BAZEMORE REMEMBERS HIS "FIRST" IN MEMPHIS MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2006) - Whit Bazemore enjoys returning to Memphis Motorsports Park as the driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car with 20 national-event wins in 45 final...
BAZEMORE REMEMBERS HIS "FIRST" IN MEMPHIS
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2006) - Whit Bazemore enjoys returning to Memphis Motorsports Park as the driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car with 20 national-event wins in 45 final rounds under his belt. When he arrives at this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals he'll recall that day in 1992 when, as a fledgling driver just beginning to live his lifelong dream, he reached his first Funny Car final round.
"We have a lot of good memories from Memphis," says the two-time U.S. Nationals champion, 2003 Memphis winner and No. 1 qualifier here in '03 and '04. "It's been a good place for us over the years. You never forget your first final and a race that we were favored to win. At the time, we were a really small team. We had so much help from other people between rounds it was really amazing. It's also neat that a couple of our key guys back then - and they were key only because there were two of them: Chris Forton and Bryan "Speedy" Shipman - have worked hard and elevated themselves up through the sport to become very valuable members of their respective current teams. That's always good."
(Note: Chris Forton is with Brandon Bernstein's Top Fuel team and Bryan Shipman with Melanie Troxel's Top Fuel team.)
"We had a great day," Bazemore remembers. "Our car was running good back then and we just got a little greedy in the final and smoked the tires against Al Hoffman, but I remember it very, very well."
As for the 2006 NHRA season, Bazemore has had his ups and downs. After struggling the first part of the year, he and the Matco Tools came back strong mid-season, reaching two final rounds and winning once. But, in last weekend's Brainerd, Minn., race the team suffered a setback when Bazemore failed to qualify because of a mechanical problem in the final qualifying session.
The avid cyclist and Indianapolis resident remained eighth in Funny Car points, but lost ground in the standings and is 127 markers short of fifth place. He continues to look forward and refuses to be discouraged.
"Brainerd was very frustrating," Bazemore says, "but the important thing is that we know we have such a good team and such a good running car. You just have to learn from it, but ignore it at the same time, move on and not let it influence you in a negative way at all. We just have to kind of forget it and go on, which we can do."