ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 11, 2003) - Whit Bazemore and his Lee Beard-led Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge team stepped up to the plate today in the final qualifying round under a cloud cover, posting a stout 4.867-second pass at 319.94 mph to put him...
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 11, 2003) - Whit Bazemore and his Lee Beard-led Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge team stepped up to the plate today in the final qualifying round under a cloud cover, posting a stout 4.867-second pass at 319.94 mph to put him solidly in the top half of the field, in No. 5. In today's third qualifying round in the heat of the day, Bazemore also clocked in strong, at 4.988 seconds at 312.28 mph.
In this final qualifying session, Baze was paired with his rival Tony Pedregon, who smoked the tires at the top end and slowed to a 7.277-second run, dropping him from No. 5 to No. 6. This gave Bazemore an ever-so-slight psychological edge going into final eliminations tomorrow, as each is vying for his first career Funny Car championship this season, with three races left.
"We're a lot happier now," said Bazemore, who is 94 points behind Pedregon, "having been down the track today twice and posting the second low E.T. of the session, so that's pretty good. All in all, this was a good day for the Matco Tools Dodge team. We moved up a little bit in qualifying, which is always important."
The adrenaline always pumps harder when your fiercest rival is in the next lane. "I didn't see him on the actual run," Bazemore admitted. "You don't see the other car unless you're way behind and today we were never behind. Yeah, it's nice when you get the win light against those (John Force) guys, but the only day that really matters for us with the win light coming on is tomorrow.
"It's important for the Matco Tools Dodge team that we always go out there and are competitive every single time we run the car," he added. "(Crew chief Lee) Beard and (co-crew chief Dan) Olson and all the guys have made this car perfect and we're in a good position for tomorrow."
Bazemore will face Tommy Johnson Jr. in first round of final eliminations tomorrow.