Memphis: Bazemore is runner-up

Whit Bazemore's eventful weekend continued during Sunday's final eliminations of the Auto Zone Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. After a qualifying effort saw the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Racing Team overcome two mechanical failures to...

Whit Bazemore's eventful weekend continued during Sunday's final eliminations of the Auto Zone Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. After a qualifying effort saw the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Racing Team overcome two mechanical failures to place their Camaro Z28 third, the Etchells crew was faced with another prior to the first round of eliminations when a problem was discovered after they had warmed up the car. Completing their repairs, they raced to the line for their match-up with Dean Skuza. The outcome was never really in doubt, as Bazemore recorded the second quickest elapsed time of the round at 4.912 seconds to gain the win.

Facing another tough opponent in the second round, Bazemore backed up his opening effort by posting the quickest pass of the round to edge rival Jim Epler with a 4.931-second, 300.93 mph pass. In the semi-finals, it was Bazemore making the difference, as he used the combination of a lightning-quick .451 reaction time and a quick pedal of his racecar to maintain traction and score the hole-shot victory with a 5.109 second elapsed time over a slightly quicker Scotty Cannon.

This put Bazemore into his third final round of the season, where he would face Ron Capps, who had gained lane choice by virtue of a quicker time in his semi-final run. However, before the Kendall/Matco Camaro could even make it to the line for the final, the Etchells team faced another challenge, as they encountered problems during their between round service. Using every one of the seventy-five minutes allotted by the NHRA, they pulled into the lanes without a moment to spare.

When the lights turned green, Bazemore and Capps left the starting line together. It seemed as if it would be a battle to the finish line, with Bazemore appearing to have a slight edge. However, the Indianapolis resident's chances quickly disappeared when the supercharger malfunctioned. As Bazemore coasted slowly to the sideline, his opponent went on for the win. Despite the final-round disappointment, Bazemore and the Etchells Racing crew were aware of their accomplishment.

"This was a tough weekend, and this Kendall/Matco Camaro team never gave up. We ran well out of the trailer on Friday, but after that we had some mechanical breakage that we normally don't have over here. It's frustrating and could have hurt us to lose those two runs on Friday night and Saturday morning, but we came back in the afternoon and ran really well with a 4.87, which had us looking pretty good going into today.

"Conditions today were pretty much the same, and we ran well this morning with that 4.91, which was encouraging. We then came back to run the 4.93 against Epler in the second round, showing we had a fast and consistent hot rod. In the semis, however, we got caught out a little bit where we shook and had to pedal it, but we got the win over Cannon, which was very important not only in the points standings, but to get to the finals as well. We've had such an up and down year that I'd really want to leave Chuck Etchells Racing on a high note, a feeling I share with Chuck (team owner Etchells) and Terry (crew chief Manzer).

"Unfortunately, we had a mechanical problem where it blew the blower off before half track and that was it. I would like to have seen what would have happened if we didn't blow up. I think we were right there with him, because I didn't see him. It would have been a heck of a race. But, you knew sooner or later that Ron (Capps) was going to win one, because they're way too good of a team to just be the runner-up. They had done that six times already this year, which alone shows you how stout they are.

"But no matter what, it was good to get to the final, especially in light of what went on here this weekend. Any time you can make it to the final round, you've had a good day. It's a real credit to everyone on this Etchells Racing team that we were able to overcome some adversity and have a strong showing here today."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Chuck Etchells , Scotty Cannon