Baytown: Whit Bazemore preview

With runner-up finish in Vegas, Baze aims for the top in Houston. HOUSTON (April 9, 2003) -- With a runner-up finish in Vegas from the No 1. qualifying position, Whit Bazemore is not discouraged that he fouled out in the final round. That event...

With runner-up finish in Vegas, Baze aims for the top in Houston.

HOUSTON (April 9, 2003) -- With a runner-up finish in Vegas from the No 1. qualifying position, Whit Bazemore is not discouraged that he fouled out in the final round. That event is over; it's time to move on, says the driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, who is now third in points and aiming for first.

"We had a good weekend in Vegas," he said. "We were runner-up, No. 1 qualifier and our team proved that it's a championship-caliber team. And we are a great team. I made a mistake in the final. It's frustrating. It's a very hard way to lose, but the fact is that stuff like this happens. We're pushing the envelope and we're going to move on. I've given it a lot of thought and I learned a few things about myself.

"I'm confident that we're not going to make that mistake again. If we can pick up where we left off here in Houston with the Matco Tools Dodge, then we'll be looking pretty good."

Noted for its ability to produce kudos horsepower, the Matco Tools team headed by Lee Beard is expected to be a threat at Houston Raceway Park. "Houston has the potential to be really fast because it's at sea level," said Bazemore. "But it's gotten a little bumpy over the last couple of years and it's been hard to get the maximum out of the cars. I'm told they repaired the bumps. If they have, then the potential is there for it to be a real horsepower track, which fits our Schumacher Racing team well, because we have a high-horsepower car."

Bazemore moved into third in points with his runner-up finish in Vegas and is challenging the John Force-owned teams of Gary Densham (second) and Tony Pedregon (first) for No. 1. John Force himself is out of the top 10. "We're in the best position we've ever been in points-wise this early in the season," said Bazemore. "The team has some momentum. We put some more distance between ourselves and John Force. Right now it looks like Tony Pedregon is the team to beat. But looking at the big picture, you certainly can't count out Force, or (Don) Prudhomme's guys or Del Worsham. It's a long year and a lot of things are going to happen. It's important, especially with Force, to build up as big a cushion between us as we can. We were able to do that in Vegas. So that's good. If we can stay with Tony and stay close and try to take him out next time, then we're right there. We feel pretty good about that.

"We just have to concentrate on our car and the job at hand and that is to maximize our car and its performance and for me to get the most out of myself and not try to beat the other guys so much. It's important for me to perform at my very best, which is more than good enough to get the job done. That's what we're going to try to do here."

Qualifying for the Nitro classes at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals this weekend is at 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11. On Saturday, April 12, Nitro classes qualify at 12:00 noon and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations on Sunday, April 13, begin at 11 a.m. All times are CT.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Densham