Bazemore Goes to Second Round in Texas ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 26, 2004) - After two days of qualifying under overcast skies, track conditions at the Texas Motorplex changed once again on race day as a bright sun, hot temperatures and humid air ...
Bazemore Goes to Second Round in Texas
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 26, 2004) - After two days of qualifying under overcast skies, track conditions at the Texas Motorplex changed once again on race day as a bright sun, hot temperatures and humid air welcomed the competitors in eliminations for the O'Reilly NHRA Nationals.
Crew chiefs scrambled to make last-minute adjustments, including Lee Beard and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car team, and some even made lane swaps in the first two rounds of competition.
The driver of the Matco Tools Dodge and No. 4 qualifier Whit Bazemore met his new Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray in the first round. Gray took off first at the starting light (.069 to .105 - .000 is perfect), but it was Bazemore taking the win light by a margin of 2.4047 seconds when Gray smoked the tires at half-track in Don Schumacher's Wonder Wagon, with a 4.957/300.60 to Gray's 7.397/113.86.
In the second round, Bazemore went face to face against Del Worsham, who is knocking on Baze's door to pass him for third in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship. Bazemore had the edge at the starting light with a .097 to Worsham's .106, but the Matco Tools Dodge swerved slightly towards the left wall at about 60 ft. and Bazemore lost with an elapsed time of 4.950 seconds at 306.33 mph to Worsham's winning 4.912/316.60. Margin of victory: .0297 of a second.
Worsham ended up winning the event, which moved him into third, ahead of Bazemore, now in fourth, by 14 points.
"The Matco Tools Dodge was moving around a little bit down track," said Bazemore. "It was a disappointing loss, but we were behind a hundredth or two (of a second) from 60 feet on.
"I feel bad for the guys," he added. "The guys on this Matco Tools team have given 200 percent and it's just been a tough year for us. As good as it was at one time, it has turned into not a very good season and it's hard on everybody on the team. The people on this team are absolutely the best in the business and I'm proud to be a part of a team with them."
"We definitely made progress on our hot-weather tune-up and that's a credit to (crew chief) Lee Beard and everybody else on the team. That's always a very positive sign when you have a problem somewhere with the tune-up and you're able to fix it. It shows what kind of team you really have.
"And these guys are second to none. It didn't spin the tires. We just got outrun. We had a tiny holeshot advantage. Del is a very tough competitor and you're going to beat that team sometimes, but because they're really good, sometimes they're going to beat you, and that's how it went today."
Bazemore has won twice so far this season, 17 in his career, and has finished runner-up in the Funny Car championship twice. With four races remaining, he is 250 points behind leader John Force and still mathematically in the running to claim his first Funny Car crown.
"We'll go back to Chicago and try to win that race," said Bazemore of next weekend's (Oct. 1-3) CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., where he set the quickest and fastest Funny Car lap in NHRA history earlier this year of 4.713 seconds at 333.25 mph.