BAZEMORE IS BACK FOR MORE KICKS ON 66

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Whit Bazemore, the fastest Funny Car driver on the planet, having run 333.25 mph at Route 66 Raceway early this year during the May NHRA Nationals, made some test runs the for the Schumacher camp at a recent Test & Tune Event at Route 66 Raceway. Serving as a double pilot for both the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car and the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, Bazemore and the Schumacher crew were able to collect some valuable information to be used in the championship hunt during the last half of the NHRA POWERade tour. One of the most impressive runs for onlookers included a 4.777 sec. running at 325.61 miles per hour. According to the Schumacher team, this was the fastest pass made under the new 85% fuel rule recently implemented by the National Hot Rod Association. This unofficial record at Route 66, is just one more reason why eyes are turning toward the Schumacher team in anticipation of the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA National Event at Route 66 Raceway September 30-October 3, 2004. Bazemore took a break from the track and greeted onlookers with autographs and advice for other local drag racers testing that night. Taking time between runs, Bazemore answered a few questions : Q: Can you tell me a little about what your intentions were here today, what you accomplished and how you feel going out? Where you here for testing prepping for the fall race? BAZEMORE: No. We?re here strictly for testing our car. This is one of our favorite facilities obviously because we have won here several times and set the national record here, so we always like coming here. If it was up to me, we would come here all the time . What we really initially needed was some hot weather and we didn?t get that today, but it is still good because it may be cool in Brainerd, which is where we are this weekend. It still may definitely help to run in these conditions with the changes we have made and the new tire, and others things that were recently mandated... It?s just a chance for us to try to catch up. You know earlier in the spring we had an 80-point lead and now we are 146 back, so we have work to do and we are here doing our work. Q: Any comments on the track conditions and how you think the track has evolved from when you were here in the Spring and what you think you can expect in the Fall? BAZEMORE: It is the finest facility surface-wise and actually the whole facility is one of the best - along with Bristol and Infineon and some others that are really first class. This place is certainly first class all the way. And to me that means a lot. It is a place where we can bring out family and sponsors and show off our sport in the best possible way. But the surface here is definitely second to none and even tonight it is not prepped like it would be for a national event, yet it is as good or better than most of the tracks that we race on the rest of the year, and you know I was thinking about that. After we ran the .77 in Gary?s car and I was in our Matco Tools car waiting to run, I was thinking that it is awfully good here and this is just the part-time crew. So it says a lot. It is prepped right and it is a good place Q: Obviously you have had some wonderful results in the Spring and are looking forward to coming back in the Fall. Any predictions of what we will see in the future? (Bazemore, in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny car, produced the quickest and fastest pass in NHRA Funny Car history at Route 66 Raceway during the Spring National Event this year: 4.713 seconds at 333.25 mph) BAZEMORE: It is so hard to predict results. I have learned that many times, but when we come back it will be the third to the last race. And hopefully the championship will either be real tight and we will be in the hunt or it will be sewn up and we already have it. So, either way, it is crunch time that time of year. And this place in the fall?you know it?s hard to imagine it would be better than it was in the spring, but it easily could be. We could have better conditions, and even though the National Hot Rod Association is taking steps to slow the cars down, we just ran a .77 and 325 and you know we weren?t trying to run .71 and 333. The opportunity is always here at this track The opportunity is always here at this track to set and reset the national records. So that makes it exciting, because as a driver and as a competitor, you always want that next level of performance. That is the foundation of this sport and fortunately for us, no matter what they do to slow the cars down we will always have a track like Joliet to let it all hang out.
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