DENVER, Colo., July 21, 2001 - After two days and four qualifying sessions, the professional fields are set for tomorrow's 22nd annual Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. The Pro Stock category saw very few changes in the ladder during today's time trials. Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am driver Bruce Allen held on to capture his third No. 1 qualifier of the season with last night's run of 7.273 seconds at 188.91 mph. Allen had the fourth quickest pass of the first session today and was second quickest in the final qualifying round giving him added confidence going into raceday on Sunday. It is the ninth time this season that a Grand Am has taken the top qualifying position in the Pro Stock category.
Jim Yates remains in the No. 2 position in the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac and Warren Johnson will start third in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Grand Am. Darrel Alderman is qualified fourth in a Dodge Neon and Kurt Johnson is fifth in a Chevy Cavalier.
Whit Bazemore's Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird turned in a track-record qualifying pass of 4.951 seconds at 304.74 mph to move to the head of the Funny Car class. It is the second consecutive race that the 38-year-old Indianapolis resident, and defending Mile-High Nationals champion has started raceday from the No. 1 qualifying spot. Bazemore, a two-time winner at Bandimere Speedway, is currently fourth in the points standings and looking for his first victory of the season.
Tony Pedregon moved up to the No. 2 qualifying position, Bruce Sarver is qualified third in a Firebird, Scotty Cannon improved in the final session to fourth in a Firebird and Tommy Johnson Jr. is fifth in a Camaro.
Whit Bazemore (Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird) - "At a racetrack where downforce is crucial, the Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird was hooked up all the way downtrack. It's just a tremendous job by the team. To come up here and take the No. 1 qualifying spot like we did says a lot about our guys. Lee (Beard) was a little concerned coming in here because this race is so hard to run and he didn't have any data to fall back on. He told me to be patient and that we'd find our way here. He did a tremendous job. Qualifying is all about the team and the car, and maybe when it comes down to thousandths of a second like it did, then maybe the driver does have something to do with it. Any kind of wasted motion going down the track can use up a thousandth or two. But the guys gave me a perfect car and it went straight as an arrow. The sun was going in so we knew the track would take a good number. Right as I was putting my helmet on the sun came out. Mike Neff told me not to worry about it and he was right. Who would have thought this year that so many cars would have run in the 'fours?' A 4.95 at 5800 feet is unbelievable. We have a lot of well-funded cars, a lot of guys that are running really well, and as well as everyone has run this year, we come here and naturally everyone's that much better than they were last year. In the past there was Force, and maybe three or four other competitive cars, and the rest of the field. This year there is so much depth in the field that we're all taking points from each other and that just gives him a bigger lead. We've lost races this year that I feel we should have won, and Force has won some races that he probably should've lost. In order to catch him that scenario has to be reversed.
"I feel really confident with this team - we've really gelled together, and in the last month it's been especially good. It's a whole new team and a whole new situation. There's always a break-in period where you have to prove yourself to them, where they have to realize your strengths and weaknesses and I have to know theirs. We've had that. When you look at the teams that have been successful it's the ones that have been together the longest. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long-term relationship with a lot of stability, and ultimately that's the most important ingredient in