Columbus: Whit Bazemore preview

Business as usual for Bazemore heading into Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13, 2003) - Whit Bazemore is hot this season in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. He's reached the semifinal round in all but one of the 10 events so far...

Business as usual for Bazemore heading into Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13, 2003) - Whit Bazemore is hot this season in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. He's reached the semifinal round in all but one of the 10 events so far in the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, as well as five final rounds. He's won two of the last three, and with another win here at the Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway and two round wins more than Tony Pedregon, he could move into first place in the point standings.

Bazemore is well aware he has this opportunity, but he also knows that this is a long season. And, although he'd be leading the point standings for the first time in his Funny Car career, his focus continues to be on consistency. "It's kind of business as usual," he says. "You feel good that you're doing your job well, and that the team is doing its job well and that the car is very competitive and that part of it feels good because it gives you a lot of satisfaction. We're kind of focused on this race right now. We're trying to get caught up after three races in a row, which is hard on everybody."

The season is heading into the summer months, which Bazemore concedes could easily turn things around. "Columbus is really the first summer track where traction kind of starts to go away," he says. "It's a different part of the season, where up to this point for the most part we've raced on really good tracks and good weather conditions that kind of benefit big horsepower cars.

"Columbus is one of the first tracks of the summer where it can be a little trickier, depending, of course, on the weather. If you do well in Columbus it could set the tone for the rest of the summer in a way and it could show who has good summer tune-ups and who doesn't. In that respect it's very important that you do well here.

"Any time you're really running well and things change it's a concern because it could throw a monkey wrench into it. Actually, Chicago (last race at Route 66 Raceway, which Bazemore won) ended up being pretty tricky to get down on Sunday, so I think we made a big stride in Chicago with the tune-up of the car. In the final round the team changed something on the car pretty drastically and it worked well. We fell pretty good. I feel really confident that we are going to be a strong contender at every race for the rest of the year. I feel confident that no matter what the conditions are that our team can adapt the Matco Tools Dodge to those conditions to run competitively.

Bazemore, of Indianapolis, holds both track records here at National Trail Raceway, the elapsed time record of 4.798 seconds as well as top speed of 320.36 mph, both set last year.

But it's his avocation of cycling that makes National Trail Raceway a fun place for him. "There's really great cycling right out of the track," he says. "I like that part of it. It's out in the country; it's really first-class cycling. So, after qualifying, MIke Dunn (ESPN commentator) and I get to go out and get in a good 50 miles with not a lot of automotive traffic. We like that."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore