Chuck Etchells Racing Phoenix Preview

BAZEMORE READY TO RISE TO THE TOP IN PHOENIX Putnam, Connecticut, January 26, 1999 -- The Arizona desert is legendary for its curing powers, with year-round warmth and low humidity offering solace to those suffering a variety of physical ills.


Putnam, Connecticut, January 26, 1999 -- The Arizona desert is legendary for its curing powers, with year-round warmth and low humidity offering solace to those suffering a variety of physical ills. Ironically, these same conditions have proven to be the perfect prescription for the racing machines of the world2s fastest quarter milers, as each year records are shattered during the running of the Checker Schucks & Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

But this performance does not come easily, as the 1,300-foot elevation and constantly changing track conditions challenges the top tuners on the NHRA circuit to come up with the perfect set-up. But as he arrives at this multi- purpose facility located just south of Phoenix, Whit Bazemore is not concerned in the least, for he knows he has the talents of the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team behind him. Exactly one year ago, this Tim and Kim Richards-led crew walked away with the Funny Car crown, as team owner Chuck Etchells claimed track records in both top speed and elapsed time during his final round victory over Ron Capps. With this kind of firepower, Bazemore is more than ready.

3I've never been short on confidence, but right now it's at an all-time high," stated Bazemore. "So far this year, this team has given me a perfect car to drive. You couldn't ask for a better-prepared car than this Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28, and I can't wait until Phoenix. With the potential I see in this Chuck Etchells organization, I am ready to go racing every single day."

Another factor adding to Bazemore's self-assurance is their performance during a test session at Firebird Raceway in January. Even though it was the first time that Bazemore had driven the Etchells Camaro, which in itself was a brand- new racecar, and the concern was more on acquiring information and developing a working relationship between driver and crew, they recorded an impressive elapsed time of 4.886 seconds. Although weather conditions may be different for this weekend's event, the knowledge of these earlier successes will provide a welcome psychological boost.

But this is not a group that rests on previous achievements. In fact, the entire Etchells team has spent the three weeks since Pomona preparing for the arduous schedule ahead. For the crew, this meant analyzing data generated during the first race, while going over every component on their "fuel coupe", checking for signs of wear. Changes or improvements dictated by their performance will be incorporated. Driver Bazemore took advantage of the time by finalizing arrangements with new associate sponsor Turtle Wax, and fine-tuning himself through running and bike riding. Team owner Chuck Etchells, meanwhile, balanced running his engraving business with tending to sponsor obligations, including a two-day visit to the Daytona 500 on behalf of primary team sponsor Kendall Motor Oil. This weekend, however, their focus will be squarely on the Arizona quarter-mile.

"We had a very good test in Phoenix, which we were able to translate into a good performance at the Winternationals in Pomona, and I see us continuing to improve this weekend," said Bazemore. "Firebird International Raceway is a very challenging track. If the conditions are absolutely perfect, we'll see the big numbers this facility is famous for. But if the sun is beating down, and the wind is blowing sand on the racing surface, it will be hard to get a handle on it. Either way, I know this team will have the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 ready to fly. We are definitely up to the challenge of leaving here as repeat winners of the Checker Schuck's & Kragen Nationals!"

BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's sixth appearance at the Checker Schuck's & Kragen Nationals, where he looks to improve upon his semi-final finish from 1997=85.Bazemore is looking to build on his testing results from January, when he posted a best elapsed time of 4.886 seconds=85..The Checker Schuck's & Kragen Nationals will be the first time that Bazemore has competed in an NHRA national event at Phoenix driving a Camaro Z28-bodied Funny Car.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 15th annual Checker Schuck's & Kragen Nationals, the second event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: February 25-28, 1999

WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, Chandler, Arizona

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, February 26 at 12 noon & 4:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, February 27 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 28.

TV: TNN will provide ninety minutes of tape-delayed final-round coverage on Sunday, March 7 from 12 noon -- 1:30 p.m.. As always, please check your local listings

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Chuck Etchells