BAZEMORE SCORES SEMIFINAL FINISH AT U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car continue to make strides in performance, scoring a semfinal finish in today's prestigious...
BAZEMORE SCORES SEMIFINAL FINISH AT U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car continue to make strides in performance, scoring a semfinal finish in today's prestigious U.S. Nationals, the crown jewel of the POWERade Drag Racing Series and an event Bazemore has won twice.
Bazemore nipped his teammate Ron Capps in the first round of eliminations, winning on a holeshot advantage with a 4.924/315.64 to Capps' quicker yet losing 4.905/310.48. Reaction times: .048 for Bazemore, .083 for Capps.
The No. 8 qualifier then disposed of Phil Burkart Jr. with a 4.892/316.38, but met his match in the semifinal round against the Skoal Showdown winner Del Worsham. Without lane choice, Bazemore was first relegated to the left lane, but after an oildown in that lane in the Gary Scelzi/Frank Pedregon match-up, Worsham swapped lanes at the last minute.
Bazemore launched with a .096 reaction time, Worsham with a .082, but soon after Bazemore was up in smoke and out of contention, as Worsham claimed the win with a 4.893/314.09 to Bazemore's 7.068/126.65.
"We'll be very optimistic tomorrow," said a disappointed Bazemore. "Right now we're kind of shattered, because it's Indy.
"Yesterday we ran well the first qualifying run in the heat and we were on a good lap in the second round - quite possibly the low ET of the round - and we had a small, freak mechanical thing happen that happens on occasion and right then I felt like we could win this race.
"And this race is what marks your season. This is it. When you lose a race, normally you think, Well, there's the next race, but when it's Indy there's no next race, it's next year. So, it's very, very frustrating to lose here.
"There was a problem with the race track," he said of the semifinal round. "They did their best to clean it up. Our car was plenty safe as far as wheelspeed, so it's all conjecture at this point as to what really happened. I'm sure if we were going to make that run again right now with no oildown in front of us we'd run the car the same way and I'm sure that (co-crew chiefs) Dan (Olson) and Todd (Okuhara) would agree that the Matco Tools Dodge would go right down the race track."
On his first-round win against Capps: "That was good. The first round at Indy is the hardest round of the whole year because it's Indy. The last couple of races we've raced Capps he's possibly had a slight advantage on the starting line, so I really dug deep.
"It's the first round of Indy, you absolutely have to be at your very best and the light went our way. We were both pretty deep, but we knew we would have lane choice (in the next round) if our car went down the race track given what our second-round match-up would be (Phil Burkart Jr.'s 4.983-second ET in his first-round win).
"It's hard having teammates like this because they're so good and the teams are even and we're all working together as a team. While that's good in most cases, when you have to race them it's not very good because it can kind of mess with your head a little bit. Because you know what they have. We almost know what they're going to do and they know what we're going to do, almost. It puts a lot more pressure on the drivers, I think."
Bazemore is seventh in Funny Car points, 148 out of fifth place.
Next up is the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., Sept. 16-18, 2005.