Englishtown: Whit Bazemore preview

Bazemore achieving goals: going rounds, aiming for no. 1 ENGLISHTOWN. N.J. (May 12, 2003) -- Second in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings after seven events, Whit Bazemore is whittling his way to the top spot in his...

Bazemore achieving goals: going rounds, aiming for no. 1

ENGLISHTOWN. N.J. (May 12, 2003) -- Second in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings after seven events, Whit Bazemore is whittling his way to the top spot in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T. That's been his goal all season long: win rounds, collect points, move to the front. He's just 108 points out of No. 1.

The New York City native is in the strongest position he's ever been this early in a season in his 15-year NHRA career, and he credits the expertise of his Lee Beard-led team as they contend for their first season win at the K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., this weekend.

"We've had a good year so far," says Bazemore, who has reached the semifinals in six of the last seven events, as well as two finals. "We've had one little problem area that's cost us rounds and races. And that's smoking the tires almost at the hit of the throttle. Our weakness compared to our main competition appears to be in the first 300 feet. Beyond that, our Matco Tools Dodge has nearly always been the strongest car. I know Lee and the guys are addressing this problem.

"We're not allowing ourselves to be frustrated because the championship usually goes to the person who wins the most rounds and not necessarily the most races. If we continue to win rounds we'll put ourselves in a position to win races. And we have. And we're consistently in that position."

The 12-time event winner finished second in the point standings in 2001, third in 1999 and fifth in 2002. "Our goal is to win the championship," he says, "and everyone on our team is the type of person who over-achieves his goals."

The Old Bridge Township Raceway has the potential to deliver the team its first victory of the year. "It's a really good horsepower track," says Bazemore, whose car seems to thrive at these types of tracks. "The surface is good, so we like it. It's one of the top-five races on the schedule you want to win. It's a grand-daddy race."

The weather is expected to be cool in Englishtown, another aspect that contributes to Lee Beard's tune-up.

Pro Nitro qualifying for the K&N SuperNationals begins on Friday, May 16, at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, May 17, Pro Nitro qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. Final Eliminations on Sunday, May 18, start at 11 a.m.

BAZEMORE TESTS SCELZI'S OAKLEY DODGE AT INDY OVER WEEKEND

Whit Bazemore made four laps down the quarter-mile at Indianapolis Raceway Park this Mother's Day in his teammate Gary Scelzi's Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. "It's way more convenient for me to test in Indy than to fly Scelzi in for a day because I live there. We're a team and we work together," he said.

"The Oakley car's had huge potential all year and (crew chief) Mike Neff and the team are trying to refine it a little bit and try a few things. They tested some different components on it, which seemed to help." It sure did, as Bazemore made it down the track in cool and windy conditions in 4.80 seconds at just over 325 miles an hour -- just a tick under his own track speed record of 325.69 mph and a tad slower than his elapsed-time track record of 4.756 seconds.

"Our Matco Tools car and the Oakley car are not identical by any means," added Bazemore. "So, in that light, it was a very, very good test and Scelzi should be excited about the potential his team has going into Englishtown, which I know he is. If the weather in Englishtown is similar to what we had in Indianapolis, which we're hearing it might be, I think the Oakley team and the Matco Tools team will be a little better prepared for these kinds of conditions."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Mike Neff