BAZEMORE STARTS 2006 SEASON WITH IMPROVED TEAM, BUT GOES OUT IN FIRST ROUND AT POMONA POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2006) - Whit Bazemore, driving the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, is motivated more than ever by the improvement...
BAZEMORE STARTS 2006 SEASON WITH IMPROVED TEAM, BUT GOES OUT IN FIRST ROUND AT POMONA
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2006) - Whit Bazemore, driving the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, is motivated more than ever by the improvement his team is making with new crew chief Brian Corradi, despite a first-round loss at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series' season-opening CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway.
Bazemore and the Matco Tools team produced four consistent straight runs in qualifying to earn the No. 6 spot and were pumped to get a solid head start on the season with a good performance in final eliminations.
In the opening round, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion nailed the starting light with an outstanding .055 light, the quickest of the round, to Bob Gilbertson's .092. But it was Gilbertson first across the stripe, with a winning 4.813/316.38 to Bazemore's 4.943/311.70.
"The Matco Tools Dodge was just down on power and then it dropped the No. 1 cylinder at 2.1 seconds," explained Bazemore. "They (Gilbertson's team) made a good run. We got beat. We got outrun. It's that simple.
"All in all, we had a very positive weekend. The team is jelling. The team is doing a really good job preparing the car. We have a lot of new things. There are very high expectations, but the reality is that we have a new team.
"Stuff doesn't happen overnight when you have new people and change is not always good. I don't like change within a team that I'm in. In this case, we made some very good moves and it's going to pay big dividends. I'm trying to do my job the best I can. Everyone is. Brian and Todd (Okuhara) are brilliant, and we just had a bad race.
"If I recall last year here, the team that won the championship had a terrible race. So did the team that finished second. Today, it's disappointing, but we're already going to look towards Phoenix."
"The first-race jitters are behind me," said Corradi. "It's getting comfortable now. All there is is up from here, as far as I'm concerned. We qualified in the fastest Funny Car field in NHRA history, in the top half on top of that. I'm happy how qualifying went. Surely I'm not happy with race day. There's always another race in a week or two."
Next up is the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 24-26.