Denver Funny Car - First All-Camaro "Front Row"




WHIT BAZEMORE, TEAM WINSTON CAMARO Z28, is No. 1 qualifier, 5.167/289.85. CHUCK ETCHELLS, KENDALL/MA MA ROSA'S PIZZA/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, is No. 2 qualifier, 5.245/284.81, marking the first time since Chevrolet entered Funny Car competition in 1997 that two Camaros have occupied the top two spots after final qualifying.

Note: Etchells moves within one point of the lead in the Winston championship with today's No. 2 qualifying run: John Force 819, Etchells 818.

BAZEMORE: IS PEDALING GOING TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE TOMORROW? "Probably. The majority of the races tomorrow will be run that way, especially in Funny Car, because the Funny Cars are obviously squirrelly and are more prone to smoking the tires. It's going to be the driver who has the most car control and keeps tire spin to a minimum and will go rounds. It's that, with the exception of the last run, why we always go to the finish line no matter what. It comes naturally for me. It costs more to smoke the tires, you hurt the car, you take a greater risk in blowing it up. You have to get into the mind set of always driving it loose, so when it does get loose it is not a surprise. At a race like this it really pays off, I think."

"Drag racing drivers don't get the credit that drivers in other forms of racing get. One of the reasons is to the observer things happen so quick often times the observers don't see it. It's such a fine, fine line. Anyone of the guys will tell you, smoking the tires borders on being fun and being frightening. It's like driving on ice, but bear in mind we're still accelerating at 200 mph. You make one small move too much and the back is going to come around and you're going to be in trouble. It takes a very delicate touch on the throttle and the steering wheel."

"It's really unbelievable to come here and have the success we are having up here so far, to be No. 1 qualifier two years in a row I still can't believe it."

IS THERE AN ADVANTAGE TO HAVING THE CAMARO BODY, SINCE YOU AND ETCHELLS ARE UP FRONT AND RON CAPPS IS FOURTH? "The Camaro is an outstanding car and that's why we changed from the Mustang. We thought the Camaro might be a little better, and it's proving that it is. But having said that, the Ford teams are complaining pretty loudly that their cars are at a disadvantage. But we had a Mustang here last year. Aerodynamically, the best car will help you at a place like this, where there's a premium on downforce. I think we did pretty well with the Mustang. The Mustang seems to be fast, but we think the Camaro has an advantage, that's why we changed. It's hard to compare because we changed chassis too and the only thng that we can say is that if we had the Mustang we might have spun the tires more. I like the way the Camaro feels, and the way it looks, the fans like the fact that we're in a Chevy Camaro. I'm really surprised at that. We seem to have a lot more fans now. We get a lot of fans saying we're glad we're in a Chevy. I seem to sign more Chevy shirts and hats."

ETCHELLS: "People have asked me how it feels to creep up on John Force for the points lead. We've actually been running right up there with him all year. In fact, there's a bunch of us clumped right together. At one point, if you remember, John was in fourth place, so he has come back on everyone else. But the Kendall Camaro Z28 team is thrilled to be in the position we're in. That last run was really awesome. We actually had toyed with the idea of not running in the last session, but my co-crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards decided we'd go for it. They're very supersititious, and they knew those lottery tickets were at stake. Earlier in the week, they had gone to one of the local casinos, and won a bunch of money, so, knowing how they think, they already saw that as a good start to the weekend. Now that we've won the 1,000 Colorado lottery tickets, I'm sure that will play right along the same line, and that's good. If the team is enthused, and has a high level of confidence, it will make our Camaro run better."

RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, is No. 4 qualifier, 5.306/286.07. Ron tested here last week. "Testing definitely helped. We had some weird stuff happen on Friday in both runs. Things that usually don't go wrong. We found some particles of dirt in the fuel system. When you have to fight stuff like that it's not fun. Roland (Leong, crew chief) put it back the way it was whe we were testing and we ran a 5.31 the first session and then we were able to repeat and run a 5.32 in the second session, two of the hottest times of the day That's what it's going to be like tomorrow. That's what we have to look at, going down the track. It's going to be exciting tomorrow, it will be anybody's race. A lot of people were having traction problems at the end of the track, but our Camaro went right down the track."


KURT JOHNSON, AC DELCO CAMARO Z28, is No. 2 qualifier, 7.381/186.10. "It's hot and greasy out there. It's gong to be whoever can do the best job of gambling and throwing the dice tomorrow. Everybdy is running low 7.50s and everybody is grouped togther. We have to run (Jim) Yates first round and he's right ahead of us in points. We've got our job to do, get off the starting line and make a halfway decent run. I think we have the power under the Camaro hood to beat him. We'll see what happens. We're qualified well, we qualified second, but that run was on Friday night where it doesn't really matter for what happens Sunday. We were quick this morning. But if you look at it, we ran a .49, Yates ran a .49, then we ran a .53, Yates ran a .53, so we'll have our work cut out for us tomorrow."

TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/MAC TOOLS/KENDALL MOTOR OIL CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify. Hammonds is a former Denver resident, living here from 1993 to 1998, working as a power forward/center for the Denver Nuggets. Earlier this year he joined the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I'm definitely disappointed, especially when you beat yourself. During testing we tested a few parts for Magnaflow, which supplies us with fuel pumps and rgulators, and changed our fuel pressure from what it was at sea level. We weren't supposed to do that. On Friday night as soon as I let the clutch out it dumped excess fuel into the carburetors and killed my 60-ft. time and without the 60-ft. or 300-ft. times that kills the whole run. We came back and I thought we ran pretty well this morning, but the track conditions were just too hot. We had a lot of friends that came to the race. I hate making excuses, we just have to work on our quaifying setup and we definitely beat ourselves. We got enough going against us as it is."

LARRY MORGAN, RAYBESTOS CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify. "We're headed to California, we've had enough of Denver (laughing). We were in the top five every run except the one round (Friday night), it just got us. We have plenty, we should qualify every race. Stupid things get us. Not making the run last night was the big thing that hurt us. I just got crossed up, headed to the centerlline and couldn't keep control of it. The Camaro is just so much better than that."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force