Gainesville: Whit Bazemore preview

Gatornationals on top of Bazemore's hit list. GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 10, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore, driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, heads to Gainesville Raceway this weekend with the ...

Gatornationals on top of Bazemore's hit list.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 10, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore, driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, heads to Gainesville Raceway this weekend with the Gatornationals high on his hit list. He's fourth in the NHRA Funny Car point standings, just one point out of third, and is encouraged by a successful test session at Firebird Raceway the day after the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals there.

"The Gatornationals is one of the premier races on the NHRA circuit," said Bazemore, two-time U.S. Nationals champion. "The U.S. Nationals in Indy is the granddaddy of them all, and we've been fortunate to have a couple of wins there, but races like the Winternationals (Pomona, Calif.), the Matco Tools Supernationals (Englishtown, N.J.), Columbus (Ohio) and the Gatornationals are, in my opinion, the four big races other than Indy. I haven't had the ultimate success at any one of those. It's really a huge desire for me to get a win at the Gatornationals. And I think that this season represents possibly the best opportunity that I've had in my career this early in the season to be successful there."

Bazemore and his teammate Gary Scelzi, who drives the Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T, topped the charts during testing at Firebird, with Bazemore surpassing the track record with a 4.77-second pass, while Scelzi bested the top speed record with a 323-mph lap. "Gary and I both feel extremely confident and extremely hungry to get our Matco Tools and Oakley Funny Cars to the very front of the points race. And we need to start doing that right now."

Weather conditions in Gainesville can be iffy and teams have to be prepared for anything. "Gainesville is a good track," said Bazemore. "If it's on the cool side and overcast, it could be really stellar. If it's warm and hot it could be a little tricky. But at this time of year you never know down there. Either way I think we'll be prepared. We prefer it to be cool and overcast and have it turn into a horsepower contest, because our Matco Tools team makes a ton of horsepower. So does Gary's team. That would work in our favor."

The comfort and confidence quotient is high at Don Schumacher Racing after two races of the 23-event series, especially in Bazemore's camp. "I think we will be fairly strong right out of the trailer in Gainesville," added Bazemore, who defeated his rival John Force in the second round of eliminations at Firebird. "I think we have an excellent chance to qualify in the top two or three, certainly the top five, and that's our goal. Then on Sunday, as always, it'll be take one round at a time, and be careful not to make any mistakes."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Don Schumacher