Reading2: Whit Bazemore Saturday summary

Adrenaline crush; Bazemore DNQS in the midst of championship chase READING, Pa. (Oct. 4, 2003) - For the first time since Memphis in September of 2002, Whit Bazemore did not qualify for a POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car event. This was ...

Adrenaline crush; Bazemore DNQS in the midst of championship chase

READING, Pa. (Oct. 4, 2003) - For the first time since Memphis in September of 2002, Whit Bazemore did not qualify for a POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car event. This was particularly devastating as Bazemore, driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus, is in the middle of a heated championship battle with Tony Pedregon for the Funny Car crown.

Bazemore, who had led the point standings by seven points before exiting in the first round last week in Chicago and dropping to second with a 69-point deficit to Pedregon, returned to the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway today with high hopes of regaining the points lead. He had qualified No. 14 in the one round of qualifying completed in the first visit here Sept. 12.

Rain nearly washed out today's two scheduled sessions and NHRA was able to fit in only one qualifying round. In that round, Bazemore, whose team is famous for running well in cool conditions, had an uncharacteristically poor pass of 5.233/275.51, placing him 18th and out of the field. With only three races remaining following this one, Bazemore's chances for his first Funny Car championship have diminished, but Bazemore, crew chief Lee Beard and the team have not given up.

"It was a very cold track; we shook the tires," said Bazemore, who's won three times this season. "It's prone to happen in these conditions. I pedaled it, it hooked up nicely and was going right down there. Then it just spun the tires down track heavily, and that was probably what did us in more than anything."

"We've made it harder for ourselves, but we are still certainly capable of winning this thing. We're very, very motivated and we're going to do what we can do to make it happen. We've certainly made it harder for ourselves, but we've got a great team over here, great guys. Everyone is very motivated and focused and we want this title. We're going to go out there with nothing else on our minds but to get it. It's up to us to make it happen."

Lee Beard was just as determined. "There are three races left. We had a team meeting and we're going to stick to our guns," he said. "It's not over 'til it's over and we're a never-say-die team. There's one thing I can guarantee you, they (John Force team) won't outwork us."

"It's one of those things. There's no margin for error when you're limited to one or two qualifying runs. We made an error and didn't get down the track. That's just the way it goes."

"We're not letting this get us down. We're going to do whatever we can do to win it. It's still mathematically not over."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force