After not completing a full-power pass on Friday, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing team came into Saturday's final qualifying sessions needing to make a solid run in order to simply qualify for the Matco...
After not completing a full-power pass on Friday, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing team came into Saturday's final qualifying sessions needing to make a solid run in order to simply qualify for the Matco Tools SuperNationals. Bazemore started with a 5.134-second pass in the morning time trial, which, although it temporarily placed him in the field, left him in the precarious 16th and final position. The Etchells crew knew that improvement would be necessary in order to guarantee their participation in Sunday's final eliminations. In fact, by the time Bazemore came to the line for his final attempt, his time has been eclipsed by another competitor, forcing him to race his way back into the top sixteen.
As they have several times this season, the Etchells crew responded, with Bazemore recording the fourth-quickest elapsed time of the session while posting the fastest top speed of the weekend to date. His 4.919-second, 313.00-mph blast placed Bazemore 5th on the final eliminations ladder, and set up an interesting first round match-up, as Bazemore will be facing No. 12 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr., who will be succeeding Bazemore in the Etchells fuel coupe in 2001.
"When you go into the last session and you're not in the show, you're probably are a little more focused, because you know you can't make a mistake and therefore have to be ready to pedal it. We were a little concerned, but we knew that if we could repeat the run from this morning and keep the Kendall/Matco Camaro hooked up after 400 feet, that it would be pretty strong. Fortunately, Terry (crew chief Manzer) made the right call, and we went 4.91.
"We face Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round tomorrow, who will be taking over the Kendall/Matco Camaro next season. I know they will have a good team over here, with TJ adding a lot to it. He's a good driver, and I always look forward to racing him. But tomorrow, I fully expect us to win, but to do so, we're going to have to be on our game."