Las Vegas: Whit Bazemore Saturday summary

Bazemore No. 10 in Vegas qualifying LAS VEGAS (April 3, 2004) - It looked like it would be a wash-out again today, after yesterday's qualifying for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was cancelled due to...

Bazemore No. 10 in Vegas qualifying

LAS VEGAS (April 3, 2004) - It looked like it would be a wash-out again today, after yesterday's qualifying for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was cancelled due to rain. But after morning showers, sunny and cool conditions prevailed and qualifying was on, albeit only two rounds.

In Whit Bazemore's first Funny Car pass he came up No. 6 with a 4.850-second elapsed time at 313.80 mph. With even cooler conditions expected in the final round, the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus team was pumped for good results.

The final round was exciting and conditions seemed ideal for the 330-mph mark to be reached by someone in the 17-car field. The top-speed record of 329.18 mph held by Bazemore's teammate Gary Scelzi, however, was not broken, as some teams struggled and others shined. First, it was Ron Capps taking the No. 1 spot, which he then relinquished to Gary Densham, and finally it was Tony Pedregon claiming No. 1.

Bazemore, paired with his rival Pedregon, came up short in his attempt, smoking the tires at the hit of the throttle, resulting in a 15.589/75.89 pass, which dropped him into No. 10, his worst qualifying effort of the season.

"We're disappointed," he said. "The conditions were really good and every year with this Matco Tools team we've kind of gotten in the habit, a good habit, of fighting it out for low qualifier often. And it was a big fight out there tonight, it was exciting, but we blew the tires off at the hit.

"The car is just making a lot of power right there at that point and it's hard to control," he continued. "We were going for it and our intentions were to be low qualifier. We could have been. If the Matco Tools Dodge had gone down the race track chances are it would have run a low 4.70.

"We were also trying to run some really big mile-an-hour for the first time in a long time. We haven't really focused on that too much in the past several years. We were focusing on it now and it was a good opportunity for someone to really do that, but we saw some killer cars - our teammate (Gary) Scelzi and (John) Force and some other guys - try really hard because we all wanted that brass ring tonight.

"The important thing is that we qualified. When you have a shortened session and you make any kind of mistake the first run you put yourself in a real precarious position where any little thing will keep you out of the show. That's what happened to us last year at Reading, Pa., at the end of the year when we were fighting for the championship.

"The first run today was great out of the trailer. It was very, very important."

Bazemore remains upbeat about his chances and looks forward to his first-round match-up tomorrow with NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader Del Worsham. "It's not a bad day," he said, "and the fact we run (Del) Worsham in the first round is really great. He's the guy leading the points right now and they're on a roll. And we need to be in a position to control our own destiny. And we are.

"We have nothing to lose and they have all of it to lose. So, we're in a good position and we're excited about that. The silver lining in the cloud is we get to run Worsham in the first round. I don't think it could be scripted any better."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham