BAZEMORE OFF TO STRONG SEASON START, HEADS TO PHOENIX FOR ROUND 2 CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is off to a healthy start to the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series, driving the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car for...
BAZEMORE OFF TO STRONG SEASON START, HEADS TO PHOENIX FOR ROUND 2
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is off to a healthy start to the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing Series, driving the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. He opened the year with a semifinal-round finish at the season-opener at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, and landed in third place in the point standings.
The two-time U.S. Nationals champion expects even better results at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals this weekend at Firebird Raceway, now that the mechanical problems he and crew chief Lee Beard experienced in eliminations at Pomona have been resolved.
"We're very optimistic going to Phoenix because the Matco Tools Dodge ran competitively at Pomona," said Bazemore, who defeated teammate Ron Capps and No. 1 qualifier Tony Pedregon in eliminations there, "but we had a couple of things that were holding back the performance on race day. We're excited because we feel that, when we get back on track with those things fixed, the car's performance should really pick up quite a bit.
"Firebird's quarter-mile could be tricky, depending on the heat," continued Bazemore, who has not won here. "If it's hotter it could fall off considerably. But if it's like it was in testing (mid-60 degrees ambient temperature on Jan. 28-30)) then the track should be really good, and you could see the same sort of record times that we saw at Pomona (4.681 ET for Tony Pedregon; 331.53 top speed for Gary Scelzi)."
Still seeking his first Funny Car crown after two runner-up finishes (2001 and 2003), Bazemore feels his team, one of eight now campaigned by Don Schumacher in the POWERade series, is growing in the right direction. "The team has expanded considerably since 2001 and we've had some people come and go," he said. "I'm excited. I feel good about the people we have. Ed McCulloch (Capps' crew chief) has been a really strong addition to the team. (Capps' co-crew chief) Dan Olson is involved, Zippy (Mike Neff, Gary Scelzi's crew chief), and Lee of course. Right now the four of them are working together and sharing information.
"That's the only way I think we can seriously and strongly challenge for a championship - to uitlize the brain trust that we have to its fullest extent like some of the other teams do. If it were everybody out on their own then naturally we wouldn't be as strong.
"I think everyone realizes that and we're all aiming toward a common goal. It's working out really well."