ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 12, 2003) - Nobody ever said it would be easy, and when you find yourself next to a driver and team that are always a threat the finish line seems awfully close sometimes, maybe too close. And so it was today for Whit Bazemore,...
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 12, 2003) - Nobody ever said it would be easy, and when you find yourself next to a driver and team that are always a threat the finish line seems awfully close sometimes, maybe too close. And so it was today for Whit Bazemore, driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car in the first two rounds of eliminations. The finish line was just close enough in the first stanza when he eliminated Tommy Johnson Jr. by a whisker and a margin of victory of .0022 of a second (4.850/320.28 for Bazemore, 4/863/314.57 for Johnson).
The second round saw another fine match-up of drag-racing talent, as Bazemore fought another close battle with Del Worsham, this time losing by a slim margin of .0246 of a second with a 4.831/319.94 pass to Worsham's winning 4.819/321.88. This was especially painful to the two-time U.S. Nationals winner as his challenger for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship Tony Pedregon won his second round with a slower 4.862-second lap and John Force did the same with another slower lap of 4.833 seconds.
"It's how it is," said Bazemore. "It's who's in the other lane and what you do as a team. In some regard it's fate and you just have to be the best prepared that you can be. And It's NHRA drag racing where anything happens any round. You just have to be the best prepared that you can be and go up there as aggressive as you think you can be without going over that fine line. And that's what out Matco Tools Dodge team did. We ran well, we got beat by a team that did a little better than we did today.
"You can take it a step further: Tony Pedregon ran even slower than Force did and he won. You can't judge what you do by what other people do, you just have to look at your own results and prepare your car, your team and your driver the best you can prepare them and then go for it."
Pedregon advanced to the semifinal and was eliminated by Dean Skuza, bringing the Funny Car championship points total to 1592 for Pedregon and 1478 for Bazemore. What's worse is that John Force, with 1415 points after winning today, has managed to move himself into serious contention, and is within striking distance of not only Bazemore for second, but Pedregon (mathematically) for first.
With two races left in the season and Bazemore 114 points back of Pedregon and 63 points ahead of Force, Bazemore's chase for his first Funny Car championship is coming down to the wire
"We don't quit, we don't give up," said Bazemore. "Our career has been a series of trials and tribulations, coming back from times when we shouldn't have ever been able to come back. The championship, until it's mathematically over, is not over and we're realistic here. We don't live in a pipedream, but the fact is it is not mathematically over. We obviously have to win the next two races and hope that our competition has some bad luck. We're not going to wish bad luck on them. All we can do is try to do what we do and that's try to win races. If we win the next two races we'll see where we are in points.
"If we don't, we'll be way better prepared for next season than we were this season."