Throughout qualifying for the U.S. Nationals, Whit Bazemore and the Etchells Racing Team fought to solve the tricky Indianapolis Raceway Park surface. After losing traction in each of their first three attempts, Bazemore finally recorded a ...
Throughout qualifying for the U.S. Nationals, Whit Bazemore and the Etchells Racing Team fought to solve the tricky Indianapolis Raceway Park surface. After losing traction in each of their first three attempts, Bazemore finally recorded a full-power pass on Sunday morning in the first round of the Big Bud Shootout, but his 5.145-second elapsed time was not among the top sixteen.
Therefore, as he rolled to the line for his fifth and final qualifying attempt at the U.S. Nationals, Bazemore knew he would have to produce his best result of the weekend if he was to harbor any hopes of racing in Monday's final eliminations. Bazemore responded by powering down the quarter-mile in 5.084 seconds with a top speed of 299.86 mph.
Although this temporarily placed the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 in the field for Monday's final eliminations, there were still some anxious moments as other racers threatened to knock the Etchells entry from the field. In fact, their position was not secure until one of the last cars to run, Dean Skuza, lost traction and was unable to post a time quicker than Bazemore's.
As the sixteenth qualifier, Bazemore will face top qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr., with Bazemore looking to avenge an earlier loss in Seattle when Bazemore was the No. 1 qualifier.
"It's certainly been a nail-biting weekend. I have to hand it to this Etchells Racing team, because despite our struggles, they've maintained their positive attitude and desire to win. They're working their tails off, and I appreciate it. We feel good, because we get to race tomorrow and we'll be ready.
"I think the Kendall/Matco Camaro is going to get a little stronger with every pass. It was really smooth on that last run. It was a little weak, but that's what you have to do when you have a tire-smoking problem like ours, and Terry (crew chief Manzer) had told me to expect it. I was concerned, because we knew the bump would come in throughout the session, and that the guys behind us would have a little better track as the sun went down. In that situation, every five minutes counts, and there were some strong cars still to run. We did not celebrate with that 5.08, and it took Dean's smoking the tires for us to stay in. It's unfortunate for him, and we got in by the narrowest of margins, but we'll take it."