BAZEMORE HAS NEW CREW CHIEFS IN ENGLISHTOWN ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 15, 2005) - Whit Bazemore will not have his long-time crew chief Lee Beard tuning his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car this weekend at the K&N Filters...
BAZEMORE HAS NEW CREW CHIEFS IN ENGLISHTOWN
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 15, 2005) - Whit Bazemore will not have his long-time crew chief Lee Beard tuning his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car this weekend at the K&N Filters SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J. Beard will continue to be a valued member of the Don Schumacher Racing organization, according to team owner Don Schumacher, as Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara take over as co-crew chiefs.
Olson was co-crew chief on the DSR Brut Dodge Funny Car driven by Ron Capps, while Okuhara came over to DSR this week from Don Prudhomme's Funny Car team.
Bazemore has won twice this season and led the Funny Car points through three events. However, the team has struggled through the last five races and Bazemore is now seventh in the rankings.
"Lee Beard is a very good friend of mine, not just an employee, as are all of my employees," said Schumacher this week. "However, both Lee and I agreed that, after four first-round losses and a DNQ, it was best to take a look at the situation through a different set of eyes.
"Beard is an extremely valuable asset to our organization and he will continue to contribute to the success of our teams at Don Schumacher Racing."
"It's going to be really different racing without Lee Beard as my number-one guy," said Bazemore, winner at Englishtown in 2003. "It's been five years that we were together. We had a lot of really great successes. He made me very, very confident in the race cr. He made me very relaxed, and it's definitely going to be different. I really don't know what to expect, quite honestly.
"It's not going to affect my confidence," he added. "There's no question that we've been struggling as of late. Racing is a very big business and our team is very results-driven and our sponsors - Matco Tools, Dodge and Oakley, to be specific - are very results-oriented. We haven't had the results lately and the pressure was on to get those results.
"It's very important that as a team we rebound and we continue to try to get our Matco Tools Dodge going down the race track competitively again. Don's taken the steps he feels are necessary to do that, to give me a competitive car. I'm very, very confident in Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara, whom I don't really know that well, but I'm looking forward to working with him.
"I'm excited by the challenge. It's certainly going to be a lot different for me not working with Lee. We have a job to do and for me at the end of the day it's the same. My job is to drive the car as perfectly as I can and not make any mistakes - that's always the challenge - and then to work with the team the best I can to get the car as competitive as we can get it."
WHIT BAZEMORE QUICK FACTS:
* Two-time U.S. Nationals champion, 1997 and 2001
* Seventh in 2005 Funny Car point standings after 10 events, 205 points out of lead
* Won two events this year (Gainesville, Las Vegas), No. 1 qualifier once (Columbus)
* Qualified No. 9 at 2004 K&N Filers SuperNationals, lost first round to Del Worsham
* Won here in 2003
* Qualified in the top two in nine events in 2004, four times in No. 1
* No. 6 in 2004 Funny Car points, with two wins, five final rounds
* First Funny Car driver to break 325-mph barrier (U.S. Nationals 2001)
* Career quickest ET is 4.713 seconds, career fastest speed is 333.25 mph, both set at Route 66 Raceway in 2004 in what was at the time the quickest and fastest speed in Funny Car history
* Won three times in 2003, runner-up five times
* Has 19 career Funny Car event wins in 303 races
* Took the 2003 championship chase to penultimate race in Las Vegas in an exciting final round against eventual champion Tony Pedregon
* Was second twice in the Funny Car championship in 2001 and 2003, third in 1997 and '99 and has finished in the top five six times and 12 times in the top 10 since 1992
* Age 42, born in New York City, an avid cyclist, lives in Indianapolis with wife Michelle, a competitive amateur cyclist, and son Dashiell Aidan, born March 12, 2005
* 2005 is his fifth season with Don Schumacher Racing