Denver Etchells Racing Post Race Report

BAZEMORE AND TEAM KENDALL GIVE THEIR NEW CAMARO BODY A NEAR-PERFECT DEBUT IN DENVER Morrison, Colorado, July 19, 1999 - Whit Bazemore took his all-new Camaro Z28 for a ride this Sunday in Denver. Just like your average driver, he was anxious to...


Morrison, Colorado, July 19, 1999 - Whit Bazemore took his all-new Camaro Z28 for a ride this Sunday in Denver. Just like your average driver, he was anxious to get behind the wheel and see what it could do, showing it off for his friends. However, Bazemore's concerns were not on taking a leisurely drive through the neighborhood checking out the CD player. The only music he wanted to hear was from his Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Funny Car's 6,000 horsepower, nitro-burning engine, and the only sights he wanted to see were the win lights in his lane after defeating an opponent.

By those standards, Bazemore had a great weekend at this past weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. After qualifying fourth, he gained easy victories in the first two rounds when Dale Creasy Jr. lost his brakes and Jerry Toliver red-lit. Each time, Bazemore took full advantage of the free pass to set the top speed of the weekend at 296.24 miles-per-hour and improve on his elapsed time, maintaining lane choice. Bazemore then advanced to his second final round of the year by defeating Scotty Cannon in the semi-finals. However, even though the Etchells Racing pilot was again able to better his elapsed time, he would have to cede lane choice to his opponent, Tony Pedregon, who had run the quickest pass of the day in his semi-final win over his boss, John Force.

This set the stage for a pairing of the two previous winners of this particular event, with Bazemore determined to repeat his 1997 winning performance. Although he was able to gain the advantage at the start, Bazemore's hopes for his first national event title of the season quickly evaporated, as he lost traction almost immediately, smoke billowing from his rear tires. Despite repeated efforts to regain control, he was unable to chase down his rival.

"We were pumped up," explained Bazemore afterwards. "We were in the finals against Tony and John Force's team, so we were especially fired up, because they're very tough. You know you have to be perfect to beat them. In fact, in our last run against Tony, we ran identical elapsed times, so we knew it would be a close race.

"Everything was good, we staged normally, I thought I cut a good light and we just smoked the tires at the hit. Whether I got into the throttle a little bit that may have helped it, or if we tuned it up, I'm not sure. I feel really bad for this Kendall Camaro crew, because they are the hardest working team I've ever seen, and I'm proud to be a part of it. They give me a perfect car every time. I am very happy here, and it I caused that loss, it kills me. We just got beat in the final, what else can you say. We smoked the tires for whatever reason and we as a team got beat."

But despite their final-round disappointment, the Etchells Racing crew leaves Bandimere Speedway knowing they had an outstanding weekend. Arriving at the Colorado quarter-mile with an all-new Camaro body fresh from the General Motors wind tunnel, the team was anxious to get as much on-track information as they could. After Friday's time trials were interrupted by rain, they were faced with having three qualifying sessions on Saturday. With driver and crew learning more about their mount's performance characteristics, they recorded a 5.116-second pass with a top speed of 286.80 miles-per-hour, which placed them fourth on Sunday's final eliminations ladder, which proved to be the first step in their trip to the finals.

"This was a great weekend for the Kendall Camaro team," stated Bazemore. "As far as the NHRA Funny Car championship is concerned we put some distance between ourselves and the guys behind us, Wilkerson and Skuza, which is very important. Realistically, our goal at this point of the year is to win races and catch Tony (Pedregon) for second. That will be difficult because John (Force) can make it easy for Tony to win, and I'm sure they want a 1-2 finish. This team will do the best they can, as they always do, and I think this new Camaro body will help us.

"Our team seems to be jelling right now. There's a good atmosphere here, which will also help. Making it to the final is a good result. Naturally, you always want to win. But today gives us a strong start to this West Coast swing, and it has us energized heading into Seattle."

The NHRA will now take a well-deserved break before heading to the Northwest for the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Washington July 30 - August 1.

Funny Car Points Standings (As of 7/18/99): 1. J. Force - 1246, 2. T.Pedregon - 995, 3. Whit Bazemore - 759, 4. T. Wilkerson - 599, 6. D. Skuza - 582, 6. C. Pedregon - 542, 7. F. Pedregon - 524, 8. D. Worsham - 487, 9. C. Lee - 460, 10. J. Epler - 445.

Big Bud Shootout Points (As of 7/18/99): 1. J. Force - 2,935, 2. Whit Bazemore - 2,615, 3. T. Pedregon - 2,515, 4. T. Wilkerson - 2,215, 5. (tie) R. Capps - 2,090, 5. (tie) C. Pedregon - 2,090, 7. D. Skuza - 2.070, 8. A. Hofmann - 1,935.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Dale Creasy Jr. , Scotty Cannon , Jerry Toliver