Seattle: Whit Bazemore preview

KENT, Wash. (July 24, 2003) - Second-place Whit Bazemore carved 19 points from Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon's advantage at Bandimere Speedway in Denver last week, but he still has to make up 124 points to take over the lead. Winning the...

KENT, Wash. (July 24, 2003) - Second-place Whit Bazemore carved 19 points from Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon's advantage at Bandimere Speedway in Denver last week, but he still has to make up 124 points to take over the lead. Winning the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship is, of course, Bazemore's goal this year, and time is running out. The driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus is on a mission for the title and Pacific Raceways just might be the site that can produce a third season win for the Indianapolis resident.

With the exception of 1998 and last year, Bazemore has notched at least one strong result since 1997 at the track just outside of Seattle, beginning with an event win that year, a runner-up finish in 1999, a No. 1 qualifying position in 2000 and another victory in 2001.

"Seattle is a race where we've done well in the past," he says. "We're at a point this season where it's very important for us to do well again this year. You can't really put too much into your history at a particular place because each year, each season and each race can be so different from anything else."

The weather and air conditions at Pacific Raceways have the potential of producing record speeds and low elapsed times, but the track surface remains a challenge. "Lee (Beard, crew chief) and I and the Matco Tools team have won here," adds Bazemore. "Hopefully we'll have kind of cooler conditions this weekend. The Seattle track's first half is really good. On the second half the bumps make it very tough to run the car at its maximum. I think we have a handle on that sort of thing and the tune-up downtrack. We should be strong here."

Bazemore is still stinging from his second-round loss to John Force at Bandimere and is now even more determined to win. "Denver was a slap in the face, so we're very motivated," he says. "We've just got to do the best we can all the time.

"We've got a great team, we're contending and we made up 19 points on Tony thanks to my teammate Scotty Cannon taking him out in the first round. From here on out it's very important that we not slip up. It's crucial. The pressure is on us to go out and win this championship."

An avid cyclist, Bazemore has been following the progress of the Tour de France, which will be completed this weekend. "Because of our affiliation with Oakley we have been fortunate enough to have met Lance (Armstrong), Floyd Landis and several of the riders on the U.S. Postal team," says Bazemore, who met his wife Michelle, a competitive cyclist, while cycling in Indianapolis. "And by chance I met up with George Hincapie on the Blue Ridge Parkway this spring in North Carolina and I got to ride a couple of hours with him. So, being big fans of professional cycling, Michelle and I have been watching the Tour religiously. It's been a great tour.

"I'm excited that Lance has been in the yellow jersey for most of the Tour. At this point it's looking good, but there are still a couple of days to go."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Scotty Cannon