Bazemore Squeezed Out Of No. 1 For The Second Race In A Row GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2004) - Whit Bazemore, who was low qualifier since yesterday evening, relinquished that spot to Tim Wilkerson in the final round of Funny Car qualifying for...
Bazemore Squeezed Out Of No. 1 For The Second Race In A Row
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2004) - Whit Bazemore, who was low qualifier since yesterday evening, relinquished that spot to Tim Wilkerson in the final round of Funny Car qualifying for the NHRA Gatornationals. Bazemore's strong 4.909/291.82 lap from Friday afternoon was eclipsed by Wilkerson's 4.906/300.00 as the pair met head-to-head in the final pass.
Bazemore managed to establish a decent 4.933/298.21 in that pass, but was nipped by Wilkerson for the No. 1 position and dropped to No. 2. At the last race, the CSK Nationals in Phoenix, Bazemore lost the No. 1 position to Gary Densham in the final qualifying pass.
"We went into the session being No. 1," said Bazemore. "Our intent is always to be No. 1. So, we are disappointed. But the fact is, the Matco Tools Dodge team has done a tremendous job so far this weekend dealing with what is really an unacceptably difficult track.
"For a new surface and this being the Gatornationals, the track condition is really challenging for all the teams. It's a combination of the new surface and the Goodyear tire that is supplied us. It makes it hard to go down any track when it's hot.
"Tim Wilkerson and those guys are a great up-and-coming team," he continued. "They have shown a lot of talent lately. They are certainly a team we've got to keep our eye on. We've got a great team over here ourselves, and we're in a good position tomorrow. The key is we've been consistent and we've been very close. We feel good going into race day."
Track conditions appear to be improving as more cars go down the track and add more rubber. "Actually, the track was better in the last run," said Bazemore's crew chief Lee Beard. "That was the best it was. We were just soft, we didn't give it enough. We were just a little bit too conservative and that was the difference between us being No. 2 and No. 1.
"The track is getting better. The concrete up to 600 feet seems to be getting pretty good, but the new asphalt on the rest of the track is still pretty green and it will take a year for it to cure out."
Bazemore will face Cory Lee in the first round of eliminations tomorrow, which begin at 11 a.m.