After qualifying fourth and posting the quickest and fastest time during Friday's pre-race test sessions, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing Team had high hopes entering Saturday's final eliminations of the ...
After qualifying fourth and posting the quickest and fastest time during Friday's pre-race test sessions, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 Racing Team had high hopes entering Saturday's final eliminations of the Matco Tools Spring Supernationals. However, in the first round, Bazemore faced an unusual situation. His opponent would be Cristen Powell, who had qualified 13th in the Hofmann Racing Pontiac back in May. However, when the Winston Drag Racing Series returned to New Jersey for the completion of the rain-delayed race, Powell was now driving a Funny Car owned, ironically enough, by Bazemore.
Race day dawned with slightly higher temperatures than the teams had experienced on Friday, sending crew chiefs scrambling to come up with the proper combination. With no previous information to tune from, first round set-ups would be critical. As the higher qualified car, Bazemore staged in the preferred left lane. When the lights turned green, Bazemore immediately grabbed the advantage by nearly five hundredths of a second, and powered down the Raceway Park track. However, just when it seemed Bazemore would claim a critical win, the Etchells Camaro suddenly lost traction, with smoke billowing from its rear tires. Despite Bazemore's attempts to regain control, it was not enough for him to hold off Powell's charge, as she overcame Bazemore's lead to edge her car owner at the finish line.
"I approached this race as I would any other, just looking to do whatever I could to win. It's frustrating because I had drilled her on the starting line and our Kendall/Camaro was on a perfect run. It had made it through the transition period where we've had problems and was right in the center of the groove, going dead straight. I thought we were looking good and figured we'd run somewhere in the 4.90s. Unfortunately, when it got to the middle of the track, it simply lost traction and blew the tires off.
"This loss feels worse than I expected it would, and may be even harder to take that a "normal' defeat. We weren't going to have that car not try to win. I hope the fans appreciate the fact that there were no games. But this weekend is just typical for us this season. We've been so up and down, there seems to no middle ground. Either we go to the final or we're out early. It makes it very hard to handle. Fortunately, we have another race in a few days. We'll put today behind us, and focus on doing well in Reading."