Twice during the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, Whit Bazemore entered the final qualifying session outside the top sixteen positions necessary to qualify for final eliminations. In each instance, not only was he able to make a run...
Twice during the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season, Whit Bazemore entered the final qualifying session outside the top sixteen positions necessary to qualify for final eliminations. In each instance, not only was he able to make a run quick enough to place the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 in the field, but he followed those dramatic performances with his two best showings of the season, winning in Denver and reaching the final round at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
On Saturday afternoon at Maple Grove Raceway, Bazemore once again found himself in this precarious position, having struggled to complete a full-power pass on each of his first three attempts. Running in the right lane, Bazemore launched hard and powered down the track. The early performance numbers showed that Bazemore was on a strong run. However, just as it Bazemore would once again use his final attempt to claim a spot on Sunday's eliminations ladder, his car suddenly slowed, the victim of a freak mechanical failure. Despite posting his best elapsed time of the weekend, his 5.631-second attempt was not enough to prevent Bazemore from having to watch the remainder of the competition from the sidelines.
This marks the first time in nearly three years that Bazemore has not qualified, dating back to the 1997 Pennzoil Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee, a string of 64 races.
"The Kendall/Matco was definitely on a good run - we estimate it would have been a high 4.80 or low 4.90. Unfortunately, about 100 feet before half-track, it appears that it simply broke the aluminum studs that hold the blower onto the manifold. This caused us to lose boost and then the blower belt came off. Ironically, I don't think the motor blew up.
"It's just unbelievably bad luck on our part. However, we've been in this situation a few times lately, and as Chuck says (team owner Etchells), when you're not in going into the last session, you're playing with fire, and sooner or later something out of the ordinary is going to burn you. That's precisely what happened to us this weekend.
"We keep fighting this car. It has thrown Terry (crew chief Manzer) a big curve. It either sets a new track record (as it did in Denver and Seattle), or it doesn't get down the track at all. We have got to find the middle ground, because it's hard to be successful when the car is all over the map like this one is."