WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 1 tonight, with a track record 5.026-second elapsed time at 302.82 mph. This is Whit's seventh career No. 1 qualifying position; the last one coming in October '99 in Topeka,...
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 1 tonight, with a track record 5.026-second elapsed time at 302.82 mph. This is Whit's seventh career No. 1 qualifying position; the last one coming in October '99 in Topeka, Kans. Whit did not make it into the field until the final round.
BAZEMORE: "It got a little boring -- the class, our team, the whole thing -- so we had to write the script and follow it. I was plenty nervous because the car is very difficult to drive when it smokes the tires. For some reason the chassis is not quite right. It wants to turn left all the time. This is not a Winston Cup track. I was worrying that if it did smoke the tires it would be difficult to recover. But we got the tune-up right; it went perfectly down the track. That's the kind of run you want. Last year we debuted the new Camaro here and it was the state of the art. This year we're a little bit behind the Pontiac and Ford as far as downforce (is concered). We're fortunate to be low. The overcast sky helped us, I think, a little bit. It definitely made the track a little tighter. Terry (Manzer, crew chief) made some fairly significant changes. It's only the third race for him with the team; there's still a learning process going on between us. He was low qualifier here last year with Tim Wilkerson, I believe; we were runner-up. We won this race in '97; Chuck (Etchells, team owner) was runne-rup in '97. I don't know what happened in '98. We ran pretty well, we went to the third round. We like this race; we have done well here. We have to turn our season around. It's been a frustrating and difficult season. As good as it feels right now, tomorrow is most important. We're a winning team that hasn't been winning."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT NOT MAKING THE SHOW? "I was very concerned. You have to have a certain amount of confidence in yourself and your team, And the way the car was handling I was concerned that if it smoked the tires it was going to be all over the place. It doesn't go straight; it doesn't handle right. We have to work on it next week; there's nothing we can do about it here. The important thing was to get it stuck to the track and not smoke the tires and make the show; that's what we did. As much as I want to go on a 70-mile trip up the mountains (on the road bike) I don't want to do it tomorrow."
JIM EPLER, WWF RACING "BIG RED MACHINE" CAMARO Z28, is No. 3 qualifier, 5.072/291.82. Before the final session, Jim was No. 2 with that lap. In the final qualifying session he posted a 5.237/249.39 lap.
EPLER: "We were really trying to make a major move the last run, but dropped the No. 4 cylinder and then we picked it up out of the groove, and blew the blower belt off real early. We were trying to be the first 4-second car at Bandimere Speedway. It's going to be cooler tomorrow. I make a prediction that it's going to happen; I just hope it's us. The Camaro handles good. I know Bazemore and Chevrolet debuted the new Camaro body here last year. We were impressed with it. If you need downforce, this is the place. It's nice to have this Camaro body. It's got good frontal downforce, so it steers real good. So when you have a problem keeping it in the groove, it's better for that, and that can be a factor. The biggest thing for me is that it steers so well. On a track like this you have to have a car that will steer."
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, dropped out of the top half of the field by qualifying No. 9 with the 5.174/282.36 lap from this morning's session. In the final session he smoked the tires to an 8.779-second pass at 93.41 mph.
CAPPS: "The first run we made today was the .17 in the heat of the day. That's what we were looking to do for tomorrow's weather. This last run we wanted to go for a shot at stepping up in the field quite a bit. When you take chances like that and you let it all hang out a little bit there's a pretty good chance you won't make it. It smoked the tires. We know what we have to do in the heat of the day and we know that's what's important for tomorrow." ON YOUR TEAM CHEVROLET TEAMMATE BAZEMORE TAKING THE POLE: "Cool; good for him. Whit's had a tough year; it's good to see that team, as hard as they have been working, to reap a little bit of what makes the sport so much fun, the highs and lows. They have had some lows; we know what that's like on this team. Whit's always done well at this track, at least he'll get to race tomorrow."
SCOTTY CANNON, CAMARO Z28, is No. 11, 5.177/269.83; BOB GILBERTSON, THINK TANK CAMARO Z28, is No. 12, 5.188/290.76.
PRO STOCK: KURT JOHNSON QUALIFIES NO. 1 FOR THIRD TIME THIS SEASON
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 1 this afternoon, with a 7.339-second elapsed time at 187.81 mph. He inched out his dad Warren for the top spot by .008 of a second. Temperatures reached the high 90s today.
KURT: WAS IT AN ADVANTAGE BEING AT THE BACK OF THE PACK; THE WEATHER USUALLY GETS COOLER AND TIMES GET QUICKER? "Exactly. Under conditions like this every little bit helps, every minute helps. The track gets better when the weather gets cooler. I had a list of changes we had to make; we made some 12 changes; they were small changes, such as carburetors, clutch, tires. I came out this morning and put a different clutch in the car. We kind of gambled and it paid off for us today. The car has been consistent, but we just haven't had good luck. We will just beat on it until it's consistent and we can win." WAS THE 13TH THING ON YOUR LIST BEATING YOUR DAD? "We will worry about that tomorrow. Hopefully we will both go to the final." WHY IS IT THAT YOU DO BETTER WHEN WE'RE ON THE WESTERN SWING? "It's time to go. There are only so many races. I'm running out of time; I'd better get going. It's a big boost for us to be No. 1 here. The Camaro has not been consistent. It's run a lot better in the beginning of the year. It ran good in Columbus, but we got beat by the weather; and we got beat by Dad in St. Louis. The last few races we have been in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Hopefully we can turn it around and get some luck going our way." DID YOU THINK YOU COULD BE NO. 1 HERE? "I really didn't know because it's the first time we had this car here with all the changes. I looked at my notes as far as carburetion and gearing (was concerned); we rolled the dice and run a .41 in the first session and a .37 last night. We were always in the thick of it and it was running good speed. We knew that if we had the first 300 feet negotiated, it would run good tonight."
TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/GM PERFORMANCE PARTS CAMARO Z28, did not qualify. Going into today's final session, he was in 11th with a 7.408-second elapsed time at 185.36 mph. It looked good for Tom to qualify for the first time in six races (of 13 he's scheduled to run) this season. While a majority of the other Pro Stockers improved in that session, Tom did not with his 7.435-second pass at 183.84 mph. He dropped to the bump spot (16th) with only one car left to qualify. Mark Pawuk made it into the field, bumping Tom out.
HAMMONDS: "It just seems like every time we make any kind of progress something else rears it's ugly head and bites us. We really didn't notice it until this last run, but every pass the engine has been steadily losing vacuum and really didn't accelerate like it's capable of, especially in the last run. And from the last run on Friday to the last run tonight we have lost almost 2.5 inches of vacuum. We are just going to have to talk to Jimmy (Oliver) and Rocky (Tom Roberts) and Ron (Krisher, engine builder) and hopefully the problem is very simple."
WERE YOU WATCHING PAWUK IN THAT LAST RUN?
"I've said this before. I don't want to qualify until I can give my best and until I can give my best I don't want someone to give our team anything. I don't want to be in a position where it's the last session and I'm sitting on top of the fence hoping that the last guy shakes. In my mind that's not the way I want to race. We just have to diagnose the problem, come up with a solution and be ready for the next race. The season is winding down for us and we definitely need to start running well soon." YOU'RE GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER: "That's no consolation. We want to be in the field solidly and be racing competitively on Sunday, not just getting in by the skin of our teeth."
V. GAINES, WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, from nearby Lakewood, Colo., qualified No. 6, 7.359/186.07. RICKIE SMITH, BUCKS COUNTY KAWASAKI CAMARO Z28, is No. 14, 7.400/184.95.