BAZEMORE'S WEEKEND CUT SHORT IN ILLINOIS Joliet, Illinois, June 7, 1999 - Whit Bazemore's experience at the Fram Route 66 Nationals proved to be similar to a complaint echoed by many - his weekend simply wasn't long enough. The Kendall ...
BAZEMORE'S WEEKEND CUT SHORT IN ILLINOIS
Joliet, Illinois, June 7, 1999 - Whit Bazemore's experience at the Fram Route 66 Nationals proved to be similar to a complaint echoed by many - his weekend simply wasn't long enough. The Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 pilot had arrived at this outstanding facility just south of Chicago as the defending champion, and looked to leave with his second winner trophy's in as many tries. After displaying consistent performance throughout qualifying, Bazemore and crew seemed prepared to advance rounds and capture their first win of the season. As the third qualifier, he chose the left lane for his first round encounter with Tim Wilkerson. As he has throughout the season, Bazemore grabbed a three hundredths of a second advantage at the start, and powered down the track. Suddenly, wisps of white smoke appeared at the back of the Etchells Funny Car, indicating a loss of traction. Despite Bazemore's best efforts, the massive rear slicks never regained their grip, allowing Wilkerson to edge the Indianapolis resident by forty thousandths of a second and end his hopes of consecutive titles. This also marked the first race of the season where Bazemore had not recorded at least one elimination round win.
"The Kendall Camaro was on an excellent pass against Wilkerson," explained Bazemore, "But when it got off the concrete pad, it simply blew the tires off. It was simply a case of not knowing exactly where we are with this new combination that we put in the car this weekend. It was on a good lap, but we had a little too much power."
Despite their difficulties on Sunday, the Etchells crew's accomplishments over the weekend can not be overlooked. Realizing that the upcoming months would bring a combination of higher temperatures and slick racetracks, crew chief Tim Richards had installed a totally new set-up in the Kendall "fuel coupe" prior to the event, designed to perform under the worst conditions without sacrificing reliability. His handiwork was tested almost immediately, as teams experienced constantly changing weather conditions throughout qualifying from cool and rainy on Friday to sweltering heat and suffocating humidity on Saturday. Unfazed by the challenge, the team's efforts were rewarded when Bazemore's passes were consistently among the best in Funny Car. His best elapsed time of 4.956 seconds, which came with a top speed of 306.53 miles-per-hour, earned him the 3rd position on Sunday's eliminations ladder.
"This was still a positive weekend for the Kendall team," stated Bazemore. "We ran very well with our new set-up. I know that doesn't win you anything, but the fact is there's a ton of potential here. We have a car back that we can race, and I think Tim (crew chief Richards) feels very happy about that, and so do I. From the driver's seat, it was a very easy car to drive this weekend, which will make it easier to win rounds and races, and that's what we're here to do. We'll take and improve on it for Columbus."
In Sunday's final round, Tim Wilkerson ended the John Force Racing team's season-long domination when he defeated the 8-time champion to score his first win ever in a Nitro Funny Car. Columbus, Ohio is the next stop on the NHRA schedule, where the Pontiac Excitement Nationals will be held at National Trail Raceway June 10-13.
Funny Car Points Standings (As of 6/7/99): 1. J. Force - 975, 2. T.Pedregon - 731, 3. C. Pedregon - 542, 4. Whit Bazemore - 538, 5. D. Skuza - 443, 6. T. Wilkerson - 430, 7. F. Pedregon - 409, 8. D. Worsham - 391, 9. C. Lee - 386, 10. D. Creasy, Jr. - 342.
Big Bud Shootout Points (As of 6/7/99): 1. J. Force - 2,440, 2. Whit Bazemore - 2,215, 3. (tie) C. Pedregon - 2.090, 3. (tie) T. Pedregon - 2,090, 5. R. Capps - 1,852, 6. T. Wilkerson - 1,740, 7. D. Skuza - 1,700, 8. A. Hofmann - 1,650