BAZEMORE RUNS STRONG, EXITS EARLY AT GATEWAY MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Whit Bazemore powered the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car past his teammate Ron Capps in the opening round of eliminations at the O'Reilly NHRA...
BAZEMORE RUNS STRONG, EXITS EARLY AT GATEWAY
MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Whit Bazemore powered the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car past his teammate Ron Capps in the opening round of eliminations at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals today, then was defeated by his longtime nemesis John Force in the quarterfinal.
No. 2 qualifier Bazemore survived an emotional first round by ousting the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader Capps, with a 5.059-second elapsed time at 303.50 mph under hot and steamy mid-America conditions, to Capps' 5.625/186.12.
In the second round, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion took off at the starting lights with a .013 of a second edge over the 13-time Funny Car champion, but it wasn't enough to take the win when the Matco Tools Dodge experienced tire shake and Bazemore drove to the finish in 6.126 seconds at 208.55 mph. Force captured the win with a 5.082/301.47. Margin of victory: .0316 of a second.
"We had a lot of confidence on the starting line and it's just drag racing," said Bazemore. "We just overpowered the track a tiny bit and that's that. Force and his team didn't make a mistake.
"Today was a good confidence builder for me, believe it or not. It's such a mental game and you do what you have to do get yourself in the right frame of mind. I think I'm pretty good at that. Unfortunately, what I have to do to really get in the right frame of mind doesn't always sit well with other people.
"We were in the right place today, for sure, and the first round was tough as hell against Capps. He's driving at the top of his game and the team is at the top of its game. And then, against Force, of course, it's always the same thing: you're racing the top guy.
"It's frustrating, but the good news is our team has come a long way. We're going to test here tomorrow. We're just trying to constantly improve our team and our performance and I think the job (crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Brian (Corradi) are doing is tremendous. Unfortunately, I think our results certainly don't indicate the caliber team that we have and that's just a matter of time before they do."
Bazemore is eighth in Funny Car points rankings, 49 points behind his teammate Gary Scelzi, in seventh.
Next up is the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo., July 14-16, 2006.