Sonoma: Whit Bazemore eliminatons summary

Bazemore continues to make ground on Funny Car Championship SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2003) - When Arnie Karp red-lighted in the first round, Whit Bazemore easily advanced his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus into the second round of Funny Car...

Bazemore continues to make ground on Funny Car Championship

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2003) - When Arnie Karp red-lighted in the first round, Whit Bazemore easily advanced his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus into the second round of Funny Car eliminations today, while points leader and No. 3 qualifier Tony Pedregon lost a pedaling contest to the No. 14 qualifier Keith Jackson.

Although Bazemore wasn't able to capitalize on Pedregon's first-round loss any further, as he then lost to his teammate Gary Scelzi in the second round, he did make up 19 points to Pedregon and now is just 44 points behind for the POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship.

It was almost a repeat of events in Seattle last weekend, as Scelzi earned lane choice over Bazemore for the second round when he defeated his Oakley teammate Scotty Cannon with a 4.899/316.97 pass, the quickest and fastest of the round. Bazemore demonstrated the strength of the Don Schumacher Racing brain trust by posting a strong 4.924/311.77 for the second fastest and quickest of that round.

Amid renewed controversy over the lane-choice decision made last week, Scelzi's team selected the more favorable right lane. This was the race of the weekend. Would Bazemore advance and gain those coveted points on Pedregon? Would Scelzi advance to the semifinal en route to his first Funny Car victory?

One of the answers came at half-track when Bazemore got slightly out of the groove and spun the tires, scoring a 5.178/273.72 pass to Scelzi's straight and winning 4.975/309.77.

The important part of the other question was answered in the final round, when Gary Scelzi scored his first career Funny Car win in 22 events against Dean Skuza.

"We raced here and we raced last week too," said Bazemore. "They gave us lane choice last week. Today they didn't. Our Matco Tools Dodge went a little left and spun the tires and that's just the bottom line."

Gaining points on Tony Pedregon was a valuable reward, but Bazemore will also be looking over his shoulder at Pedregon's teammate and team owner John Force, in third, who is closing in at 155 points back after losing to Scelzi in the semifinal round today.

"Force is making up ground, and he's coming up behind us like a freight train. They've won the last two races. Tony's team is stout too. It's just very tough, very tough. There are still eight races left this season. My goal was to leave here with the points lead and I'm just very disappointed that it's not happening. Certain circumstances happened to make that a possibility, such as Tony Pedregon getting beat in the first round.

"The guy to beat - I've said it from day one - is John Force and John Force got 78 points on us this weekend."

"Congratulations to Scelzi and the Oakley team for winning and for beating Force. They're a great team over there. They needed that win. It's exciting that they won. Jim Jannard (Oakley's Mad Scientist) has been around for a while now. He's a cool guy and I think he really enjoyed standing in the winner's circle."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Scotty Cannon , Keith Jackson , Arnie Karp