MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2004) - Whit Bazemore's victory here at the 2003 O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals propelled him into first in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings for the first time in his 15-year Funny Car career. It was...
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2004) - Whit Bazemore's victory here at the 2003 O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals propelled him into first in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings for the first time in his 15-year Funny Car career. It was his second final-round appearance at this track since 1992.
This weekend, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion and fastest Funny Car driver on the planet (4.713 seconds at 333.25 mph, set at Route 66 Raceway this year), who is third in the rankings, would like to repeat and move closer to claiming his first Funny Car championship.
"The win in Memphis was really great last year," he said. "It was the track where I went to my first final in 1992, so we obviously have good memories of this track. We like coming here.
"We're coming in this year with a totally different set of circumstances," he said of his 188-point deficit to leader John Force. "We're in a position now where, as far as our championship goes, we have to have good races from here to the rest of the year."
Bazemore's 2004 season has been on an even stronger path than in 2003. He took over the points lead in the eighth event and extended it in the next after two wins. Five early-round losses, however, in the last six races have dropped him into third. "It's not really the ideal situation, but it's the way it's played out," he said.
"Personally, I like the pressure. I think the Matco Tools team can do well under these sort of circumstances. We just have to go out and make it happen, get a good handle on our race car and our tune-up and have a good outing.
"You can't predict the outcome of races," said the Indianapolis resident and avid cyclist. "All you can do is prepare yourself and the race car the very best way possible and go to the race and do the very best job you can and try to have a good result."
On Friday, Aug. 20, professional qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 21, pro qualifying continues at 3 and 6 p.m., with final eliminations beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22.
On Saturday, Aug. 21, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, Aug. 22, ESPN2 will televise two hours of eliminations at 10 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, Aug. 22, ESPN2 will broadcast NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute weekly news magazine show, at 11:30 a.m. (ET).