Bazemore qualifies No. 5 at Winternationals POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2004) - Whit Bazemore found himself in No. 14 as he drove up to the starting line for the third of four qualifying sessions for the K&N Filters Winternationals today. With one...
Bazemore qualifies No. 5 at Winternationals
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2004) - Whit Bazemore found himself in No. 14 as he drove up to the starting line for the third of four qualifying sessions for the K&N Filters Winternationals today. With one more round remaining, it would certainly put him into a comfort zone if he were able to get his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus solidly into the field in this run.
The air temperature was cool, the track was in good shape, and the sun was shining as Bazemore hauled down the quarter-mile in 4.821 seconds at 320.66 mph for the quickest and fastest run of that round. This pass placed him No. 2 with one round remaining.
The final round, however, was not as fruitful, as Bazemore smoked the tires early and coasted to a 10.561-second elapsed time at 76.39 mph, dropping him to No. 5 in the field.
"In the last round we were trying to go places with this car where we haven't been yet," he said. "It's a baby-step situation, where we're forced to take baby steps. It was still a good day for the Matco Tools team. Lee (Beard, crew chief) and the guys have worked awfully hard. We've done a lot of testing, Don's (Schumacher) commitment is second to none, so it's starting to pay off.
"It's still the first race of the year, everything's new, we have a new combination, and the car just doesn't respond exactly to Lee's command yet, the way it should," said Bazemore, the 2003 Funny Car runner-up. "We have Dan Olson helping out and all the guys on the team. It's a big effort. I think we're making good progress, it's starting to come around, and we're going to see some daylight here soon.
"We've had some handling problems with the car, but I think we have that kind of dialed out a little bit," he added. "It's better. The car is just not consistent yet, and you've got to get to a point with these cars where you know exactly where you are and with every little change you make to the car between rounds you know what it will do. We're not quite there yet, but we're a lot closer now than we were two days ago. So, that's important.
"Today's first run was really a good run, just perfectly smooth and effortless, a 4.82 at 320 mph. Those kind of runs are easy and make my job really easy. Tonight we went out and just shook. We have a good idea why but we sitll have to look at the data before we know for sure."
Bazemore will face Bob Bode in the first round of eliminations tomorrow, which begin at 11 a.m.