Seattle: Whit Bazemore eliminations summary

Bazemore goes to finals, gains 61 points on Tony Pedregon KENT, Wash. (July 27, 2003) - Whit Bazemore shaved 61 points from Tony Pedregon's lead in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings today, by advancing to the final...

Bazemore goes to finals, gains 61 points on Tony Pedregon

KENT, Wash. (July 27, 2003) - Whit Bazemore shaved 61 points from Tony Pedregon's lead in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings today, by advancing to the final round for the sixth time this season. Pedregon, who did not have lane choice and was relegated to the notoriously bumpy left lane, did not advance to the second round, after being dismissed early by Del Worsham. Bazemore is now just 63 points behind.

Bazemore, driving the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus in the left lane, came away with a runner-up finish to his nemesis John Force in the final round (5.036/300.80 to 5.215/272.28). But he was lucky to have even reached the finals after losing lane choice in every round but one.

The No. 9 qualifier didn't enjoy lane choice in the first round and had to accept running in the left lane. When Dean Skuza red-lighted, the two-time winner here at Pacific Raceways (1997 and 2001) may have dodged a bullet and was able to advance to the second round with his 5.123/294.37 pass. Lane choice for the next round, however, was again not an option for the Indianapolis resident.

On the other side of the ladder, Bazemore's teammate and No. 1 qualifier Gary Scelzi moved on to the quarterfinals after defeating Tom Wilkerson and would face his Don Schumacher Racing partner Bazemore in that round, with lane choice.

Crew chiefs Lee Beard (Bazemore) and Mike Neff (Scelzi) agreed that the Matco Tools driver would take the right lane. Scelzi's reaction time was quicker (.080 to .119), but it was Bazemore to the finish line first with a 5.123/294.37 lap, while Scelzi lost traction over the bumps, posting a 6.911/130.51 pass. That solid run gave Bazemore lane choice for the semis.

In the semifinal against Johnny Gray, Bazemore dropped a cylinder, yet still scored the win with a 5.073/291.32.

"We had a good day in the Matco Tools Dodge," said Bazemore. "We basically lost the race in the semis. We did everything we could do in the semis to get lane choice for the final, then dropped a cylinder and came up a little short. Force's team was perfect and they had lane choice. And for the Funny Car class that pretty much spelled the result."

"So I feel like we did the very best we could do and we came away with the maximum amount of points that we realistically could get and we're going to go to Sonoma and try to do it again."

The next race is next weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Aug. 1-3.

NHRA POWERade DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS (after 14 of 23 races): 1. Tony Pedregon 1174
2. Whit Bazemore 1111
3. John Force 933
4. Del Worsham 887
5. Gary Densham 826 - 11. Gary Scelzi 604 - 14. Scotty Cannon 506

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Johnny Gray , Don Schumacher , Mike Neff