Bazemore breaks in second round; confirms Funny Car Runner-Up Championship status POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2003) - It's official. Whit Bazemore is the runner-up in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship after qualifying No. 3...
Bazemore breaks in second round; confirms Funny Car Runner-Up Championship status
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2003) - It's official. Whit Bazemore is the runner-up in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship after qualifying No. 3 and advancing to the second round in the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals. His only opponent for the second spot was John Force, who was eliminated by Bazemore's teammate Gary Scelzi in the second round.
Bazemore, of Indianapolis, lucked out in the first round when Bob Gilbertson fouled out and crossed the centerline, while Bazemore smoked the tires at half track, then coasted to an 8.043/98.84 lap.
In the second round, Bazemore backed up his strong first-round .044 reaction time with a .032 against Del Worsham's .082, but it was all for naught as the tires on his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus smoked immediately at the hit of the throttle due to a mechanical problem, as Worsham made it easily to the finish stripe to win with a 4.834/319.60.
"It broke an air line in the clutch management system and so the car went right up in smoke," said Bazemore. "Del and his team did a good job; they didn't make a mistake, so we weren't able to rebound.
"In the first round we just overpowered the race track and then Gilbertson fouled out twice on the same run. So we were really lucky there.
"We had four really good runs in qualifying. What happened in the second round was one of those freak breakages where a plastic pneumatic line split right down the middle. There was something else that went on that may have contributed to that problem, and that's what we have to get to the bottom of. That's the way it goes."
Bazemore has 15 career wins, three in 2003, and ends his closest NHRA Funny Car championship battle of his 16-year career second in points, with 1628.
"We had a great year; we had an oustanding year," he said. "It was notable for me because of the way the team really came together as one unit to work towards a common goal. That's the sort of chemistry, the unseen ingredient, that you really need to be successful in any sport. We achieved that this year, even though we finished second.
"Look at my driving. It's given me a lot of confidence and that's what it takes," he added. "You can't have anyone second guessing any decisions or any actions that you make. You have to have the entire team stand behind everybody else and believe in everybody else 100 percent with the knowledge and the understanding and the expectation that everyone's going to make a mistake somewhere down the road. And you just try to minimize them. And the best way to minimize those mistakes is to have really key support and a close-knit group of people who really understand where everybody else is coming from. And we achieved that.
"To me it's a credit to (crew chief) Lee Beard and (co-crew chief) Dan Olson and (Gary Scelzi's crew chief) Mike Neff and (chief mechanic) Ronnie Thompson and all the guys on the team to get to that level. That's really the most notable thing for me."