Denver: Bazemore, KJ win in Camaros

Chevrolet Camaro Z28s swept the Funny Car and Pro Stock classes today, with two first-time season winners taking trophies at the picturesque Bandimere Speedway that sits on a mountainside just outside of Denver. Both grabbed their titles from...

Chevrolet Camaro Z28s swept the Funny Car and Pro Stock classes today, with two first-time season winners taking trophies at the picturesque Bandimere Speedway that sits on a mountainside just outside of Denver. Both grabbed their titles from their No. 1 qualifying positions.

WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, won his first Funny Car race of the year and his first since the 1999 Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., defeating SCOTTY CANNON'S CAMARO Z28, in only the third all-Camaro final round in NHRA history. This was Bazemore's seventh victory in 15 final-round appearances.

This marks the Camaro's fourth win of the 2000 season. The other winners are Jerry Toliver (2) and Jim Epler (1), both in WWF Racing-sponsored Camaros.

KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, scored his first Pro Stock win of the year, and his first since the 1999 Prolong Northwest Nationals in Seattle. With16 wins in 32 final rounds in his career, Kurt is batting .500 in final-round competition.

Bazemore, of Indianapolis, also posted the first 4-second lap at Bandimere Speedway, a 4.990-second elapsed time at 301.20 mph, to defeat Cannon's 5.447/273.83, producing, of course, a track record. He disposed of Tim Wilkerson, Al Hofmann and Del Worsham en route to the final match-up with Cannon.

BAZEMORE: "We all proved as a team that Terry Manzer (crew chief) is outstanding. The whole Kendall/Matco Camaro crew worked together so well today; nothing went wrong. Yesterday, my confidence (before the last qualifying session) was probably in an all-time low and I'm a pretty cocky person. We came out and qualified on the pole and today he proved it wasn't a fluke. It was just a tremendous effort by the entire team. My driving came around. I'm really excited about the rest of the season. I'm really looking forward to it."

WHAT DID YOU DO TO GET THE 4-SECOND LAP? "We had to take power out of it yesterday. The thing is an animal. It makes a lot of power. We had to take it out to get it down the track. To run a 4 (-second lap) here -- Chuck (Etchells, team owner) was the first to run a 4 (at the 1993 Topeka October event) -- It's my bit of history. It doesn't match up to his, but it's still my accomplishment."

DOES THIS HAVE HEALING POWER? "It's still a long season to go. We struggled all year, as everybody knows. We have to look forward to the next race now. We're not where we want to be. We want to be leading the championship; that's a long way away. I figure we'll just work and work and work. We will need to salvage the season and (maybe) we can have a good season and look back at the end of the year and say we had a good year."

MORE ON TERRY MANZER: "We struggled the first few races with Terry a little bit. The car ran well, but we were inconsistent. But today he really got the job done. It's a tremendous effort on his part. He had something to prove because of what happened to him. He was really aggressive today and I like that."

ON YOUR SUCCESS AT THIS TRACK: "I've got to talk to (John) Bandimere about that. If you move this track and they make a housing development (on the site) I want an acre. I don't want to put one up for a half-a-million bucks, but I will build a house up there near the finish line. It's a great track. In reality this is the only track that really has its own personality. it's very unique. The fans love this place and I love it too. It's the hardest race we have, fighting the altitude. Whatever he does he's doing the best thing for his race and his business. Whatever happens my heart is here on this mountain."

ON THE RUN AGAINST CANNON: "The Camaro ran well early in the run and I never saw Scotty. When we got past 300-400 feet I knew it was on a good run. It did spin the tires a little bit down track. I knew that we could run a low 4.90. I knew there was a possibility that we could run a 4 (-second lap). It was a tremendous job for Terry Manzer and the entire team."

In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson, posting a strong 7.356-second elapsed time at 188.04 mph, defeated Darrell Alderman's Dodge Avenger (7.375/186.28) in his first final-round of the season. This was the Camaro brand's second win of the 2000 season in 12 events. V. GAINES, in the WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, captured his only Pro Stock title in Dallas this season.

Kurt eliminated Scott Geoffrion, Troy Coughlin and Ron Krisher on his trip to the final round, recording the weekend's quickest elapsed time in the first round, 7.284. He nearly matched that achievement in the ensuing laps with elapsed times of 7.314, 7.337 and 7.356 seconds.

KURT: "I knew he would be tough. He was a couple of hundredths (of a second) from me lane to lane. I thought he would slow down in the right lane in the final. He was cutting good lights all day. I had reaction times of .450 or .460, which was average. I knew I had to get a good one in the final. I left on him by five thousandths. We ran a 7.35 and he ran a 7.37. Everything worked out just right today. Actually, everything has worked out great since we've been here. We had no speeding tickets on the way; everything has worked right since we left the shop."

THIS IS YOUR FIRST WIN IN A YEAR: "It's been a year. When you struggle in the beginning of the year, and the car is not running right and it's inconsistent, then your driving goes off. When you do get the car working you have to get your driving back. I've been beating myself up on this. I have had a hard time with reaction times on this car; I'm letting the clutch out and the car is not moving. But I was above average today. I think I have something worked out and the Camaro can go down the track now, and we have enough Chevy power under the hood to get it through there."

<pre> POINT STANDINGS:

FUNNY CAR:

1. Jerry Toliver, Camaro/Firebird 1008 2. John Force, Mustang 935 3. Tony Pedregon 795 4. Ron Capps, Camaro 787 5. Jim Epler, Camaro 667 8. Whit Bazemore, Camaro 554

PRO STOCK:

1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Cutlass 1027 2. Ron Krisher, Firebird 838 3. Warren Johnson, Firebird 783 4. Kurt Johnson, Camaro 701 5. Troy Coughlin, Cutlass 667

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Ron Krisher , Scott Geoffrion , Jerry Toliver