Columbus: Whit Bazemore eliminations summary

Bazemore advances to second round, loses to Force COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 15, 2003) - For the first time since going out in the second round in the opening 2003 POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Pomona Raceway in February, Whit Bazemore did not...

Bazemore advances to second round, loses to Force

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 15, 2003) - For the first time since going out in the second round in the opening 2003 POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Pomona Raceway in February, Whit Bazemore did not advance to the Funny Car semifinals in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T. Before today, he had reached the semifinal round in each of the last nine events, as well as to five final rounds, winning two of them.

In the first round of the Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals today, he defeated Dean Skuza with a 4.866/315.93 against Skuza's 4.913/295.21. His opponent in the second round turned out to be his old nemesis, John Force, who has recently made a turn-around in his season's performance and has become the usual Force to be reckoned with.

The difference in reaction times between the two was a blink of an eye: .077 for Bazemore, .061 for Force. It couldn't have been closer and Bazemore was making up the 16 one-thousandths of a second parity as the pair headed to the finish line, but time ran out. When the clocks flashed identical elapsed times of 4.980 seconds at the end of the quarter mile, the margin of victory for Force over Bazemore was exactly the difference in the reaction times: a mere .0168 of a second.

"There's nothing to say, really," said a disappointed Bazemore, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion, who posted a speed of 292.20 mph in that run versus Force's 286.13. "We did the best that we could do and we lost a drag race. It's very frustrating. We did our best. It just wasn't quite good enough."

"Could I have had a better light?" he asked. "Yes, because there's 700 hundredths (of a second) more to go to perfect. Those are my lights (.085 in the first round). I'm consistent and that's what it is. Those (Force) cars are very good leaving and they (get to the) 60-foot (mark) very well, and that's where we're behind and that's what we're working on to improve our performance, so we can be more competitive at that part of the race track."

In the match-up just before his and Force's, Bazemore watched points leader Tony Pedregon win against his John Force teammate Gary Densham, which put even more pressure on the driver who's No. 2 in points. "I don't care about anybody except what we're doing with our car and our lane and the job that I do. That's all that I concentrate on," Bazemore said.

"We've got a tremendous team and there's no question that we're going to have more success this year. We're gong to go to St. Louis and do what we can do. It is a long year and we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We'll have more success and hopefully win some more races this year and we'll just take it one round at a time as we always do."

Bazemore remains second in the point standings but has lost ground to Tony Pedregon for the Funny Car championship and is now 101 points behind Pedregon, who won today.

"The championship? If things are meant to be, they're meant to be," he commented. "You work hard, you prepare yourself, you prepare the car and the team, you dig deep and do the very, very best you can all the time, and then the rest has to fall into place. It's meant to be that we've already won two races this year, and we have. And the championship is something that we have a huge desire to win and we've made a commitment to win it and that's all you can do. The rest of it is you just have to work hard and do your best and let the chips falls where they fall."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Densham