Bazemore drives to No. 5 on Friday in Seattle KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2004) - Whit Bazemore, one of the more outspoken NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competitors against the track conditions here on the dragstrip at Pacific Raceways since he...
Bazemore drives to No. 5 on Friday in Seattle
KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2004) - Whit Bazemore, one of the more outspoken NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competitors against the track conditions here on the dragstrip at Pacific Raceways since he first won here in 1997, qualified No. 5 today for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and lauded the resurfacing work the track has recently completed.
"The race track is good," he said after clocking a 5.048-second elapsed time at 296.24 mph in the second qualifying session today in extremely hot conditions. "They did a good job with it. It feels very smooth."
The track conditions aside, every pro team came to this event with new rules with which to contend, including an 85 percent nitromethane mixture, down from 90 percent, a new Goodyear tire, and newly-mandated tire pressures. "There are so many different variables right now," he commented, "with the new tire and the excessive heat that we have here (mid-90s). It's a learning process. It's very tough for the crew chiefs and the teams to back these cars down enough to go down a track like this. They've done a good job.
"We went out in the final session and we ran 5.04. That was three tenths of a second quicker than we ran in the first round (5.336/261.62), which was huge. I don't think we'll find three more tenths tomorrow, but it's definitely a possibility that we could find a tenth or a tenth and a half, depending on the conditions. Lee (Beard, crew chief) and the Matco Tools team are still finding their way with this new tune-up. At this point, it is somewhat of a crapshoot.
"Everybody coming in here was faced with the same sort of challenge and that is how to take this new tire that's been mandated and get it to hook up," continued Bazemore, third in the Funny Car standings and two-time winner this season. "No one knew what it would do on this new race track in 90-degree weather, with the 85-percent rule. The power has been cut fairly drastically on the car.
"All the teams, including ours, have done a pretty good job of adapting the cars. The only bad thing, from my point of view, is that the cars are really slow. The premise of this sport has always been to go as fast as you can as quick as you can. Now with these rules changes we have stepped back quite a ways in time.
"For me personally, I like going fast. It's not a macho thing. It's just when you've been 333 mph it's kind of hard to get excited," said Bazemore, who posted the quickest and fastest Funny Car pass in NHRA history this year at Route 66 Raceway of 4.713 seconds at 333.25 mph.
"We left some on the table today. We'll fine tune the car. The bottom line is it's still 85 percent. It doesn't have the same thunder or the same feel. The car feels a lot different and it feels a lot slower. And the reason for that is because it is a lot slower."
Two more qualifying rounds are scheduled for Saturday.