Strong season finish on Bazemore's hit list LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2004) - Last year at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Whit Bazemore was in a fierce fight for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship against Tony Pedregon....
Strong season finish on Bazemore's hit list
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2004) - Last year at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Whit Bazemore was in a fierce fight for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship against Tony Pedregon. It came down to a dramatic final-round match-up for the pair. Bazemore launched with an early lead in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus. Both drivers then smoked their tires, but Pedregon smoked his less, allowing him to win the race and the crown.
Despite their year-long acrimonious rivalry, the two hugged at the finish line, as emotions ran high for both.
Bazemore entered the 2004 season as a favorite to win his first Funny Car championship. It was looking good early on, as the Indianapolis resident took over the points lead at the eighth event and held it through the 10th, following five final-round appearances and two wins. The second half of the season, however, turned out to be more challenging and Bazemore finds himself battling for second place in the Funny Car championship instead of first, as the season winds down to the last two events - the ACDelco Nationals this weekend, and the Pomona, Calif., Automobile Club of Southern California Finals on Nov. 14.
"It has been a tough year, especially the last half," said Bazemore, who is fourth in the rankings, 141 points out of second place and 105 points behind his teammate Gary Scelzi in third. John Force needs only to qualify in Las Vegas to collect his 13th Funny Car championship.
"Typically Vegas is a very good track for us. We've had success here," he said of his three runner-up finishes and two No. 1 qualifiers at The Strip. "We're coming here with really high hopes. It's imperative for us to do well here.
"While we're not in the championship fight like we were last year, we have the same type of pressure on us. And that pressure comes from having to finish the year on a good note and trying to turn the momentum around to carry us through the off-season on a high.
"Not to mention that we've got to not only try to take on our teammate Gary Scelzi and Del Worsham for second, but we've got to really watch the guys behind us who are coming on strong."
Eric Medlen is just six points behind Bazemore, and Gary Densham is 19. The chase for second place in the Funny car championship remains only among Worsham, Scelzi, Bazemore, Medlen and Densham.
"The last two races are every bit as important this year as they were last year, just for different reasons," Bazemore said. "We're fired up. We've had two weeks off. We're very, very motivated and we're looking forward to starting qualifying on Friday."