BAZEMORE HOPES BUSY SCHEDULE INCLUDES COLUMBUS WINNER'S CIRCLE Putnam, Connecticut, June 9, 1999 - Much has been written of the stress put on teams by the many back-to-back races on the 1999 NHRA Schedule. One can therefore imagine the burden...
BAZEMORE HOPES BUSY SCHEDULE INCLUDES COLUMBUS WINNER'S CIRCLE
Putnam, Connecticut, June 9, 1999 - Much has been written of the stress put on teams by the many back-to-back races on the 1999 NHRA Schedule. One can therefore imagine the burden shouldered by the Chuck Etchells Racing team, which is currently in the middle of a seven-week stretch of consecutive competitions, combining NHRA events and match races. Although driver Whit Bazemore enjoys the added seat time, he empathizes with the demands it places on the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro crew that prepares his Funny Car. As they arrive in Ohio for this weekend's Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Bazemore acknowledges the dedication and commitment of his Chuck Etchells Racing teammates.
"We've certainly done a lot a racing recently, and as a driver I love it" explained Bazemore. "For example, at the end of last year when a rainout forced us to run five national events on consecutive weekends, I was in heaven. But there's no denying the burden that back-to-back races put on the team.
For teams with sufficient budget and personnel, there's a tremendous amount of preparation to have all the necessary parts ready. For the smaller teams who can't afford new parts, there's less time to make repairs. If you're running well, it's a lot easier, because if you get behind on the car, you never have a chance to catch back up. With the crew we have at Etchells Racing, I know they'll stay on top of our Kendall Camaro, and make my job easy."
As Bazemore points out, preparation is the key to success in NHRA Winston Drag Racing, and every member of the Etchells organization plays a part. From team owner Chuck Etchells who secures the funding and establishes the budget, through co-crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards, who decide on the set-ups and oversee the parts inventory, to each crewman who puts the pieces together, the focus is on having every resource at the ready under any circumstance. The team is never at a standstill, as evidenced by the crew preparing new blocks or heads during rain delays at the racetrack. It is this mindset that keeps the Kendall team among the elite.
"Everyone races the same schedule, so you learn to live with it," states Bazemore. "Chuck just made a big investment buying some new cylinder heads and blocks and other parts and pieces, to make sure Tim Richards has everything he needs to have the Kendall Camaro properly prepared. If we ran 20 races back-to-back, I know this Kendall team would find a way to make us competitive at every race."
Just as his crew chief will gather valuable information during this busy period, Bazemore the driver will benefit, for every pass he makes is a opportunity for learning. No matter the level of experience, every run allows a driver to increase his comfort level with the racecar. By competing in match races on tracks where traction is questionable, Bazemore is able to prepare for the hot, slick surfaces on which he will race in future events, starting with this weekend at National Trail Raceway. Bazemore knows lessons learned during "off" weekends could pave the road to national event wins.
"Columbus has been a very difficult racetrack the last three or four years," said Bazemore. "It's not the kind of racetrack where you set the car on kill, because the traction has been pretty marginal down track. I expect more of the same this weekend, which puts a real premium on two things.
First, the crew chief must be able to set the car up to minimize the amount of traction problems. You have to compensate for the lack of grip so you won't spin the tires. Second, as a driver, I'll have to do my job, because the car will be loose and sliding around. It makes it exciting, and you really have to pay attention. At 300 miles-per-hour, it's a lot like driving on ice. I know the crew will have our Kendall Camaro ready to run, so it'll be up to me to do my job and get us in the Pontiac Excitement Nationals winner's circle."
BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's 1st appearance at National Trail Raceway in a Camaro, and he looks to improve on his runner-up finish from 1997....Bazemore is looking for his first win as driver of the Kendall Camaro.....Bazemore best qualifying effort at this event was 2nd in 1997.
WHAT: 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, the tenth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: June 10-13, 1999
WHERE: National Trail Raceway, Kirkersville, Ohio
SCHEDULE: Nitro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, June 11 at 4:00 & 8:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, June 12 with two rounds at 12:00 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 13.
TV: ABC will air one hour of tape-delayed final-round coverage from 3-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.