LAS VEGAS (April 13, 2007) -- Whit Bazemore and his David Powers-owned Top Fuel team continue to impress as the 20-time NHRA winner transitions behind the wheel of his Matco Tools dragster. The veteran nitro pilot powered his Lee Beard-tuned rail to the provisional No. 4 qualifying position Friday evening at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Bazemore, who earned his 30th career pole two weeks ago in Houston, paced the Top Fuel field on Friday's first attempt when he used a tune-up from Beard to card a run of 4.550 seconds at 326.71 mph in the Matco Tools rail. Under the lights at The Strip at LVMS, the former professional photographer raced to the quickest pass of his brief Top Fuel career. Bazemore roared down the quarter mile in 4.501 at 328.14 to earn the fourth quickest elapsed time of the day. His previous career-best was 4.507 seconds, which he ran at both Pomona (Calif.) and Phoenix.

"We're happy," Bazemore said. "The car is consistent. It drove through the clutch a little bit on the last run and that cost us a few hundredths (of-a-second). We'd like to step into the 4.40s. We're getting there."

"We want to be No. 1," Beard added. "We just haven't found that 4.40 combination yet. We're third and fourth, so we're running well. We're not too far off from the top."

Top Fuel qualifying continues with sessions scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. (PT) on Saturday afternoon at The Strip. ESPN2 will air two hours of qualifying coverage from 6-8 p.m. (ET) on Saturday evening. Last year, he qualified his Matco Tools Funny Car 10th en route to a semifinal finish at the spring Las Vegas race.

-credit: dpm