CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE RACEWAY NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1999 FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28 WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, is No. 1 qualifier, with a track record...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE RACEWAY NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1999
FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, is No. 1 qualifier, with a track record elapsed time of 4.856 seconds at 307.58 mph, set in the final qualifying session. This is Whit's second "pole" position in a Camaro Z28 Funny Car.
BAZEMORE: "It was probably the most perfect run we made this year for the Kendall Camaro. We came here to this race third in the points and John's (Force) team had won the first two races. Our backs were against the wall. We felt like we had to make a big change to be competitive with that team, they're ahead of everyone at the moment. We made big changes to the combination on the tuneup of the car. We expected to take a couple of steps back in the hopes of taking five steps forward. It has been a perfect weekend so far. In the first run we had a problem, we ran a 5.20 and I shut it off early. The team worked to give me a better car each run. The last run it was a perfect run -- well, not quite perfect -- but it's coming around. It has a lot more potential, that's what's exciting. We don't have the Camaro running at the other end as good as we want it to. I know Tim and Kim Richards will solve the problem. You can't just decide to make the change and expect to get the desired result. You have to go step by step and it's a process that could take a few runs. I really like driving for Chuck (Etchells, team owner) and Team Kendall. It's a heck of an opportunity they have given me and I appreciate it." UNDER THESE HOT CONDITIONS, DID YOU EXPECT TO GO AS FAST? "The conditions today were better, we had a slight cloud cover. We didn't quite have the cloud cover that the Weather Channel promised us. It came around.....Typically, this track is very good, it's not a surprise that it's the quickest field in history The level of the competition is such that everyone is close and very competitive. You take that and couple it with a track like this and you get records. It's good to be low qualifier for a race like this. It's really good." WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR TOMORROW? "The goal here is to win the race tomorrow. This race is one of the premier races on our circuit. To have the Gatornationals Trophy in your trophy cabinet is what it's all about. It's right up there with the U.S. Nationals, the Winternationals, Englishtown, so that's what we have to try to do for tomorrow. It doesn't matter if you are low qualifier, it's good for right now. When we walk out of here it doesn't matter. What does matter is that we have a good tuneup in the car." DO YOU GET AN EXTRA BOOST WHEN YOU OUTQUALIFY JOHN FORCE? "Yes. Any time you outdo that team you feel good because, let's face it, they are the benchmark. I hate to admit it. I told someone the other day I'm really tired of watching them win. We all are, but they work hard and they're a good team. We just have to work that much harder to catch up and pass them. And no one has been able to do that for six years. You get tired of watching him. He's a good guy, but how much can the guy win? He goes on and on. They are that good. Any time you outdo them it feels good. We have to win tomorrow. I love racing John because he makes you do your best. When you outdo them you do feel satisfied because you beat the best guy." WHEN ARE YOU GETTING YOUR '99 CAMARO? "Hopefully, we will have our '99 Camaro in April. It's being designed right now and being built. It's going to help us a lot." WILL IT CREATE THE SAME CONTROVERSY THE MUSTANG BODY DID? "I don't think it could, because they changed the rules to fit the Mustang, now we have to catch up with the new rules. We have a '98 Camaro that was built under rules that we had for several years. Overnight those rules became obsolete because a team lobbied to have those rules changed, while they were winning their eighth Winston championship!....It's surprising that they would change the rules as a result of one team stating facts that were not really correct. They (Force's team) said that their Mustang had less downforce than the Chevy, they said 18%. The NHRA bought that argument without any proof or documentation whatever. We take both cars, Chevy Camaro and Mustang (Whit's from '98) to the GM wind tunnel and prove that there wasn't an 18% downforce difference. It was more like 6%, in the rear. And, actually, the Mustang had some benefits to it as far as balance that probably made it easier to drive last year. So we have to catch up. Right now we are at a disadvantage, and that's going to change in April. I don't want to cry about it, because that's the way it is. We are not going to cry about it now and ask to change the rules."
RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, is No. 10 qualifier, 5.013/304.87. Ron pulled this one out in the final qualifying session, after smoking the tires in the other three sessions. It was clear that the Camaro wanted to smoke the tires again, but Capps did everything in his power to get it down the track to qualify.
CAPPS: "I willed it. It's like bending a spoon. You know, those guys who bend spoons with their minds (Kreskin?). I was talking to the Camaro: 'You are going down the track with me or else.' Seriously, like I've said before, we're working on that 5-disc clutch, and we're going to stick it in there unless it beats us up so bad. We're going to get it right, because we are going to need it down the road. When we get the '99 Camaro we'll be ready. But the '98 Camaro keeps telling us it wants us to run it some more, so we're going to make it run. It shook and rattled (on that run). I gave it a pedal and it lifted the front end up and carried it about 100 yards. It pinned me back in the seat all the way to the finish line. I said I don't know if it would be better than an .09 (bump spot), but when I got further down the track I knew it was on a good run." HOW DID YOU FEEL? "I thought I was going to throw up at the other end. My knees are still knocking. The cool part is that it shows you the character of the guys on this Camaro team. It's been a tough three races. It's not over yet. Not one guy has complained or wanted to go home or whined about anything."
DON PRUDHOMME, COPENHAGEN CAMARO team owner: (Before the final Funny Car qualifying run, Prudhomme had half of his two-car team in the field. LARRY DIXON, in the MILLER LITE TOP FUEL DRAGSTER, was No. 1 qualifier. At that time, Prudhomme said, "The trouble with having two cars, even if one wins and the other one doesn't you are still only 50% happy." After Capps got into the show, he said: "I'm 100% happy now. Both cars are in the show. It's difficult when you have one that is really hauling and the other one isn't. It's tough, because you want them both to be running up front. Now we have something to work with. That's great, thanks to Ron getting the Camaro down the track."
PRO STOCK -- CAMARO Z28
KUKRT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, is No 2 qualifier behind his dad Warren with an identical elapsed time of 6.906 seconds, set in the final qualifying session. Kurt's slower speed of 199.43 mph placed him second because of Warren's 200.08 mph. This marked the third time in a row the pair has qualified 1-2 and the 17th time in their careers.
KURT: "We saved the best for last! We knew we had to get some bite in this thing. We adjusted the 4-link rear suspension to a setting we had never tried before, and it worked perfectly. The suspension may have been too much for the clutch in second gear, but we had so much vehicle speed tha it ran like a bear." ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED TO LOSE IN A TIE-BREAKER WITH YOUR DAD? "It's better to keep the old man happy!"
MIKE EDWARDS, DEWCO SALES CAMARO Z28, did not qualify.
FEDERAL MOGUL DRAG RACING SERIES:
TONY BARTONE, QUAKER STATE/ROGER DEAN CHEVROLET FUNNY CAR (Alcohol) and JAY PAYNE, VALVOLINE CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 4 and No. 8 respectively, and have advanced to the second round. Final rounds will be held on Sunday.
Bartone has won his first two events in Division 2 this season in the Camaro-bodied alcohol funny car.