BAZEMORE LOOKS TO GRAB A WIN OF OUT THIN AIR IN DENVER Putnam, Connecticut, July 11, 1999 - If Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team were able to pick one track at which to kick off the second half of the 1999 NHRA...
BAZEMORE LOOKS TO GRAB A WIN OF OUT THIN AIR IN DENVER
Putnam, Connecticut, July 11, 1999 - If Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team were able to pick one track at which to kick off the second half of the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, it would have to be Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado. Throughout their respective careers, both team owner Chuck Etchells and driver Whit Bazemore have experienced more than their share of success at this picturesque facility located just outside of Denver. Chuck Etchells won once here in four final round appearances, while capturing the top qualifying spot in 1993 and 1995. For his part, Whit Bazemore took home the Funny Car crown in 1997, ironically defeating his current car owner in the finals, and is the two-time defending Number 1 qualifier. Therefore, it is easy to see why Whit Bazemore is looking forward to returning for this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals.
"Bandimere Speedway is a great track, and it is one of the facilities where this team has had some great results in the past with Chuck Etchells driving," said Bazemore. "In the past three or four years, I have been fairly successful there too. I hope together with Tim (crew chief Richards) tuning and me driving and Chuck owning this Kendall Camaro team that we can go there this year and really do well. It would be nice to have a very good, competitive outing. Everyone on this team knows how to win at that track."
But success on the Colorado quarter-mile does not come easily. Nestled in the Rockies at an elevation of 5,800 feet, Bandimere Speedway presents a challenge unlike any other on the circuit. The combination of wafer-thin air and scorching temperatures combine to make this one of the toughest surfaces to read and drive, so crews and drivers alike will have to be on top of their game. The Etchells crew plan to have an additional weapon at their disposal - a sleek new 1999 Camaro Z28 body, which is fresh from a test at the General Motors wind tunnel.
"The Denver race is probably the most difficult race we have all year," stated Bazemore. "The heat on the track and the altitude make the car hard to drive, and just as tough to tune. That what makes me proud to have won here in '97. It was a hell of a race in the final against Chuck. We were both pedaling it, and for me to beat Chuck in that kind of race felt really good for me, because he is one of the best at getting down the track under those conditions.
"The new Camaro body should help narrow the gap between ourselves and the Mustang. The NHRA changed the rules late last year after the new Mustang body had already been built. To be honest, both the timing and the rules change put us at a disadvantage, and GM and the Chevrolet people have really worked hard to get this new design out quickly to counteract the advantage that the Mustang has had all season. I think it's going to help our performance, particularly at a track like Bandimere Speedway. We're going to have a little more rear downforce, and we need any help we can get to try to race against John (Force)."
The Mile-High Nationals also represents the first race of the second half of the season, and although some of the objectives the Etchells Racing team set for themselves at the start of the year may have changed, the primary goal remains the same - winning. As always, Whit Bazemore is straightforward on the Kendall team's focus for the remaining eleven races.
"The championship isn't mathematically over, but realistically it's pretty far away for us to win it this year," explained Bazemore. "If Force were to stumble severely, then maybe we might have a chance of catching him. But I don't foresee that happening. We're currently in third, and second place will be a tough challenge, but definitely feasible. However, our primary goal is to win races. The championship is irrelevant at this point. After the last race in Pomona in November, if we've done our best and been a good, competitive team that doesn't make many mistakes we'll have won some races and done well in the points. That's our plan, starting with Denver this weekend."
BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Bazemore's ninth appearance at Bandimere Speedway and second in a Camaro-bodied Funny Car....Bazemore looks to score his first win in the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro....Bazemore looks to duplicate his No.1 qualifying effort from a year ago, and his Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals win from 1997.
WHAT: 21st annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals.
WHEN: July 15 -18, 1999
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Denver, Colorado
SCHEDULE: Nitro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, July 16 at 4:00 & 8:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, July 17 with two rounds at 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 18.
TV: ESPN2 will air one hour of final-round coverage from 9:00-10:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, and two hours of first-round highlights on Sunday, July 18 from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.. In addition, ESPN2 will air one hour of qualifying highlights on Saturday, July 17 from 9:00 - 10:00 pm. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.