Indianapolis: Bazemore sets the quickest and fastest lap in Funny Car history

Bazemore's Pontiac Firebird Rockets To Best Funny Car Lap in NHRA History INDIANAPOLIS, September 1, 2001 - Whit Bazemore's Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird turned in the quickest and fastest lap in NHRA Funny Car history during the second...

Bazemore's Pontiac Firebird Rockets To Best Funny Car Lap in NHRA History

INDIANAPOLIS, September 1, 2001 - Whit Bazemore's Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird turned in the quickest and fastest lap in NHRA Funny Car history during the second qualifying session of the day at the 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Bazemore 's Pontiac was paired up against the Camaro of Tommy Johnson Jr., two cars that made up the final qualifying pair of the day. Under clear, cool Hoosier skies Bazemore tripped the finish-line timers in 4.756 seconds at 325.69 mph.

"It's a great feeling when you've got the baddest hot rod out here," said Bazemore. ""I knew that run was quick. I've never been in a situation to hold the national record and that's exciting. It's pretty neat because I live here now, but it wouldn't matter if I lived in Alaska -- this is the U.S. Nationals, this is the place and we came here loaded for bear."

To set a new national record, Bazemore will need to run within one percent of last night's pass sometime before the end of the weekend. Unofficially, that would take a lap of 4.804 seconds or better. Should Bazemore hold on to the top spot following Sunday's final two sessions, it will be his fifth No. 1 qualifying effort in the last six events.

"The Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird ran well yesterday and this morning," said Bazemore. "We had some lean spots in the engine and that cost us some horsepower downtrack and I was shutting it of a little early - 75 feet in front of the finish line yesterday and 30 feet today.

"We knew if we could get the engine to run in a healthy state that our performance would increase. We also knew that this being nightime that if we gave her a little more tune up it would add that much more to it and that's what happened."

John Force is qualified second, Ron Capps has the quickest Camaro in the No. 3 spot, Frank Pedregon's Firebird is fourth and Tommy Johnson's Camaro is fifth. Al Hofmann is qualified 16th in the Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird with a 4.905 e.t. at 305.70 mph. That rounds out the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history with two sessions remaining on Sunday.

In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson sits atop the qualifying ladder tonight. The GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Grand Am had the quickest lap of the day during the evening session with a 6.885 e.t. at 200.50 mph.

"We tested here and ran extremely good, and we came in here with basically the same setup," said Johnson. "The track didn't look that much different, but quite obviously it was. We shook the tires the first two rounds, so we just back backed the whole car down.

"In our particular category we don't have the luxury of making as much power as you need. We have to deal with what Mother Nature gives us since these are naturally aspirated engines, so we just take what power we've got and apply it as efficiently as possible to the race surface we've got. This morning we backed it down quite a bit and it still shook the tires, so we had to make a drastic change for this evening's run.

"If the atmospheric conditions stay the same, I don't see the track changing a whole lot, so we might be able to improve a little bit, but it would be a miniscule amount, maybe a hundredth at best. But how much more aggressive you can get without getting into trouble like we did on our first two runs, it's pretty hard to say."

Ron Krisher is qualified second in a Cavalier, Mark Osborne is third in a Dodge, Mike Edwards is fourth in a Cavalier and Tom Martino is fifth in a Grand Am.

Qualifying for all professional classes and the Budweiser Shootout for Funny Cars will commence on Sunday. There are four Firebirds in the eight-car special event including Del Worsham, Whit Bazemore, Bruce Sarver and Frank Pedregon. The winner will take home $100,000.

-Pontiac Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Warren Johnson , Al Hofmann , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Ron Krisher , Tommy Johnson , Tom Martino , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.