BAZEMORE IN POSITIVE MODE HEADING TO ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is in a positive frame of mind as he and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car team head to Gateway International Raceway for this...
BAZEMORE IN POSITIVE MODE HEADING TO ST. LOUIS
MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is in a positive frame of mind as he and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car team head to Gateway International Raceway for this weekend's 12th round of 23 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series events.
With one full race completed under the leadership of crew chiefs Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara, Bazemore is confident that the team will soon return to the winning form it enjoyed earlier this season, when Bazemore won twice and led the points through three events.
In Englishtown, N.J., last weekend, the Matco Tools Dodge team saw improvement through the second round of eliminations and are encouraged with those results. The two-time U.S. National champion is eighth in the point standings and in the midst of a seven-car battle for third place. A strong performance in St. Louis could easily re-arrange the rankings.
Returning to this race where Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell lost his life last year will also be on Bazemore's mind.
"Everyone is going to have emotions coming back to this place," he said, "but, for our team, we're coming here with renewed optimism with our new crew chiefs. The Matco Tools Dodge team ran smoothly and it was a very positive weekend for us in Englishtown, actually, in spite of the problems (struggling to qualify 15th).
"Our car is going to be better and better. Everything is just going to get more comfortable and everyone is going to become more and more optimistic as time goes on.
"I'm looking forward to another race with these guys and to see what we can do here in St. Louis."
As for racing at night: "I don't care about it either way. It doesn't matter. It's very hard to see in a Funny Car at night, but I grew up match racing at night in the Southeast, so I'm used to it."
Bazemore has never won at Gateway International Raceway in his 16-year career, which includes 19 career victories in 43 final rounds.
SCHEDULE: On Friday, June 24, professional qualifying sessions are at 5 and 8 p.m. On Saturday, June 25, pro qualifying continues at 5 and 8 p.m. On Sunday, June 26, final pro eliminations begin at 4:30 p.m.
TELEVISION: On Saturday, June 25, ESPN2 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at midnight (ET). On Sunday, June 26, ESPN2 will televise three hours of elimination highlights beginning at 9 p.m. (ET).
WHIT BAZEMORE QUICK FACTS:
* Two-time U.S. Nationals champion, 1997 and 2001
* Eighth in 2005 Funny Car point standings after 11 events, 208 points out of lead
* Won two events this year (Gainesville, Las Vegas), No. 1 qualifier once (Columbus)
* Qualified No. 4 at 2004 NHRA Nationals in Madison, Ill., lost first round to Del Worsham
* Has never won at Gateway Int'l Raceway.
* Qualified in the top two in nine events in 2004, four times in No. 1
* No. 6 in 2004 Funny Car points, with two wins, five final rounds
* First Funny Car driver to break 325-mph barrier (U.S. Nationals 2001)
* Career quickest ET is 4.713 seconds, career fastest speed is 333.25 mph, both set at Route 66 Raceway in 2004 in what was at the time the quickest and fastest speed in Funny Car history
* Won three times in 2003, runner-up five times
* Has 19 career Funny Car event wins in in 43 final rounds in 306 races
* Took the 2003 championship chase to penultimate race in Las Vegas in an exciting final round against eventual champion Tony Pedregon
* Was second twice in the Funny Car championship in 2001 and 2003, third in 1997 and '99 and has finished in the top five six times and 12 times in the top 10 since 1992
* Age 42, born in New York City, an avid cyclist, lives in Indianapolis with wife Michelle, a competitive amateur cyclist, and son Dashiell Aidan, born March 12, 2005
* 2005 is his fifth season with Don Schumacher Racing