Bazemore ready to chip away more points at Infineon SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2003) - Whit Bazemore is breathing a little easier now that he's managed to chip away 61 points from NHRA Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon's advantage after...
Bazemore ready to chip away more points at Infineon
SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2003) - Whit Bazemore is breathing a little easier now that he's managed to chip away 61 points from NHRA Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon's advantage after reaching his sixth final round of the season at Pacific Raceways last Sunday. But that doesn't mean he has his guard down. Not by a long shot, as the driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus looks to chop even more points from Pedregon's lead by winning at the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals this weekend at Infineon Raceway.
Bazemore is just 63 points behind Pedregon, but he's been closer to the top earlier this year, when he was just 36 points back. "It just shows you how quickly things can change. We were close a month ago and then we kind of got in a rut and we had two bad weekends and we fell way back. And now Tony Pedregon's had two bad weekends and we caught him. You can never take any kind of points lead for granted. And by the same token, if you get behind 150-200 points you can't get suicidal about it because it will change very, very quickly."
"The key is to be consistent, go rounds every race," adds Bazemore, who has reached the semifinal round no less than nine times this season and is winner once here in 1999. "To win the championship you don't necessarily have to win every race, but you do need to go at least to the semis. If you do that regularly you're going to be a strong contender. One one hand that's our goal, on the other we really want to see the winner's circle, so we're going to be trying to put the Matco Tools Dodge in the winner's circle here again in Sonoma."
"Typically it's really hot here," he says. "It's not hot today. If it stays cool it could be really good. The fact is that we have some momentum. We had a great result in Seattle. We didn't exactly run killer all weekend; we had some problems in qualifying that we shouldn't have here and that cost us a lot. We have our confidence back and we're ready to go out and rock and roll."
Not only is the two-time U.S. Nationals champion and two-time winner in 2003 looking up ahead at the Funny Car points lead, he finds himself looking over his shoulder at John Force, who is now third in points after beating Bazemore in the final round in Seattle. "Suddenly Force is the guy to watch out for and we've got to stay ahead of him. He's going to be coming on strong and we have to maintain a lead over him."
Lane choice at the Infineon Raceway facility will not be a factor, states Bazemore. "Lanes? We'll have to see. The track used to be kind of a one-lane track because the road course came on to the dragstrip. Now they've separated the two, which is tremendous. The road course used part of the dragstrip as the front straight; it was in a big sweeping turn. The road cars were under load and it kind of cut a groove in the left lane, which gave the left lane a little bump which you didn't have in the right lane. Because they care about NHRA here and about giving the spectators the best possible racing for the money, they separated the road course from the dragstrip and now we should have two lanes that are fairly even and it should give spectators good side-by-side racing."