Gainesville: Whit Bazemore final summary

BAZEMORE DRIVES TO SEMIS AT GAINESVILLE, MOVES TO THIRD IN TOP FUEL STANDINGS GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 18, 2007) -- Whit Bazemore advanced to the semifinals for the second consecutive race Sunday afternoon at Gainesville Raceway. The 20-time...

BAZEMORE DRIVES TO SEMIS AT GAINESVILLE, MOVES TO THIRD IN TOP FUEL STANDINGS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 18, 2007) -- Whit Bazemore advanced to the semifinals for the second consecutive race Sunday afternoon at Gainesville Raceway. The 20-time NHRA Funny Car winner moved to third place in the NHRA Top Fuel standings.

Bazemore started from the No. 4 position, the best of his brief Top Fuel career, after qualifying with a 4.542-second elapsed time. In the opening round of eliminations, the veteran nitro pilot bested Michael Gunderson, then second-year pro Hillary Will, before losing traction and falling to two-time champion Larry Dixon in the semifinals.

Facing off against the upstart Florida Top Fuel racer, the longtime Matco Tools driver used a slight jump at the start to score the wire-to-wire victory. Bazemore's rail dropped a cylinder, but still powered to a run of 4.694 seconds at 306.40 mph to easily defeat Gunderson, whose dragster lost traction early and slowed to a 13-second elapsed time.

Bazemore advanced to the semifinals for the second straight race by knocking off the Top Fuel starlet from Michigan. The drivers used nearly identical reaction times before the Matco Tools rail pulled away for the win. Bazemore blasted to a run of 4.609 at 317.42 to hold off Will's run of 4.710 seconds. It's the second straight race that Bazemore had defeated Will.

In the semifinals, the veteran drivers used solid reaction times, but the Matco Tools dragster lost traction early and slowed to a 9.117-second effort. Dixon's orange and white rail labored to a run of 5.165 seconds to advance to his first final round of the season.

"It wasn't a bad weekend," Bazemore said. "We struggled with our consistency in qualifying, but so did a lot of teams. It was a tricky track. I was disappointed that I didn't catch it quicker in the semis. But, we moved up in the standings and our teammate is still the point's leader. We're going to test tomorrow and hopefully make this Matco Tools team even stronger."

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 20th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals, March 30-April 1, at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas. Bazemore advanced to the final round at the Houston track in 1998. He qualified ninth at the Houston race last year.

-credit: dpm

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Whit Bazemore , Michael Gunderson , Hillary Will