Bristol: Mopar Motorsports eliminations summary

Bazemore drives to the finals. Stanfield makes second round appearance. BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2003) -- Tire smoke spelled the end of Whit Bazemore's attempt to rack up his second-straight victory in his Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car at Bristol...

Bazemore drives to the finals.
Stanfield makes second round appearance.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2003) -- Tire smoke spelled the end of Whit Bazemore's attempt to rack up his second-straight victory in his Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car at Bristol Dragway during today's Mac Tools Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.

The Indiana resident lost to Del Worsham in the final, but vaulted into second place in this year's POWERade Funny Car title chase.

"We have a tremendous team here at Schumacher Racing," Bazemore said. "We're not quite there yet. But, we're awfully close. Considering the fact that we've yet to win this year, we're second in the points. Things are really looking good for our Matco Tools Dodge. The performance is there and usually very consistent. That's what it takes to win rounds and win races. Along as we keep winning rounds, the race victories will come.

"The Dodge Stratus body is really good," Bazemore added. "It's a result of all the hard work the Mopar engineers put together on the body. We've been developing it further to (crew chief) Lee Beard's taste. He's a crew chief that pays close attention to the aerodynamics, which is more important now with the 90-percent nitro rules. The guys made great calls in the heat of the day through the second round and semifinals. We had to back the power down and that's what really helps in the heat. The good downforce allows us not to have to back the car down as much."

Bazemore advanced to the finals with a first round victory over Tim Wilkerson, second round triumph over Tommy Johnson, Jr., and a semifinal win over Tony Pedregon. In the semifinals, Bazemore's 4.944-second lap at 309.06 mph lap just outran Pedregon's 4.978-second lap at 306.33 mph.

Gary Scelzi, driver of the Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T, fell to Dean Skuza in the first round of eliminations today. The California resident went up in smoke about halftrack as Skuza cruised to a 4.952-second elapsed time at 302.48 mph.

"I think the right lane was better early," said Scelzi, who ran the right lane during his run. "Everybody was concerned about smoking the tires early. Mike Neff (crew chief) was very conservative and we pulled it back -- we shouldn't have done it.

"Eveything on the computer looked real good," Scelzi continued. "The next thing we know, 'boom.' No warning, no shake, no nothing, it just drove them right off. Normally the left lane is the weaker of the two. Fortunately we had lane choice. This is one time I'm speechless on what went wrong."

STANFIELD DRIVES TO SECOND ROUND...

Greg Stanfield advanced to the second round before losing to Mike Edwards on a holeshot. Edwards, who ran a slower 6.948 at 199.73 mph, used a better (.015-.035) reaction time to beat Stanfield's 6.940-second lap at 199.76 mph.

"We made a lot of improvements this weekend," Stanfield said. "We just need to work on our race day set ups now. The track warmed up pretty good -- and we took quite a bit out -- but I think we needed to take out more (clutch). It was 12 thousandths of a second at the light. We'll just have to regroup and go to Atlanta."

The Bossier City, La., resident advanced to the second round when he defeated a red-lighting Mark Whisnant in round one.

-Mopar.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Tommy Johnson , Greg Stanfield , Mark Whisnant , Mike Edwards , Mike Neff