BAZEMORE MAKES PROGRESS, ROOTS FOR TEAMMATES AS FUNNY CAR SEASON WINDS DOWN LAS VEGAS (Oct. 18, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team are virtually out of the running for the 2005 POWERade Drag ...
BAZEMORE MAKES PROGRESS, ROOTS FOR TEAMMATES AS FUNNY CAR SEASON WINDS DOWN
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 18, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team are virtually out of the running for the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship, which puts them in a unique position to help root for their teammates Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps, who are knee-deep in the title chase, coming into this weekend's ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Two-time 2005 winner - including the first event at Las Vegas in April - and early points leader Bazemore, who has been in several close championship hunts of his own over the years, has come out of a mid-season slump this season following four semifinal finishes in the last eight races.
With a 267-point deficit to points leader John Force and two races left, Bazemore is still technically in the chase, in seventh, as a total of 138 points are available at each event (which includes qualifying No. 1, winning the race and setting a national elapsed-time record).
The two-time U.S. Nationals champion, however, is realistic about his chances of earning the maximum number of points at the last two events, as well as the near impossibility of Force, Capps, Robert Hight, Eric Medlen and Tommy Johnson Jr. in front of him not qualifying at these final races.
Instead, he's encouraged by the progress the team has made in a difficult season, is aiming for a top-five finish, and will support his teammates to the end while looking ahead to 2006.
"We've been in a position of increasing our competitiveness and re-establishing our competitiveness, so to speak," said Bazemore. "Vegas is one of our favorite tracks. We won here earlier this season, and we're representing the City of Las Vegas with the Matco Tools/Las Vegas Centennial 2005 Dodge Stratus Funny Car we're running here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the city. That's exciting.
"The other thing that is exciting is being in a position to watch my teammates compete for a championship and hopefully be able to beat John Force," he added. "I've been with Schumacher for five years now and this year has been far an away the best opportunity we've ever had as a team to win a championship.
"It's even better than in 2003 when we were runner-up to Pedregon," he said, recalling the emotional loss he suffered against Pedregon at this event that year, which ended his chances of taking that elusive first Funny Car crown.
"I'm really standing behind my two teammates. It's exciting to watch this incredible battle and hopefully they'll have a good weekend and be able to go to Pomona (Calif., the final race of the year) with a solid chance of winning the championship."
Bazemore has a solid record at The Strip. He's won here once, been runner-up four times, and No. 1 qualifier twice.