Reading: Whit Bazemore preview

Bazemore returns to site of career-best E.T. in Reading READING, Pa. (Sept. 10, 2003) - Whit Bazemore, who is seeking his first NHRA Nitro Funny Car championship and is just 57 points out of the lead in second, returns to Maple Grove Raceway, ...

Bazemore returns to site of career-best E.T. in Reading

READING, Pa. (Sept. 10, 2003) - Whit Bazemore, who is seeking his first NHRA Nitro Funny Car championship and is just 57 points out of the lead in second, returns to Maple Grove Raceway, where, as the song goes, the "air is rarefied."

The driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny car says it just might be possible for him to match his career low elapsed time, established here in 2001 of 4.732 seconds, or even better it at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this weekend at the track famous for its record-braking capability.

Because of the number of trees that surround this track and the oxygen they emit, the air quality under the cooler conditions which are often present in September, make the Funny Car engines which can produce 6500-plus horsepower even more powerful here.

"It's a really good track," says Bazemore, who has been runner-up twice here in 2001 and 2002, but never a winner. "It depends on the conditions. Right now if the overcast conditions that the local weather reports are calling for arrive, there's no telling what kind of performance we could see here. Lee (Beard, crew chief) has our Matco Tools Dodge running very well, and we're capable of running low 4.70s right now, especially with the Goodyear tires we have, which are different from what we had in '01. It would be great to be able to get that kind of performance out of the car, but we'll just have to wait and see what the conditions allow us to do."

Going for the championship is the key goal at this stage of the season for Bazemore, with six races remaining, but the Indianapolis resident who has two event wins this year just wants to enjoy himself and not let the pressure overwhelm him.

"Every race from now until the end of the year is critical," he says, "but our approach is going to be the same. We're going to go in and enjoy racing and put no extra pressure on ourselves to do well. We always try to get the best out of the race car and the best out of ourselves every single time and that's what we're going to try to do.

"It would be nice to win this race," he adds. "We've been runner-up a couple of times; we've had good performances here in the past. We have a decent history at the track and hopefully that will repeat itself and we can have some success this weekend."

Last year at Maple Grove Bazemore qualified No. 1 with a 4.806-second elapsed time, and was runner-up to Tony Pedregon, whom he's pursuing for the Funny Car crown this season.

An avid cyclist, Bazemore will have as his guest this weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals 2000 Olympian gold medalist Marty Nothstein, who lives in Trexlertown, Pa., and competes regularly at Lehigh Valley Velodrome.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore