CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY MADISON, ILL. NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 1999 FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28 -- FINAL QUALIFYING WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/SUPERWINCH CAMARO...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY MADISON, ILL. NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 1999
FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28 -- FINAL QUALIFYING
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, is No. 7 qualifier, 5.111/290.13, set in the third qualifying session.
BAZEMORE: "It smoked the tires (in the final session). I don't know if we are very comfortable with our night tuneup, to be honest with you. We ran well in the day, in the heat. Last night (Thursday) we smoked the tires right at the hit, tonight we smoked them at 100 feet or so. It's something that Tim and Kim (Richards, co-crew chiefs) have to work out for tomorrow. This is a hard race because conditions are going to change more so than they usually do. We are going to start the race at 4 o'clock, that's going to be the hottest part of the afternoon. We will then run the rest of the rounds at night. It will get cooler and progressively get better. The good teams will rise to the occasion, as they always do. We have to make sure that we are there." ON WINNING THIS RACE TO QUALIFY FOR THE WINSTON SHOWDOWN: "I feel very depressed. We have to win this race so I qualify for the Winston (Showdown). I have got to qualify first, the only way to do that is to win the race (tomorrow). We struggled with the Camaro more than we have in a while, the last couple of races. I feel we are in an underdog position right now. We have to go out scrapping and I'm sure this team will. We are just not very comfortable with it. It almost made it tonight. Had it made it, it would have run decently, a high 4.9 or a low 5.0. We just saw (with Tommy Johnson Jr.'s 4.897 and John Force's 4.916, for 1 and 2 spot) what it will take to win -- a high .80 or low .90 whenever you run into one of those guys." ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP MIDWAY THROUGH SEASON: "Well, realistically, a championship is very far away for us righ now, for anybody other than John (Force). The closest guy is Tony (Pedregon), John's teammate. We know he's in a good position to win a championship. Mathematically it is still possible for us to win. It will take John missing some races. I just don't see that happening, the way that team has run this year, so our goals maybe have changed for the remainder of the year. We are not focused on a championship -- you always have that as your goal -- but you don't go to every race counting points and thinking about winning championships. You come thinking about each run you can make, trying to win rounds and trying to win races. If you do that, at the end of the year hopefully you are in a position to contend for the championship. We are in a good position. The goal is to finish as high as we can, we are just focused on not making mistakes, improving the team, becoming more competitive and winning races. If we can win a bunch of races and John runs into problems somehow, then the championship is possible. Right now it's pretty far away. I am not one to ever give up or throw in the towel. One thing I've learned about racing is that it pays to be realistic. If I had been realistic early in my career I would not have made it this far, but I have learned you can only do what you can do, you can't do super-human things." DO YOU LIKE THE NIGHT RACING FORMAT? "No, not really, because, we're still out here, it's quarter to 11. I wake up at 6 (a.m.) whether I go to bed at 2 (a.m.) or at 10 (p.m.). It makes for long days, and it is. I don't mind driving the car at night, I enjoy driving the car at night on a well-lit track like this, but I prefer racing in the heat of day. I don't mind it being 110 (degrees). It makes it harder in a sense. The track is not as good, it makes it harder to tune the car, it makes it harder to drive the car. I like that, I think our team does better in these situations. When you look at how we did last week in Chicago, where we still ran well. We got beat early, but we still ran well."
RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify for the second time this year. The team continues to chase a gremlin, and Capps ended up 19th in a field of 20, with an e.t. of 6.120 seconds at 237.55 mph.
CAPPS: "I don't know what to say. It's unbelievable with the talent of people we have in this whole camp. We are struggling so hard. It goes to show you just how hard this all is, that he guys of this caliber are struggling so hard. We can't dwell on the past, you have to plug forward. It's easy for us to lay our cards down and say we fold and go home. That's not what these guys are made of, that's not what I'm made of. We just have to keep plugging away. I believe we are staying to test on Sunday. One thing I know is that Don Prudhomme (team owner) will do what it takes to make sure this Camaro runs good." ON THE EARLIER RUN TODAY, WHERE YOU PEDALED FIVE TIMES: "I was told to do whatever it takes to try to get into the show. You never know. Sometimes runs like that will get you in the show. This team is better than trying a last ditch effort on a last qualifying run. We will make sure everything is fixed, whatever the problem. For whatever reason, it dropped a cylinder the last run. It hasn't done this all weekend. It's a matter of fixing these things that aren't supposed to happen, because they keep happening to us." HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP? "I'm not worried about myself, I'm worried about these guys. These guys work their tails off. I think the easy part is driving the car. Believe it or not, the hard part is making sure all your guys around you are OK. There is no difference between these guys out here and the guys who took me to second place in the champioship last year. They got me to be a hero. Right now I'm a zero. It's just a matter of keeping their spirits up. I'm not worried about how I feel right now." ON THE '99 CAMARO BODY: "The one thing we're looking forward to is running the '99 Camaro body in Bristol. There are no points to be had there and we're guaranteed a spot in the show. We will use that for testing. I can't wait to get out there and have the fans see what the '99 Camaro looks like." HAVE YOU SEEN IT? "Just pictures. It's awesome. It's being painted, it' already been mounted. It should be ready on Tuesday."
JIM EPLER, EASY CARE CORVETTE C-5, is No. 14 qualifier, 5.284/282.19.