Bazemore Out In First Round At Gatornationals GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 2004) - Every opponent in the other lane is a potential danger to a Funny car drag racer when it comes to aiming for an event win and eventually a championship. No one...
Bazemore Out In First Round At Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 21, 2004) - Every opponent in the other lane is a potential danger to a Funny car drag racer when it comes to aiming for an event win and eventually a championship. No one can be counted out. So when Whit Bazemore, in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge, came head-to-head with Cory Lee in the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, he didn't take the challenge lightly.
Cory Lee's Funny Car was painted white, virtually unsponsored, and team owner Dale Creasy Sr. was funding its first appearance this season in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Bazemore came to the line ready to race. He blasted off at the starting lights with a stout .078 reaction time to Lee's .143. As No. 2 qualifier to Lee's No. 15, it should have been Bazemore's round to lose, and that's how it turned out, as his car smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle, resulting in a 6.564-second pass at 203.34 mph to Lee's winning 5.162/285.89.
The 2003 Funny Car championship runner-up and two-time U.S. Nationals champion found himself falling from No. 5 to No. 8 in the Funny Car point standings, but did not blame the newly-repaved track surface.
"It's not the track," he said. "It's our car and ourselves. We just overpowered the race track at the hit of the throttle, basically. So we got beat."
The drop in point standings was not significant at this early stage of the season, he said. "We're here to win the race, we don't care about points. We did everything we could do. We drilled Cory Lee on the starting line, and then we got the thing to hook up finally, trying to do magic. We needed them to make a mistake too, and they didn't, so we got beat.
"That's how the sport is. It's a brutal game. Budgets sometimes don't matter. That's the beauty of our sport. When you go to the starting line underdog or favorite, you only have one car and one motor, and you've prepared your stuff to the best of your ability and you go race.
"The beauty is that the underdog always has a fair enough chance to win. It happened to me when I was younger in my career. We beat (John) Force a few times when he was reigning world champion and we had no business beating him. That's the beauty of the sport, but at the same time it's also the dread and it will drive you crazy if you let it.
"We've got a great Matco Tools team. When the driver's perfect and the car is perfect we're going to be unstoppable. Until then it's going to be hit or miss. This year when the car has been right I've made a small mistake," referring to his slow reaction time at the CSK Nationals in Chandler, Ariz. "And then when I've been right the car let us down a little bit. That's just how it goes. We'll work on that."
Next up is Round 4, the NHRA Summitracing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.