BAZEMORE LANDS IN SEMIS IN SEASON OPENER POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and crew chief Lee Beard overcame most of their qualifying problems in today's final eliminations for the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals, advancing to...
BAZEMORE LANDS IN SEMIS IN SEASON OPENER
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2005) - Whit Bazemore and crew chief Lee Beard overcame most of their qualifying problems in today's final eliminations for the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals, advancing to the Funny Car semifinal round in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus.
Bazemore earned a "bye" run in the first round when his opponent and teammate Ron Capps' Brut Dodge split an oil pan at the starting line. Bazemore won with a 4.810/308.78 pass. This resulted in loss of lane choice against Tony Pedregon for the second round, but he managed to eke out a win over his longtime nemesis by a .0196 margin of victory with a 4.780/321.19 pass over Pedregon's 4.785/321.04. Bazemore led Pedregon by two hundredths of a second the entire route down the quarter-mile after launching with a stellar .070 reaction time to Pedregon's .084.
The semifinal round against Tommy Johnson Jr. was another close race, but it was T.J. first at the finish line with a 4.761/328.22 to Bazemore's 4.782/313.29. Margin of victory: .0682. Johnson went on to win the event, his first victory since 2001.
Bazemore ended up tied in third place with Cruz Pedregon in POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points, and not at all unhappy with today's results. "It was a good day, especially when you consider how the weekend was early on and when you consider the problems we had today," he said.
"The car has a gremlin. It's not a Gremlin, it's a Dodge Stratus, but it has a gremlin. Sometimes it ran like a Gremlin," he quipped with wry humor. "We have something wrong with the engine. It drove Lee crazy all day. We changed the ignition and other things and it still had a problem.
"The next two weeks are going to be spent just fine-tuning this Matco Tools Dodge, going over it with a fine tooth comb, trying to figure out what the bug is in there. When we get that right, it's going to be a strong car and be the equal of our teammate Gary Scelzi (who ran a career best 4.717 ET at 331.53 mph today) and the other cars out here that are running low 4.70s and high .60s.
"We ran well in spite of our problems, and that gives us a lot of hope to realize our true potential."
On the victory against Tony Pedregon, he said: "It was good. I try to be very consistent and do the same thing. My lights last year were good. I had the second-best average and every once in a while someone can pull one out on us. I try to be steady and usually it's good enough to get the job done. And in that case it was. We were fortunate that Lee gave me a car that could win. It was up to the driver to take that car and make the most of it.
"In the semis we lost a close race. Again, our engine went away at half-track and it's just one of those things.
"When the car is happier, it's going to make us a lot happier too."
Next up is the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., on Feb. 25-27.