Brainerd Whit Bazemore Preview

FUNNY CAR'S BAZEMORE SEEKS TO CONTINUE WINNING WAYS AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. - The last time Whit Bazemore won an NHRA national event, he said he was going to hold tight to his trophy and savor the moment because he didn't know when he'd...

FUNNY CAR'S BAZEMORE SEEKS TO CONTINUE WINNING WAYS AT BRAINERD

BRAINERD, Minn. - The last time Whit Bazemore won an NHRA national event, he said he was going to hold tight to his trophy and savor the moment because he didn't know when he'd win another one.

Standing there in the Funny Car spotlight at Chicago's Route 66 Raceway in 1998, he didn't think it would take him over a year to get back to the winner's circle. He thought it might take a couple of races before he could repeat his victory dance, but not a year.

On the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series circuit, time passes nearly as quick as the cars power down the quarter-mile. Fourteen months and five runner-up finishes later, Bazemore finally ended his dryspell by pulling out a recent victory at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

"It's very special to finally get the job done for Chuck (Etchells, team owner), Kendall and Chevrolet," said Bazemore, who came on strong in the western swing, posting runner-up finishes at Denver and Seattle before cashing in at the Autolite Nationals. "Chuck brought me into this team and had faith in me. He basically saved my career. I was getting a little frustrated because I couldn't win a race because this team won a lot of races last year. We've been to a few final rounds this year and that means a lot, but I think winning at Sonoma sends a message that this team is for real."

Bazemore, hired by Etchells late last year when Bazemore's independent team lost its major sponsor, put an exclamation point on his weekend at Sears Point by running the table on the competition. He hopes to duplicate that effort at the 18th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Aug. 19-22, at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway. The $1.6 million race is the 15th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

"That was a dream weekend at Sonoma," Bazemore said. "It's the first weekend I've had where you take low qualifier, set both ends of the track record and win the race. It's just a great feeling. It was definitely for the team. The guys have been doing a tremendous job. You really have to enjoy these highs, because these races are so hard to win."

Bazemore credits his recent surge to a new Chevrolet Camaro body, as well as the tuning experitise of crew chief Tim Richards. His victory put a mild dent in points leader John Force's big lead in the Winston standings. Third place Bazemore now trails Force by 387. He's 131 behind second place driver and Force teammate Tony Pedregon.

"I don't know what we can do with John Force in the point standings at this point, because he's way out there," Bazemore said. "But we've definitely got our eyes on second and until it's mathematically impossible to catch Force, we're going to keep after him. We're not going to give up until it's over. It's not over yet."

Worsham hot, too: Del Worsham, driver of the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird, has been another hot Funny Car competitor in recent weeks, ending a dryspell from the winner's circle of his own. Worsham's Seattle victory was his first since the 1991 season.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tim Richards