 position, with his 6.976-second elapsed time at 198.28 mph. , posted in today's first session. In the final session, Kurt slowed to a 7.005/197.84.
KURT: "We felt pretty good. In the last run everybody caught up a little bit. We made a good run with the 7 flat. We were kind of confident that we had something. This category changes so fast; people make gains and bounce back. It's tough out there. We are still learning about this race car (last year's chassis). It seems to be pretty happy right now. Instead of screwing up and changing something we will leave it. This is the Camaro that we were winning with in the beginning of last year." NOW THAT YOU'RE DOING BETTER, DO YOU THINK YOU'LL HAVE A GOOD CHANCE OF GETTING BACK IN THIS SHOW? "Sure, if we go out there tomorrow and start going rounds and get back in the groove. I haven't forgotten how to do this. It's just a matter of going down the track and getting my foot off the clutch. We have been working back in the shop getting power; power is not a problem. It's just making good, consistent runs. We know how to win; we just have to do it."
TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/GM PERFORMANCE PARTS CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify for the second straight event, 7.094/194.72. His elapsed times have consistently improved.
HAMMONDS: "We're still fighting the front half of the track. The car is not performing compared to everybody else's cars. It's not performing at 60 feet. Until we get that done we will never be fast. We still have a lot of testing that we've got to do before we can make this Camaro fast and really find out what the car wants. We plan on testing Wednesday in St. Louis. But, to be honest, we just have to get working on it. We can't get discouraged. We've still got a lot more races to go. This Camaro has never really run the front half of the track very well, even since the first time it was produced,, in '98. And I know Donnie (Gardner), Nick (Ferri) and Tim (Roberts) are dedicated. It will just be a matter of time before everything is figured out and we will run fast. I just hope it's sooner than later."