There can be no better feeling - if you're an NHRA Nitro Funny Car driver - than to return to a track where you know your car runs well, after winning the previous week, vaulting yourself into the points lead for the first time in your career, and where you won in your last visit. If you add to the mix the cool conditions expected at Route 66 Raceway this weekend for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, then Whit Bazemore and his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car team have the right ingredients for a possible repeat at the track outside of Chicago. "We're really looking forward to Chicago. We've had a lot of success here in the short history of this track," says Bazemore, who's won here three times, in 1998, 2001 and 2003. "And the cool conditions look like they're going to play in our favor. It's a high-horsepower track and that should benefit our Matco Tools Dodge team and my crew chief Lee Beard's tune-up." As always, the team objectives remain the same at every race. However, staying ahead in the point standings is vital in order for Bazemore to claim his first Funny Car crown, with five events remaining in the 2003 POWERade Drag Racing Series. "We need to qualify and take it one round at a time," says the Indianapolis resident, who is seven points ahead of Tony Pedregon and 176 ahead of Pedregon's car owner John Force. "Our goal is to try to increase our points lead over the Force empire. We're looking to have a great weekend." They say that leading can put more pressure on you than chasing the lead. "The pressure's not off, but I think we can enjoy what we're doing a little bit more," he adds. "That will make it easier. Naturally, we're going to have more confidence in ourselves and in our ability, because of what we've accomplished this year. "Leading the points should make us stronger as a team and it gives everyone a taste and it tastes good, so we want more. I think it's going to help us, not hurt us." Route 66 Raceway is also the site where, earlier this year, Don Schumacher Racing scored its first double win, which was repeated last weekend in Memphis: Tony Schumacher won the Top Fuel race in his U.S. Army dragster and Bazemore won Funny Car. Each driver won his third race of the season in Memphis.
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Route 66 Raceway
500 Speedway Blvd
Joliet, IL 60433
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