Dallas Etchells Racing Preview

With only three races remaining in the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, it is safe to say the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing Team's emphasis has slightly shifted. With the positioning amongst the top three in the Funny Car ...

With only three races remaining in the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, it is safe to say the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing Team's emphasis has slightly shifted. With the positioning amongst the top three in the Funny Car season's point standings all but decided, Whit Bazemore and the Etchells Racing crew have trained their sights exclusively on adding to their season's win total. Although achieving victory is the basic premise on which the team approaches every event, Bazemore admits that the mindset entering next weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Dallas will be just a little different.

"Our goal hasn't changed and it never will," stated Bazemore. "No matter the circumstances, this Kendall Camaro team wants to win every race it enters. The only difference when you're fighting for a position in the championship is that, whether it's for first, fifth, or getting into the Top Ten, you go to the event looking for ways to gain points and positions, such as which opponents you have to beat.

"Now that it's apparent that, barring anything extraordinary, we will finish third, the focus on where we are in the points is no longer there, which, in a way, simplifies things. Instead of seeing how many rounds you can gain on someone who's out of the race, you can just focus on aggressively pursuing the win."

But as Bazemore knows, chasing victory and achieving it are altogether different. For the Kendall team to make a second visit to the winner's circle, they realize that their "fuel coupe" must return to the consistency it displayed in reaching four consecutive final rounds in August. Since than time, however, a series of mechanical ailments have restricted them to one top qualifying effort and a semi-final finish in Topeka over the last month. Led by veteran crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards, the Etchells crew has pored over their charge, painstakingly analyzing the data produced on every run. Developments from the last event in Memphis have the team feeling confident that their problems are behind them, and they eagerly anticipate resuming competition.

"The first priority is to get our Kendall Camaro back running the way it should be," explained Bazemore. "Quite honestly, the whole team has been frustrated and disappointed by our performance over the last four races. But the good news is the season isn't over yet, and we have three chances to finish the year on an upswing by getting the bugs out of the car, running well and getting the results we want. Knowing this Etchells Racing team and how hard they work, it's only a matter of time."

Being able to extract the maximum from the racecar will be of critical importance this weekend for the world's fastest quarter-milers, as they compete on one of the NHRA's true speedplants, the Texas Motorplex. Known for its unique all-concrete racing surface, this track located outside Dallas is often described as having "lots of teeth", the racers' term for outstanding traction, which, combined with the cool fall temperatures usually found at this race, usually produces some of the quickest passes of the year. It is a challenge that Bazemore relishes and looks forward to.

"The Texas Motorplex is one of the original 'Supertracks' and I love racing there," said Bazemore. "Quite honestly, I wouldn't mind if all our tracks were 100% concrete. It's great, it's safe and the car steers where you want it. If the weather cooperates, we could run our career best there next weekend. That's one of our goals for the rest of the season, to run quicker than a 4.85. But, knowing the General (crew chief Richards), he won't throw a run out there just for the sake of running a number. If we get the car figured out, and conditions are good, we'll run well.

"We know our main competition (the Force-owned teams) have regained their stride and are strong as ever. It's up to us to answer that call. Right now, however, it's more important for this team to develop a consistent package for raceday. Big numbers are nice, but we're looking to go rounds, and put our Kendall Camaro in a position to win every time out. That's the number we're concerned about.

BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's eleventh appearance at the Texas Motorplex, where he looks to improve upon his semi-final appearance from one year ago....Bazemore's best qualifying performance at Ennis is 5th, which he accomplished in this year's spring event....Bazemore is looking to score his second win as driver of the Kendall Camaro.....Bazemore is also seeking to reach a career-best sixth final round of the season.

Fast Facts

WHAT 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals, the twentieth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule. WHEN: October 21 - 24, 1999 WHERE: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, Texas

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, October 22 at 2:30 & 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, October 23 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 24.

TV: ESPN2 will provide one hour of qualifying highlights from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., followed by three hours of semi-final and final round coverage on Sunday, October 24. (All times Eastern) As always, please check your local listings

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