Bazemore says record runs not likely in E'town ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 16, 2004) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader and defending event champion Whit Bazemore doesn't think that his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus or...
Bazemore says record runs not likely in E'town
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 16, 2004) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader and defending event champion Whit Bazemore doesn't think that his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus or any other Funny Car will break records this weekend at the K&N Filters Supernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Bazemore, who established the national elapsed-time record of 4.713 seconds at Route 66 Raceway last month at the same time he was rocketing down the quarter-mile at the fastest speed ever for a Funny Car, 333.25 mph, says the date change to a month later from last year will definitely affect performance at a track where records were broken in every pro class in 2003, except Pro Stock Bike.
"I think the forecast is for heat this weekend," said Bazemore, who qualified fifth here last year and defeated Ron Capps for his first victory of the 2003 season. "This time of year at Englishtown it can be either fairly hot or maybe you could get a day or weekend with a cold spell, but right now it doesn't look like that's likely. It's kind of unfortunate because if it were cool, this is really the last chance we have until next fall for record-setting performances.
"It's all right," he added. "We have a good hot-weather setup and we have to try to get back on track after our second-round loss last weekend." Bazemore has reached the final round in five of the last seven races, won two, but exited early last week in Columbus, Ohio. He has also qualified in the top two in seven of the 10 events so far.
Bazemore is now 21 points ahead of last week's winner Del Worsham and 83 ahead of his longtime nemesis John Force. Capturing his first Funny Car championship after two runner-up finishes in his 15-year career is the goal, but the season is not quite half over. "It's way too early to even think about the championship," he said. "Right now the idea is to go out and just try to be as perfect as we can, do the best possible job that we can and let the results come to us and hopefully we're in the semis or the final or the winner's circle.
"You have to minimize mistakes and you have to optimize the performance of the car and the Matco Tools team has done a perfect job so far this year, especially the last couple of months. We're very, very competitive. So we feel very good.
"But the competition is awfully tough, as it usually is. Force still has the team to beat and Worsham looks strong, so we're right there with them. And we have to make sure that we stay with them and we beat them when we need to."
The Indianapolis resident who was born in New York City still pinches himself at times when he sees how his career has escalated since his early days struggling as a penny-pinching team owner. "You work your entire career to have opportunities like what we have right now with Schumacher Racing, Matco Tools and Dodge and the team that we've put together," he said. "It's really fantastic. We have huge opportunities this year. I can remember when I wondered how people ever get into the position that we're in now. To be here feels good and we just have to keep going, stay focused, and try to do the most perfect job that we can do."
Pro qualifying sessions begin on Friday, June 18, at 3:30 p.m. and continue at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, June 19, the pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 20.
On Saturday, June 19, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, June 20, ESPN will televise two hours of eliminations at 5 p.m. (ET). Also on Sunday, June 20, ESPN2 will televise NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute magazine show at 11:30 a.m. (ET).