With unseasonably cold temperatures enveloping Pomona Raceway during the first two days of qualifying for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, teams struggled to get a handle on the racing surface. After smoking the tires almost immediately on their first attempt on Thursday, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing Team looked to make a solid run in the second qualifying session on Friday, thus ensuring a spot on Sunday's final eliminations ladder.
However, after a strong launch and fast beginning, the Etchells entry started to spin the tires just before half-track. Bazemore's attempts to pedal the throttle and regain traction were thwarted by a broken blower belt, with the resulting 5.578-second elapsed time leaving them three thousandths of a second outside the top sixteen midway through qualifying. Even so, Bazemore remained confident of using one of Saturday's two runs to record a time quick enough to qualify near the top of the Funny Car field.
"We were on a decent run, until about three seconds down the track, it started to spin the tires. I had to pedal it, because the car had turned a little bit, and just when it looked like it was going to go again, the belt broke. A lot of guys are struggling out there, and in our case, I think it's partially the track, and a little bit our set-up, because I know Terry (crew chief Manzer) is really battling with this latest batch of clutch discs.
"You prefer to be safely qualified by this point in Pomona, but we have two runs tomorrow to get the job done. We've been in this position before this season, and this Kendall/Matco Camaro team knows what needs to be done, so we're not worried."