Memphis: Whit Bazemore Friday summary

Bazemore low qualifier on Friday in Memphis MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 20, 2004) - Defending Memphis Funny Car champion and No. 1 qualifier in 2003 Whit Bazemore is low qualifier after two qualifying session at the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at...

Bazemore low qualifier on Friday in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 20, 2004) - Defending Memphis Funny Car champion and No. 1 qualifier in 2003 Whit Bazemore is low qualifier after two qualifying session at the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park. Bazemore posted a 4.862-second elapsed time tonight at 309.77 mph in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus, which followed a low-qualifying 4.979/295.85 in the first round.

Bazemore, who has struggled in the last few races and is third in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series after leading, was buoyed not only by qualifying No. 1, but by the strong performance crew chief Lee Beard and the Matco Tools team pulled off in the first qualifying session under hot and humid conditions.

"We've got a never-say-die team," he said. "It's been tough the last couple of months. We had an 80-point lead in the championship and kind of gave it all back and then some.

"The team is a tight team. We're all very focused on the same goals, and that goal is to win an NHRA POWERade championship. Just making two good runs here doesn't automatically mean we're going to be back in the hunt the way we want to be. But we definitely made progress and it's the hard work that everyone has put forth that has gotten us back to this level and hopefully it's a level that we can sustain.

"The first run is always very important in order to have a good baseline going into the night run," added the two-time U.S. Nationals champion, "and the track is new (newly-extended concrete launch pad), the groove is very narrow and that makes it hard. We ran a .97 in the first run and spun the tires the last 300 or 400 feet and as a driver you know you're knocking off at least a tenth of the ET doing that. I almost shut it off. We're just not programmed to go this slow, yet (under the new 85-percent nitromethane rule). The cars are slow, let's face it. They're way slower than they were.

"Even though tonight was a good step forward running an .86 - I think last year we ran an .81 (4.826), so that's not too bad - but in the heat it's definitely a new ballgame with the new rules and the tire that we're mandated to run. It takes some getting used to. I'm not used to it, yet. I got out of the car and I couldn't believe we were low (qualifier) in the first round. But we ran a .97 and that's about what it felt like. It is all relative and it's a good thing.

"Running good in the heat today was a big step for our team. That's where we've struggled. If you're going to win races, you've got to run well in the heat.

"The fans here are great. It's going to be neat to have a night race. I'm excited about that. It's going to be hard."

Two more qualifying rounds are scheduled for Saturday.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore