Championship Drag Racing

NHRA Nationals
Las Vegas, NV
(April 6-9)

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Whit Bazemore

Bazemore gains ground, goes to semi's

Las Vegas, Sunday: Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger Funny Car team are getting their groove back after making it into the semifinal round of the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today, defeating 13-time Funny Car champion John Force along the way.

The defending event champion, who qualified No. 10, first disposed of Phil Burkart Jr. with a 4.833-second elapsed time at 321.73 mph, then ousted Force in the quarterfinal by a close margin of six feet (.0132 of a second), posting a 4.832/324.36 versus Force's losing 4.839/323.58.

The semifinal round saw Bazemore square off against his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps. Bazemore had the luxury of lane choice, but a loss of traction following a solid .069 (of a second) reaction time (.070 for Capps) determined the outcome, as Capps took the win with a 4.888/317.05 to Bazemore's 4.969/300.40.

Capps went on to earn runner-up in the final round to Cruz Pedregon today.

"The thing we're happy about," said Bazemore, "is when you go back to yesterday afternoon, when in the last qualifying session we ran a 4.79, and you put that with the two runs we made today that were good, that's three good, strong runs in a row, where the car responded to Brian (Corradi, crew chief) and Todd's (Okuhara, assistant crew chief) input.

"The Matco Tools Dodge is starting to show a little bit of consistency and a little bit of tunability. When it goes down the track it generally has run pretty quickly. The problem has been that it's been so inconsistent and so hard to tune for Brian and Todd, that it just wouldn't ever repeat.

"I feel we made tremendous headway this weekend on the consistency issue and the car responded to their input and doing what they wanted it to do, and that's key.

"I'm excited that we ran a bunch of runs in a row that were competitive. We won two rounds. Unfortunately, we dropped a cylinder against Capps in the semis; otherwise we would have looked pretty strong there. That's what's frustrating.

"We have a race in two weeks. We're going to go through our stuff and it's all good."

On his win against Force: "Everyone in this class is tough," said Bazemore. "What's important is when you're fighting for a championship and you're running against the guy that you're fighting with, that's when you pay attention to who is in the other lane. Other times, it's just another guy to race."

Bazemore moved into 10th in the Funny Car point standings.

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