BAZEMORE BACK IN HUNT KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is back in the hunt for the POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship, having qualified No. 2 at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver last week and twice breaking the...
BAZEMORE BACK IN HUNT
KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2005) - Whit Bazemore is back in the hunt for the POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship, having qualified No. 2 at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver last week and twice breaking the track ET record at Bandimere Speedway that he owned coming into that race.
Event winner Robert Hight eventually took the track record away from Bazemore, but the two-time U.S. Nationals champion was encouraged by the performance of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car, tuned now by Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara, and is ready to attack this weekend's CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Pacific Raceways, the second round of the three-race Western Swing.
Bazemore has a strong record at this Northwest track. He's won here twice (1997, 2001), was runner-up twice (1999 and 2003), and was No. 1 qualifier in 2000.
"We have done well here in the past, but this year we're coming basically with a new team," he said. "So, it's a challenge, as always, and we're grateful that they re-paved this track last year, which seemed to help it quite a bit.
"Our priority is to be able to get the Matco Tools Dodge to go down the track without smoking the tires right now, because we're making a lot of power, and that seems to be what cost us the most in the last couple of races, is smoking the tires.
"The goal is to go down the track in qualifying, get a good handle on it, go into race day and take it as it comes."
Bazemore started out strong in the 2005 season, winning two races and leading the Funny Car points through three events. He has been in a slump since the sixth race of the year and is gradually getting back into the hunt with his new crew chiefs Olson and Okuhara on board. He's seventh in points, 204 behind first place, and definitely in the mix. "As far as the championship goes, we've come back before from a 300 or 400-points deficit in the past (to vie for the crown). But, we have to get down the track consistently and if we do that we'll have a car that's going to win a lot of rounds.
"You have to assess where you are five, six or seven races to go (in the season) and just make progress each race."