Sonoma Check Etchells Racing Finals Report
Bazemore's dream weekend ends in Sonoma Winner's Circle Day/Date: Sunday, August 8, 1999 Location: Sears Point Raceway Sonoma, California Qualifying: 1st, 4.931 seconds, 305.77 miles per hour Eliminations: First ...
Bazemore's dream weekend ends in Sonoma Winner's Circle Day/Date: Sunday, August 8, 1999 Location: Sears Point Raceway Sonoma, California
Qualifying: 1st, 4.931 seconds, 305.77 miles per hour
Eliminations: First round: Whit Bazemore (.554 r.t., 4.979 E.T., 306.05 MPH) defeated Cruz Pedregon (.509 r.t., 5.236 E.T., 277.77 MPH) Second round: Whit Bazemore (.508 r.t., 5.021 E.T., 298.67 MPH) defeated Dean Skuza (.481 r.t., 5.142 E.T., 293.54 MPH) Semi-finals: Whit Bazemore (.509 r.t., 4.876 E.T., 310.20 MPH) defeated Tony Pedregon (.469 r.t., 5.075 E.T., 261.32 MPH) Finals: Whit Bazemore (.492 r.t., 4.963 E.T., 301.74 MPH) defeated Frank Pedregon (.485 r.t., 14.809 E.T., 72.77 MPH)
Whit Bazemore captured his sixth national event title in dramatic fashion at the 12th annual Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California. After qualifying first for the fifth time in his career, Bazemore stormed through the first two rounds of eliminations, defeating Cruz Pedregon and Dean Skuza. In the semi-finals, the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 pilot continued his dominating performance, using an impressive 4.876-second, 310.20 miles-per-hour effort to set both ends of the track record and eliminate rival Tony Pedregon. This set the stage for a final-round encounter with the eldest of the three Pedregon brothers, Frank. Bazemore was not to be denied, however, and his 4.963-second pass easily defeated his tire-smoking opponent. The best indicator of Bazemore's dominance was the fact that his worst run of 5.021 seconds in the contest against Skuza was three hundredths of a second quicker than the next Funny Car in final eliminations. "The way the Kendall Camaro ran in qualifying, I felt this could easily be our day. But this sport is so difficult, and there are so many things that can go wrong, even if you seem to have an advantage. These are very hard races to win, and we ran Cruz in the first round, who we lost to last year in the finals here. I felt like I had to redeem myself there, and I did.
"The toughest race was the third round against Tony Pedregon. Let's face it, that's John's (Force) team, and they've had a tremendous year. We knew they were capable of going out and running a 4.80 or low 4.90. They've done it to us before this year and beat us up, so I guess (crew chief) Tim Richards decided he just wasn't going to take it anymore, because that 4.87 was a real surprise. The car spun the tires a little leaving and by three to four hundred feet I knew it was on a hell of a pass. As a driver you can tell what the clutch is doing and by half-track I thought that it was really hauling and was going to make it, and that .87 was unbelievable.
"It's just been a dream weekend. It's the first weekend that I've had like this where you're low qualifier, set both ends of the track record and win the race. Like (co-crew chief) Kim Richards said, it's a clean sweep. It's just a great feeling. This is for the team. The guys did a tremendous job all weekend.
"It's very special to finally get the job done in the final for Chuck (team owner Etchells), Kendall Oil and Camaro. Chuck brought me into this team and had faith in me. I was getting a little frustrated that I couldn't win a race, because this team won a lot of races last year. The fact is today we got the job done the best way we could, and I think it sends the message that this Kendall Camaro team is for real, and we're going after them. I don't' know what we can do with John (Force), he's way way out there, but we definitely have our eyes on second, and today went a long way towards helping us get there."