BAZEMORE & ETCHELLS RACING LOOK FOR A SUCCESSFUL PREMIERE IN POMONA Putnam, Connecticut, January 26, 1999 - When the world's fastest quarter-milers last convened to contest an NHRA national event, it was Chuck Etchells and his Kendall ...
BAZEMORE & ETCHELLS RACING LOOK FOR A SUCCESSFUL PREMIERE IN POMONA
Putnam, Connecticut, January 26, 1999 - When the world's fastest quarter-milers last convened to contest an NHRA national event, it was Chuck Etchells and his Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Funny Car that walked away with the victory. Since then, however, the Etchells organization has had one of the most eventful off-seasons in the team's existence. In a move announced several weeks ago, Chuck Etchells reluctantly decided to devote his full attention to the business end of his race team and hired Whit Bazemore to handle the driving duties for 1999. A new crewmember was brought in to replace one who had left at the end of last season. A state-of-the-art trailer was custom built to better suit the team's needs at the track, inside of which is a fresh Victory racecar. But with all these changes, the Etchells team will pull into Pomona Raceway for the AutoZone Winternationals determined to achieve the same result - winning.
"Naturally, when you return to a track where you've experienced a recent success, you look to duplicate it," explained team owner Etchells. "In fact, there have been several cases where teams score back-to-back wins at a particular facility, and that's what our goal is - to win the AutoZone Winternationals. Looking at our team, I think we have a pretty decent shot at doing it."
The Pomona event will mark the official debut of driver Whit Bazemore in the Etchells Racing fuel coupe, which will be the first time in many years that he has driven for someone other than himself. Although on the surface his assignment would seem to be to simply show up at the track with his driver's suit and helmet, the veteran pilot knows that as the new piece in a proven puzzle, the responsibility to fit in falls on his shoulders. As with any other challenge, the highly competitive Bazemore is committed to this program's success.
"The first thing I have to do is to incorporate myself into this team," stated Bazemore. "Of course, it's a big change for me to come over here. There are differences, not only in the racecar, but also in how things are done compared to my last few years. For example, we'll both have to get used to how each other thinks. It will take some time, but if our Phoenix test session is any indication, the transition is going well, and we're making progress. I'm not going to make any bold predictions here, but I'm confident we'll be competitive right from the start."
But off-season changes and forecasts aside, the AutoZone Winernationals holds a special place with the Etchells team, just as it does for every person who comes to the event whether to participate or spectate. The winter's wait is over. It is the first race of a new season, and everyone is ready for the thrill of competition. Pomona provides a unilateral opportunity to shine, whether it's a brand new operation or a veteran crew. The unblemished promise of the new year adds to the excitement, electrifying all involved.
"Coming to Pomona Raceway for the Winternationals is always special," said Bazemore. "First of all, it's an event steeped in tradition. In addition, Southern California is acknowledged as the birthplace of our sport and of hot rodding, so there's a lot of history here. The fans are unique at this track also, because you have a mix of the long-term supporters and Generation X'ers. These people are knowledgeable and hard-core, and the rapport we have with them is incredible. There's no better way to start off the year than with a AutoZone Winternationals win, and this Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 team would like nothing better than to do just that."
BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's sixth appearance at the Winternationals, where he looks to improve upon his quarter-final finishes from 1995 & 1996....Bazemore is looking to continue his run of Top Five points finishes.....The AutoZone Winternationals will mark only the second time that Bazemore has competed at Pomona in a Camaro Z28-bodied Funny Car....While testing in Phoenix, two of Bazemore's three full power runs were under five seconds, with a best of 4.886.
WHAT: 39th annual Winston Finals, the first event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: February 4-7, 1999
WHERE: Pomona Raceway, Pomona, California
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start with one Thursday, February 4 at 3:00 p.m., continue with another on Friday, February 5 at 3:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, February 6 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 7.
TV: ESPN2 will have two shows from Pomona on Sunday, February 7. The first program will air from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with qualifying highlights from the previous three days, with a second broadcast providing two-hours of final eliminations coverage from 9:30 - 11:30 p.m. (ET). As alway, please check your local listings