Houston Chuck Etchells Racing Wrap-Up

MECHANICAL BUGS BITE BAZEMORE IN HOUSTON Baytown, Texas, April 11, 1999 - One of the biggest concerns in today's electronic community is the ever-growing number of computer viruses, problems of unknown origins that wreak havoc on the user's ...


Baytown, Texas, April 11, 1999 - One of the biggest concerns in today's electronic community is the ever-growing number of computer viruses, problems of unknown origins that wreak havoc on the user's hardware. In recent weeks, there have been instances where several businesses have been forced to temporarily halt operations until the malady could be repaired. After this weekend's O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, Whit Bazemore and the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team can fully empathize with those companies. Throughout the three days of the event, the Etchells crew battled to overcome a series of dropped cylinders. Although they were unsuccessful in locating the source of this predicament, they were able to secure the fourth spot in qualifying and advance to the second round of eliminations, where Bazemore was matched against Del Worsham. After both drivers started with virtually identical reaction times, Bazemore seemed to have the win in hand, posting better times through the eighth-mile mark. However, telltale signs from his racecar indicated that all was not well, as the normally steady flame patterns from his exhaust headers now resembled a circus calliope, the result of yet another cylinder failure. Despite Bazemore's efforts, his mount slowed, allowing his rival to barely edge him at the finish line.

"The Kendall Camaro was on a pretty good run until it dropped a cylinder" explained Bazemore. "The engine got very hot at about 900 feet and pretty much quit running. But even though the performance was down, I still hadn't seen Del, so I drove it hurt for quite a while. I was concerned about actually blowing the car up. Unfortunately, he finally passed us right at the finish line. It just wasn't our turn to win."

To the casual observer reviewing the weekend's events, the Etchells' team performance gives little indication of any mechanical woes. Unlike several of their competitors, who had the benefit of extensive testing since the last race, the Kendall crew arrived in the Lone Star State armed with only the data from previous events and their substantial knowledge of the Raceway Park facility gained over years of competition. Further complicating matters were the warmer-than-normal temperatures and drenching humidity that descended on the Houston area during the weekend. But as those familiar with this organization have come to expect, the Tim Richards-led crew was up to the challenge, as Bazemore recorded a 4.950-second elapsed time with a top speed of 308.78 miles-per-hour in his very first attempt. Although engine difficulties prevented any improvement, Bazemore was able to make a 4.975-second pass on only seven cylinders during their last time trial on Saturday, and their initial effort was good enough to claim the fourth position on Sunday's final eliminations ladder. Bazemore's first round match-up was literally over before it started, as his opponent, Cory Lee, left the starting line prematurely, handing the automatic win to the Etchells Camaro. This set the stage for Bazemore's encounter with Worsham, who had captured lane choice by virtue of a quicker elapsed time in his first-round win.

"This entire team is disappointed because we're not having the success we know we're capable of," stated Bazemore. "But that is a good thing, because our attitude remains positive and everyone is focused. It's not that we're uncompetitive. Even with our problems here, we qualified fourth and went two rounds, so the weekend was not a write-off. In addition, running a 4.97 in the heat with a hole out as we did on Saturday was pretty impressive. I know Tim Richards and this Kendall Motor Oil/Superwinch crew will work through this and find the solution. We're going to stay here Monday and test, so we can be ready to do even better in Dallas."

In Sunday's Funny Car final, John Force defeated teammate Tony Pedregon to log his second win of the season. After a weekend off, the NHRA tour will return to action just outside Dallas at the Texas Motorplex on April 22 for the running of the Castrol Nationals.

Funny Car Points Standings (As of 4/11/99): 1. J. Force - 470, 2. T.Pedregon - 341, 3. Whit Bazemore - 245, 4. C. Pedregon - 238, 5. G. Densham - 208, 6. D. Skuza - 198, 7. D. Worsham - 192, 8. J. Toliver - 191,=20 9. F. Pedregon - 189, 10. C. Lee - 187.

Big Bud Shootout Points (As of 4/11/99): 1. J. Force - 1,615, 2. Whit Bazemore - 1,505, 3. C. Pedregon - 1,465, 4. T. Pedregon - 1,400, 5. R. Capps - 1,215, 6. D. Skuza - 1,185, 7. A. Hofmann - 1,170, 8. G. Densham - 1,085, 9. T. Wilkerson - 1,055, 10. D. Worsham - 1,020.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Cory Lee , Tim Richards