Memphis: Whit Bazemore preview

Bazemore turns focus on winning rounds and 2006 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2005) - Whit Bazemore has a tough road ahead for the rest of the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series season if he's to win his first Funny Car championship. It's not out of...

Bazemore turns focus on winning rounds and 2006

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2005) - Whit Bazemore has a tough road ahead for the rest of the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series season if he's to win his first Funny Car championship. It's not out of the question, he says, but it is a longshot.

So the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park will be a pivotal race as he and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus team continue to jell (with new crew chiefs Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara) and make advancements in the car's performance. Bazemore led the Funny Car point standings early in the year, winning twice, but fell into a slump mid-year, which resulted in a crew chief change.

The two-time U.S. Nationals champion, No. 1 qualifier in 2003 and '04 and winner here in '03, is seventh in points, 192 out of the lead and 85 short of a top-five placement. Going rounds and gaining points this weekend, and even better, a win, could elevate him in the standings and provide a well-needed boost to the Matco Tools team.

"Memphis will be a very hard race," he says. "Most likely we're going to have high temperatures here racing in August . We used to race here in October, which was quite a bit different. And even though the race will be at 'night,' (final eliminations begin at 3 p.m.), It's still going to be hot, but a night race is exciting for the fans."

Bazemore has gone to the semifinal round twice in the last three races, but a first-round loss in Brainerd last weekend was a disappointment to the team that looked like it was getting back on track.

"We lost a little bit of momentum in Brainerd, which is just a killer because when (points leader Robert) Hight and (second in points and teammate Gary) Scelzi both went out in the first round, we were the last pair. With data gained from their runs we thought we had a great opportunity to really elevate ourselves up in the points chase, but it just didn't happen.

"Basically, the season now, in my opinion, is for us to really focus on getting the best out of our Matco Tools Dodge and ourselves and prepare for next year - to see if we can really, truly build this team into a team that can go out and win a championship.

"To me that starts in Memphis. We're not conceding this year. It's awfully tough, though. I think we just need to focus on our car and make it our goal to go down the race track every single run and what happens, happens, and prepare for next season."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore