Seattle: Whit Bazemore preview

Bazemore says Seattle's re-paving a step in right direction KENT, Wash. (July 21, 2004) - Whit Bazemore has been outspoken about the condition of the Pacific Raceways' dragstrip over the years, since his first win here in 1997. He won again in...

Bazemore says Seattle's re-paving a step in right direction

KENT, Wash. (July 21, 2004) - Whit Bazemore has been outspoken about the condition of the Pacific Raceways' dragstrip over the years, since his first win here in 1997. He won again in 2001 and was runner-up in 1999 and 2003 and is now encouraged by the fact that portions of the quarter-mile track have been resurfaced.

The driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car enters the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, the 14th round of the 23-event NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, this weekend still third in Funny Car point standings, despite his early exit last week at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

His closest competitors for his first Funny Car series championship also were eliminated in either the first or second rounds last Sunday, leaving Bazemore very much in the running and just 57 points out of the lead, held by John Force.

"All things considered," he says, "we were pretty fortunate in Denver to have our losses cut. That's a good sign. It's hard to predict how things are going to be in Seattle.

"In 1997 the track was a one-lane race track," says Bazemore, who holds the national Funny Car elapsed-time record of 4.713 seconds. "It was very bumpy. I brought up the point in '97 when we won that the track needed a facelift. So, now in 2004 they've re-paved it.

"We can race anywhere," he adds. "It doesn't matter to us. We can race down a dirt road, but for the good of the sport it's an issue that needed to be addressed and they finally addressed it and it's a step in the right direction."

The new surface is not the only challenge the NHRA teams will face here at Pacific Raceways. The teams continue to learn the attributes of the newly-mandated Goodyear tire. "The new tire so far seems to be presenting a challenge to everybody in warmer conditions," says the two-time U.S. Nationals champion who established the fastest Funny Car speed in NHRA history this season, at 333.25 mph, and was low qualifier in Denver, "and obviously in Denver with overcast conditions in qualifying the Matco Tools team had a good handle on it and it seemed to be fairly predictable. But in the heat on Sunday there were a lot of guys who smoked the tires, including ourselves.

"We'll just have to see how the new surface in Seattle comes around, how the new tire takes to it and what kind of sunlight we have. If we have cooler and more overcast conditions, it might be OK. If it's hot, then I would imagine that you're going to see a lot of tire smoke and drivers trying to get their cars down the race track any way they can."

Pro qualifying is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. PT on Friday, July 23, and on Saturday, July 24, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. PT. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday, July 25.

ESPN2 will air qualifying on July 24 at 7 p.m. ET. NHRA2Day is scheduled for July 25, at 8:30 a.m. ET, and coverage of final eliminations will air at 8 p.m. ET on July 25 on ESPN2.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , John Force