BAZEMORE ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND IN ST. LOUIS; ENCOURAGED NONETHELESS MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2005) - Whit Bazemore was ousted in the first round of eliminations today at Gateway International Raceway, yet he moved up from eighth to seventh in...
BAZEMORE ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND IN ST. LOUIS; ENCOURAGED NONETHELESS
MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2005) - Whit Bazemore was ousted in the first round of eliminations today at Gateway International Raceway, yet he moved up from eighth to seventh in POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points.
When Eric Medlen oiled the track in his first-round loss, he was penalized 10 points, allowing Bazemore to move up a position. The driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus is now eight points ahead of Medlen, and 32 points short of sixth position.
Bazemore and crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Dan Olson are still in the honeymoon stage of their new union and are continuing to make progress towards the future, despite Bazemore's loss to Tony Pedregon in the opening stanza today.
The two-time U.S. Nationals champion who is chasing his first Funny Car championship took off at the starting light with a .077 reaction time. Pedregon replied with a .056. The pair were evenly matched until both lost traction and were forced to pedal it to the finish.
Pedregon took the lead, while Bazemore recovered with a burst of power and speed that took him to the finish line just .0242 of a second short of a victory. Pedregon claimed the win with a 5.331/272.17 to Bazemore's excruciatingly close effort of 5.334/292.65.
"It's only disappointing in that it's always disappointing when you don't win a round or the race," said Bazemore, "but quite honestly we're pretty excited. The way the Matco Tools team, Todd and Dan, have integrated themselves and the job that the team's doing on the race car is really, really good. I can't say enough about the fact that I have the best outlook I've had in quite a while for the rest of the year.
"It's exciting and it's really fun and it's a new challenge. And I think a new challenge working with different people is kind of refreshing for me. We had a great, great run with Lee (Beard, former crew chief), but we're looking at the future now, and the way these guys have come in and tuned the car shows me that we've got a really bright future on the Matco Tools team. I feel good about it, despite our loss.
"Any time we lose by a couple of thousandths (of a second) I take it pretty hard because I feel I should make up the difference. We had a problem earlier in the week and Todd and Dan were able to adjust it so the car was more driveable for me and it worked. It recovered nicely and if the race track had been 10 or 15 feet further we probably could have won that round.
"We're not hanging our heads. We're going to go back to the shop, get our equipment more perfect and go start the West Coast swing on a really high note."
Next up is the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, Colo., July 15-17, 2005.