BAZEMORE IS SEMIFINAL FINISHER FOR FOURTH TIME IN SIX RACES READING, Pa. (Sept. 18, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team led by crew chiefs Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara continue to make solid...
BAZEMORE IS SEMIFINAL FINISHER FOR FOURTH TIME IN SIX RACES
READING, Pa. (Sept. 18, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team led by crew chiefs Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara continue to make solid strides in performance, as Bazemore reached the semifinal round for the fourth time in six races today at the Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
The No. 7 qualifier eliminated the U.S. Nationals double-up winner Del Worsham in the opening round of eliminations with a 4.912/312.86, then helped his teammates Ron Capps and Gary Scelzi, who are fighting for the Funny Car championship, by dismissing Eric Medlen in the second round with a 4.872/311.56.
The semifinal round found Bazemore rekindling his rivalry with his perennial antagonist John Force in one of their classic battles. Force took off first with a slight edge, but the race was over for Bazemore when he got loose immediately and could only pull out a 5.831-second pass at 193.38 mph to Force's winning 4.790/317.35.
The two-time U.S. Nationals champion and Indianapolis resident holds on to seventh place in the Funny Car point standings, and is now just 126 points out of fifth.
"We just got loose about one and a half seconds into the run," he explained. "We got beat by the guy who ran well today and made it to the final round.
"It's disappointing, but we're happy that we went to the semis, because we struggled a lot this weekend. We had little things go wrong with the Matco Tools Dodge. We never really had a perfect run.
"You can go to the semis with those circumstances as you continue to work on the car and have the team fine-tune it. It's not unrealistic to expect better results when things get more perfect.
"All in all, not a bad day, but for us to be in the championship again we really have to win every race, and we haven't. I guess we'll just work on next year and try to win these last couple of races and maybe try to help our teammates take out some guys, like we did with Medlen earlier today.
"It's a hard track. There are bumps out there and the groove is very, very narrow and for some reason it's always been a very hard track to drive perfectly.
"It's a challenge here, but the track was good for everybody."
Next on the schedule is the O'Reilly NHRA Nationals, Sept. 23-25, 2005.