Seattle Chuck Etchells Racing Preview

AFTER COMING CLOSE IN DENVER, BAZEMORE SET TO SCORE IN SEATTLE Putnam, Connecticut, July 23, 1999 - This weekend, the NHRA makes its annual stop in the northwest corner of the United States with the running of the Prolong Northwest Nationals at...


Putnam, Connecticut, July 23, 1999 - This weekend, the NHRA makes its annual stop in the northwest corner of the United States with the running of the Prolong Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway. As one of the most scenic areas on the tour, the world's fastest quarter-milers look forward to coming to the Emerald City and taking advantage of the many things it has to offer. Whit Bazemore, driver of the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Funny Car has his own motives and priorities for his visit to the Emerald City.

"Seattle is a fun city," stated Bazemore. "I always look forward to getting back to that part of the country. As a big seafood eater and an expresso addict, there are plenty of great places you can go to get either. In addition, I'm hoping to do a little mountain biking on some of the outstanding trails they have when I get to town on Thursday. But most important of all, I can't wait to get back in the Kendall Camaro and race."

A quick review reveals the reasons behind Bazemore's eagerness to return to competition. At the last race in Denver, the Etchells team had an impressive debut with their new Camaro body, reaching their second final round of the season. In addition, Bazemore is already familiar with success at Seattle International Raceway, having won this event in 1997. Finally, this weekend represents the next opportunity to notch their first win of the season, which remains a top priority for each member of this veteran crew.

"My 1997 win in Seattle was a great victory," recalled Bazemore. "I was driving a Mustang at the time, which was supposed to have low downforce and be unable to win on bad tracks. Ironically it was before the track was repaved, so it was really a tough surface back then. We beat Force in the semis in a really close race, and then were lucky enough to edge Tony (Pedregon) in the final even though we smoked the tires down track because he had a blower belt come off.

"Our team was on a roll then. Similarly, coming off the final in Denver, Seattle would be just as good a place as any to get our first win of the season for Team Kendall, Chuck Etchells and Chevrolet. It is very important to me to win a race driving for Chevrolet, because they've done a tremendous amount for our team and for me personally. They helped make it possible for me to drive for Etchells Racing this season. The fact that I have yet to win in a Camaro, which is a superior car, is frustrating."

Unlike last week in Colorado, when drivers and crew chiefs had to battle the conditions brought on by the altitude, the main concern heading into this event will be the notoriously tricky Seattle International Raceway surface. With cooler temperatures and near sea level elevation, creating horsepower will not be a problem. Rather, it will be the application of this power to the racetrack that will decide which teams shall succeed or fail.

"It's a hard track to tune for, because the concrete is so good, but the pavement is not," explained Bazemore. "You have to try and aggressively accelerate the car on the first half of the track, and then be soft on the back half to avoid smoking the tires. The racing surface was a little better last year after being repaved, and hopefully it will have improved this year. Even so, it's still a hard place to drive.

"It's unfortunate in a way, because with the atmospheric conditions and so many trees around, it has the potential to be a super track. But in its current configuration, it just won't hold that type of performance. But that's something for the NHRA to think about. Our focus will be on racing our Kendall Camaro to the best of our abilities and winning the race. We're looking to pick up where we left off in Denver, trying to go one better and win that final round."

BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Bazemore's ninth appearance at Seattle International Raceway and second in a Camaro-bodied Funny Car....Bazemore looks to score his first win in the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro....Bazemore looks to duplicate his Northwest Nationals win from 1997.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 12th annual Prolong Northwest Nationals.

WHEN: July 30 - August 1, 1999

WHERE: Seattle International Raceway, Kent, Washington.

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, July 30 at 2:30 & 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, July 31 with two rounds at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 1.

TV: ESPN2 will air one hour of final-round coverage from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, and two hours of first-round highlights on Sunday, August 1 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.. In addition, ESPN2 will air two hours of qualifying highlights on Saturday, July 31 from 10:00 p.m. - Midnight.. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Chuck Etchells