Bazemore Wins Englishtown NHRA Funny Car ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 2003) -- Call it sweet revenge, call it just desserts, call it whatever you want, but its real name is Win. And after reaching seven of the eight semifinal rounds, as well as ...
Bazemore Wins Englishtown NHRA Funny Car
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 2003) -- Call it sweet revenge, call it just desserts, call it whatever you want, but its real name is Win. And after reaching seven of the eight semifinal rounds, as well as three final rounds (counting today's) this season, Whit Bazemore is finally taking home the Wally (Trophy named after NHRA's originator, Wally Park), after scoring his first victory of the season, the 13th of his career. And he did it following a triumph over his fiercest rival, points leader Tony Pedregon, in the semifinal.
These two have played the psyche game all year, with Bazemore red-lighting first in the final round in Las Vegas against Pedregon, and Pedregon returning the favor today in the semifinal stanza.
In the final round, however, two-time U.S. Nationals champion Bazemore, was pitted against Ron Capps, against whom Whit had an 11-8 win/loss record. It's now 12-8, as Bazemore charged to the finish line with a 4.869-second pass at 306.81 mph.
Bazemore's crew chief, Lee Beard, is considered the master of horsepower, but mainly when his car runs under cool conditions. There was some concern at the start of the final round, when the sun popped out from behind the clouds. But, the worries were for naught, as Capps smoked the tires at the launch, slowing to an 8.300/100.52 pass to earn runner-up status.
Bazemore defeated Cruz Pedregon and Del Worsham to make it into the semifinals.
"It's great to win a race here in Englishtown, a place that has so much history in this sport, especially in Funny Cars," said Bazemore, a New York City native. "This is one of the trophies you want in your career and when you get it it's one of the ones that goes up on the higher shelf, up on a pedestal. The whole team had to be patient, work hard and believe in ourselves, and that's what we did. And here we are."
Defeating points leader Tony Pedregon in the semifinal round for the second time this year was rewarding, but Bazemore brushed it off. "We didn't beat Tony Pedregon today. Tony beat himself. We happened to be in the other lane, and it's just another competitor that you have to beat to get to the winner's circle. It was good."
"It's a fantastic day for the Matco Tools team," said Beard. "I can't say enough about my guys. A lot of times out here the drivers and the crew chiefs get all the credit, but it's the real heart of the team that makes the team. They're just a fantastic group of guys that I'm surrounded by. And that makes my job, my decision-making a lot easier, because I'm very confident that they do a great job of preparing the race car. And I think that's what made the difference today.
"We got a little nervous about the sun poking out," he added. "And we made a couple last-minute adjustments to slow it down a little bit out there in the middle. That's where we were pushing it the hardest. It came our way, obviously. The Skoal team (Capps) went up in smoke.
"The big round was the round that everybody came to watch and that was us race John Force's team with Tony Pedregon," continued Beard. "Pretty intense rivalry going in between these two cars. It's myself against John Medlen as far as crew chiefs. It's my guys against their guys as far as teams, and it's Whit against Tony. And there's a lot on the line. We're battling for the championship. That's our goal. We want to be champions; they want to be champions. It just shows you how much pressure is on each of them. Today the error will be charged to Tony Pedregon."
Bazemore has carved more points from Tony Pedregon's lead in the POWERade Drag Racing Series, and is now just 72 points behind him.