DEFENDING TOPEKA CHAMPION BAZEMORE LOOKS TO THREE-PEAT AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2005) - Whit Bazemore has a fondness for Heartland Park Topeka, where he won his first Funny Car race in 1997 and repeated last year from the No. 1 ...
DEFENDING TOPEKA CHAMPION BAZEMORE LOOKS TO THREE-PEAT AT HEARTLAND PARK
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2005) - Whit Bazemore has a fondness for Heartland Park Topeka, where he won his first Funny Car race in 1997 and repeated last year from the No. 1 qualifying spot. He was also runner-up in 2003 and qualified No. 1 in 1999 as well.
When the POWERade Drag Racing Series arrives here this weekend, Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car team will be aiming for a three-peat and a return to the front of the point standings. Bazemore, who led three times this season while winning two events, has since dropped to fifth in the standings and is now 99 points behind leader John Force.
"Topeka is one of my favorite tracks and is the site of my first victory, in 1997," said Bazemore, who suffered a major setback after qualifying No. 1 and being upset in the first round of final eliminations in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend. "Your first win is very special. You race for so long without any success and you start to wonder if you truly have what it takes to win. So when you get that first win, it means everything to you.
"Last year we were pretty strong at this point of the year and we won here again and that was cool. But this year we're coming here with a whole different set of circumstances. We really need to have a good showing. Our Matco Tools Dodge has been hot and cold all year and we've managed to win with a cold car.
"We had a strong car in Columbus, which we demonstrated by qualifying No. 1, but we were just a little too conservative against Dale Creasy Jr. in that first round, and he beat us. We can only work towards constant improvement in the setup of the car and in my performance on the track."
SCHEDULE: On Friday, May 27, professional qualifying sessions are at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, May 28, pro sessions are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. On Sunday, May 29, final eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
TELEVISION: On Saturday, May 28, ESPN will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, May 29, ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations at 8 p.m. (ET). Also on Sunday, May 29, ESPN2 will televise NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute magazine show at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
WHIT BAZEMORE QUICK FACTS: * Two-time U.S. Nationals champion, 1997 and 2001
* Fifth in 2005 Funny Car point standings after eight events, 99 points out of lead
* Qualified No. 1 at 2004 NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals, winner over Eric Medlen
* Won here also in 1997, runner-up in 2003, and No,. 1 qualifier in 1999 as well
* Qualified in the top two in nine events in 2004, four times in No. 1
* No. 6 in 2004 Funny Car points, with two wins, five final rounds
* First Funny Car driver to break 325-mph barrier (U.S. Nationals 2001)
* Career quickest ET is 4.713 seconds, career fastest speed is 333.25 mph, both set at Route 66 Raceway in 2004 in what was at the time the quickest and fastest speed in Funny Car history
* Won three times in 2003, runner-up five times
* Has 19 career Funny Car event wins in 302 races
* Took the 2003 championship chase to penultimate race in Las Vegas in an exciting final round against eventual champion Tony Pedregon
* Was second twice in the Funny Car championship in 2001 and 2003, third in 1997 and '99 and has finished in the top five six times and 12 times in the top 10 since 1992
* Age 42, born in New York City, an avid cyclist, lives in Indianapolis with wife Michelle, a competitive amateur cyclist, and son Dashiell Aidan, born March 12, 2005
* 2005 is his fifth season with Don Schumacher Racing