Baytown: Whit Bazemore Saturday summary

Bazemore on 'front row' in Houston; takes no. 2. Whit Bazemore, in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T, didn't improve his elapsed time or his No. 2 qualifying position today in the heat of a sunny, bright day at Houston Raceway Park...

Bazemore on 'front row' in Houston; takes no. 2.

Whit Bazemore, in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T, didn't improve his elapsed time or his No. 2 qualifying position today in the heat of a sunny, bright day at Houston Raceway Park for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals. His 4.778/323.89 he posted Friday night held up for the '"front row" for tomorrow's final eliminations.

He did, however, perform a nearly picture-perfect pass for the conditions in the first qualifying session today, with a 4.848-second lap at 318.32 mph. Bazemore and crew chief Lee Beard continue to impress. Beard is considered to be the master of cooler conditions, but he's clearly able to make Bazemore's Funny Car run strong under the heat of the sun as well.

His speed was the fastest of the session, and only John Force bettered his e.t. with a 4.820.

Baze lost traction at half-track in the final session and posted an 8.494/96.29, after the team tried to step it up to regain the No. 1 spot.

He will face his teammate Gary Scelzi in the first round of eliminations.

"Qualifying went well. We're slightly disappointed with the last run that we didn't go down the track," he said. "But we were really trying to step up our performance. We were trying to get the Matco Tools Dodge in the No. 1 spot on a track that just wouldn't hold it.

"We were a little weak early; we are trying to address that. We have problems there. Our car runs very well through the middle. A large part of that is due to the Dodge body giving us downforce. There are bumps out there and downforce is very important.

"We're excited. We have to race our teammate tomorrow. That's not that good. Scelzi and I have gotten to be pretty good friends the last couple of months. Unfortunately, that just all went out the window now, as far as I'm concerned (he said laughing). I hope he's ready.

"But really, Scelzi's team struggled a little bit lately. We certainly know their potential. It's just like (John) Force's team struggling. They may be struggling, but you can never, ever, ever count them out. And Gary and Mike Neff and the Oakley team over there, they're in the same situation.

"On paper it looks like a gimme, but it isn't. It's going to be hard work for us and we're going to have to earn that win. it's going to be tough. I can think of some other cars I'd much rather run in the first round than that Oakley Dodge over there."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Mike Neff